Raybon’s QB Confidence Rankings: Who To Trust In the Divisional Round
Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill
An utterly insane Wild Card Weekend that saw Ryan Tannehill’s Titans upset Tom Brady’s Patriots and Kirk Cousins’ Vikings upset Drew Brees’ Saints was a good reminder that while the team with the best quarterback doesn’t always win or cover, the men who lineup behind center remain more likely to swing the outcome of a game than any other factor.
And while we know a quarterback won’t always be the deciding factor in whether a team covers, if they do end up being the X-factor, how confident should we be that they will get the job done? To that end, I’ve decided to rank the eight Divisional Round starting quarterbacks in order of betting confidence.
Let’s run through what factors I considered, then dig into the actual rankings.
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Divisional Round QB Confidence Rankings
In assembling these rankings, I take into account how well the eight quarterbacks performed vs. the odds in the past, particularly in similar situations — favorite/underdog, home/road, vs. wining teams this season, etc.
I also look at how they compare to each other in three key metrics:
- Yards Per Play: Passing yards plus rushing yards minus sack yards lost, divided by total dropbacks plus carries. This measures how efficient is a quarterback at moving his team downfield when he has the ball in his hands, regardless of whether he tends to rely more on his arm or his legs.
- Third/Fourth-Down Conversion Rate: Rate of first down conversions on all third- or fourth-down plays in which the quarterback either dropped back or had a rushing attempt. I chose third/fourth down splits over other “clutch” situational splits, such as red-zone conversion rate, passing under pressure, etc., because it encompasses each of the latter. Ultimately, we want a quarterback who can convert late in the down, regardless of whether they’re in the red zone, pressured, etc.
- Percentage of Negative Plays: Sacks plus interceptions plus total fumbles divided by dropbacks plus carries. This is essentially the “game manager” component. Though turnovers are relatively unpredictable, they still have an outsized impact on the final outcome, and quarterbacks are generally responsible for the majority of their team’s turnovers. To get a greater sense of turnover-worthy plays, I include fumbles both lost and recovered rather than just fumbles lost, and I also include sacks despite the aforementioned yards per play metric already accounting for sack yardage lost, as sacks tend to result in fumbles at a high rate.
Without further ado, here are my QB Confidence Rankings for the Divisional Round.
Note: All betting data is via Bet Labs. Passing under pressure data is via Pro Football Focus. Blitz rates, pressure rates, QB knockdown rates and all other data is via Pro Football Reference. All data includes regular and postseason unless otherwise noted.
8. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
+9.5 at Ravens, +350
- Overall: 50-49 Straight Up (SU), 48-48-3 Against the Spread (ATS)
- Underdog: 24-34 SU, 29-28-1 ATS
- Road: 19-29 SU, 22-26 ATS
- Postseason: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS
- Overall: 8-3 SU, 7-3-1 ATS
- vs. Winning Teams: 3-2 SU*, 3-2 ATS*
- Yards Per Play: 7.35 (second)
- 3rd/4th Down: 40.5% (sixth)
- Negative Plays: 12.4% (eighth)
*One win came against Texans as they rested their starters in Week 17
Reasons to Believe: Tannehill beat Brady and Bill Belichick. In the playoffs. In Foxborough.
He’s not only gone 8-3 SU, but has also been a cover machine, posting a 7-3-1 ATS mark. His 7.35 yards per play is second only to Patrick Mahomes among passers still alive entering the Divisional Round.
Also: Trent Dilfer, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have won Super Bowls.
Why You Might Regret It: He didn’t beat Brady and Belichick. Sure, his squad notched the win, but Tannehill was about as easy to find as Jimmy Hoffa’s remains. The former Dolphin attempted only 15 passes, completing eight for 72 yards while the Titans ran the ball 40 times for 201 yards.