This is a big season for Derek Carr. As he enters his seventh year as the Raiders’ starter, he’ll be doing so in a new city (Las Vegas) with a new back-up (Marcus Mariota) and a shiny new first-round wide receiver (Henry Ruggs III). Expectations will be fairly high as well, as the Raiders hope for a strong showing in their inaugural campaign in Sin City.
Will the pressure crack Carr or will he produce a gem of a season?
Let’s take a look at what the oddsmakers think. Westgate SuperBook released several Raiders prop bets, including how many touchdowns Carr will throw in 2020.
Upon first glance, that number seems extremely low. Carr’s career-low in touchdown passes is 19 in 2018. He has a 32-touchdown under his belt and has averaged 23 touchdowns per season in the other four years. Is that over as juicy as it looks?
Pros for betting OVER; Cons for betting UNDER
Aside from this number being posted 1.5 touchdowns below his career-worst season, it also anticipates absolutely no improvement on Carr’s recent touchdown percentage in addition to either losing his job to Mariota or missing several games due to injury. If you do not believe Carr loses his job, hammer the over.
There are a few other reasons to like the over, too. Let’s talk about weapons. While tight end Darren Waller emerged last season and wide receiver Tyrell Williams flashed at times, Carr has lacked the weapons necessary to succeed at his highest level since the departures of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Carr’s touchdown percentage when Cooper and Crabtree were on the field hovered around 5%. Over the last two seasons (even including Cooper’s six games in 2018), his touchdown percentage dropped down to 3.75%. That drop equates to about 6.6 touchdowns per 533 attempts, the number Carr’s averaged over the last two years.
Let’s assume Carr—with the addition of Ruggs, a healthy Williams and another year of Waller—gets back to a 5% touchdown rate in 2020. In that scenario, Carr only needs to throw 360 passes to reach the 18-touchdown mark. The former Fresno State QB hit that mark during the Raiders’ Week 13 game against the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Even at his 4.1% touchdown rate from 2019, Carr would need only 440 pass attempts to reach 18 touchdowns. Keep in mind he’s averaging 552 pass attempts per season in his career and never had fewer than last season’s 513.
Pros for betting UNDER; Cons for betting OVER
The only pro for taking the under involves Mariota taking over the starting job. The Raiders paid a premium for the back-up quarterback this offseason, signing him to a two-year, $17.6 million deal. Carr has only one winning season in his career and has a chance of being benched should he struggle for a prolonged stretch in 2020. I’m not buying it, though.
Betting Advice: Carr has been fine when he’s had weapons around him and he operated Jon Gruden’s offense quite well in 2019. The leash is a lot longer than most anticipate. He could even miss 2-3 games due to injury without being in danger of falling under this total.
The Play: OVER 17.5 touchdowns (-110)
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