Predicting Over/Unders for Colts quarterback Philip Rivers in 2020.
Indianapolis Colts fans have to wonder about their new (old) quarterback’s 2020 statistical Over/Under: Is Philip Rivers OVER the hill, or UNDER the radar? Review the factors below, then in comments, pick your over or under on Rivers’ key stats for the Colts 2020 season.
Some talking heads (like Stephen A. Smith) are saying Rivers is over the hill and some journalists (like Peter King) are saying Phil is under-estimated. Most are saying “Wait and see”.
Waiting is the safe call, but also boring. So I’m asking you to consider everything, then put your cash down on this dark horse, a Colt, to either win or lose, — there is no draw. There is no ‘wait and see’.
There are a lot of moving parts in predicting key stats on a QB, especially when he has moved to a new team, and nearing the end of his career. Here’s a quick review of the base variables in play:
Rivers’ key stats from last season, compared with 18 months ago (end of 2018 season):
2019 Comp % 66.0 Yds 4,615 Y/A 7.8 TDs 23 Ints 20 Record: 5-11
2018* Comp % 68.3 Yds 4,308 Y/A 8.5 TDs 32 Ints 12 Record: 12-4
* won WC playoff game against Ravens, and 4th in MVP voting.
Pros (Over/) and Cons (/Under) :
CON: Rivers had 20 interceptions, 8 fumbles and was sacked 32 times last season.
PRO: Those 3 stats tie together and are symptomatic: his O-line was usually a dotted line. He was often playing from behind, and chucking it to win the game in the 4th quarter. Rivers has declined, but that drop-off is nominal. Ol’ Phil has always has been a gunslinger, he always has made some glaring mistakes, — but he always has given his team a chance to win. And, he has made a comeback three times before, once from a season with an even worse interception total.
CON: Rivers is very old for a starting quarterback, and it is showing. Rivers’ arm strength is noticeably weaker, and the stats on long passes last year expose that.
"“Hut! (and one, and–” [SPLAT]"
It’s hard to throw long when time is short, especially when you have under two seconds to release the ball, which happened too often last season. But let’s say for argument that Head Coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni are wrong, and deep throws are beyond Rivers’ power. All plays are still evaluated practically, in practice. If Rivers can’t do something well, that play is shelved. Or pop in Jacoby Brissett or even rookie Jacob Eason for a special play or series, like Taysom Hill with the Saints. Coaches design plays for the players they have.
CON: Rivers’ receivers covered for his poor passes. For the last two seasons, the Chargers’ main receivers (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler) performed considerably better than the Colts’ squad. Colts rookies Michael Pittman Jr. and Dezmon Patmon are probably not plug-and-play ready and, even healthy, T.Y. Hilton is, like Rivers, past his peak.
PRO: There is some truth in those points. But the Chargers’ talented receivers still owed much of their superior numbers to Rivers being superior to Jacoby Brissett, despite Rivers being poorly defended by the Chargers’ 0-line. That Bolts receiving core ranked bottom eight for dropped passes last season.
With the Colts’ Top-3 offensive line, however, Rivers doesn’t have to throw for long first downs so predictably. And the Colts O-line does not just excel in pass protection: the Colts’ run game is superior to the Bolts.
Those who watched the Chargers’ former starting running back Melvin Gordon closely over the past four years know that the talented Mr. Gordon made critical mistakes often, which burdened the passing game, and the scoreboard, on too many afternoons. In Indy, however, Rivers no longer has to win the game by forcing the pass. The Colts running game, with the stallions up front, is going to stampede — and trample — opponents.
Rivers’ 2020 Regular Season O/U:
WINS: 2018: 12 2019: 5 O/U: 9.6 wins (= playoffs boundary line)
Yards: 2018: 4,308 2019: 4,615 O/U: 3,651 yds (MGM Line: 3,200 yds)
TDs: 2018: 32 2019: 23 O/U: 26.1 TDs (He’ll trust RBs at goal-line)
INTS: 2018: 12 2019: 20 O/U: 14.5 Ints (less desperate passing & more time)
COMPL: 2018: 68.3% 2019: 66.0% O/U: 67.8% Compl. (fewer bombs that are stolen)
PassR: 2018: 105.5 2019: 88.5 O/U: 99.9 Pass Rating(via elite O-Line)
QBR: 2018: 88.5 2019: 48.6 O/U: 81.1 QBR (Less pass plays, more control)
My Own Bets:
The real betting line is the offensive line. They are the fresh wind in the sails of Rivers. If the O-Line or Rivers gets injured significantly, prepare to abandon ship.
If injuries are manageable, however, then more time to throw and a strong run game will overcome Father Time and unknowns in the receiving corps. That means I’m also betting on architects Reich, Sirianni & Ballard. I’m going all in. I’m “betting” OVER on all categories.
Place your own “bets” below:
Go on the record in Comments below, Put your over/under “bets” from #1 to 7.