Examining Philip Rivers' passing props for 2020
After 16 seasons with the Chargers and 123 victories as a starter, quarterback Philip Rivers will head the Indianapolis Colts offense during the 2020 NFL season.
The 38-year-old will join 43-year-old Tom Brady as only the fifth and sixth quarterbacks in league history to start for new franchises after they won more than 100 starts with another team. Based on the passing props listed at BetAmerica, the bar is set high for both.
Let’s look at the Over/Under on Rivers’ regular-season passing yards and passing touchdowns and predict his performance in his first year in Indianapolis.
Philip Rivers' regular-season passing yards
A quick glance at Rivers’ statistics should spark optimism in the Over. Since 2009, he has accumulated more than 4,250 yards in every season but 2012, when he threw for 3,606. That year, he played behind an inefficient offensive line and was sacked a career-high 49 times.
Last season, Rivers also endured a shoddy offensive line, which was ranked 29th by Pro Football Focus, and had little to work with because of injuries. Still, Rivers put up 4,615 yards through the air, with the help of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, both 1,000-yard receivers in 2019.
In Indy, Rivers will get a huge boost behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. He’ll also unite with receiver T.Y. Hilton, who tallied 1,270 yards in 2018, Andrew Luck’s final season.
Much like the Chargers in 2019, Hilton and several of his teammates were limited by injuries. And Luck's shocking retirement during the preseason left Jacoby Brissett to step in and lead the offense.
Before Luck’s surprise exit and the assortment of injuries, the Colts looked primed for a postseason run. With an offseason to recuperate and Rivers now in charge of the offense, Indianapolis may be able to pick up where Luck left off in 2018.
2020 #Colts offense 📈📈📈— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) April 25, 2020
QB = Philip Rivers
RB = Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines
WR = T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal
TE = Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox
OL = Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith pic.twitter.com/shIUmIaqcu
In addition to Hilton, Rivers will play alongside tight end Jack Doyle, second-year receiver Parris Campbell, and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. Plus, Marlon Mack, rookie Jonathan Taylor, and Nyheim Hines will rotate in the backfield.
To make Rivers’ transition all the more seamless, he’ll reunite with former Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now the head coach in Indy. In 2015, Rivers posted a career-best 4,792 passing yards with Reich as his OC.
In Reich's first year with the Colts in 2018, Luck amassed 4,593 yards on 639 attempts (second most by a quarterback that year). Rivers attempted 591 passes last season in Los Angeles and topped Luck’s total from 2018 by 22 yards. Even if he tosses 365 fewer yards than he did last year, Rivers will still hit the Over.
Philip Rivers' regular-season passing touchdowns
A year after the Chargers went 12-4 and Rivers tied his third-highest touchdown total (32), the quarterback stumbled to a 5-11 record and scored only 23 times through the air in 2019.
Before 2019, Rivers recorded at least 27 touchdown passes in every season dating back to 2008 — with the exception of that dismal 2012 season, in which he put up 26 TDs.
In 2018, under Reich’s system, Luck fell one short of his career-high 40 touchdown passes (2014). The next year, Brissett and backup Brian Hoyer combined for 22 scores passing during the Colts’ injury-riddled season.
Looking back to Rivers’ history with Reich, the quarterback notched 31 and 29 touchdown passes in 2014 and 2015, respectively, while Reich was offensive coordinator. Rivers had 32 touchdown passes in 2013, the year Reich served as quarterbacks coach in San Diego.
Assuming the Colts roster can stay healthy in 2020, Rivers should see his scoring skyrocket, compared to his final season with the Chargers.