We often try to trick ourselves into believing the best-case scenario when it comes to injured NFL players.
Just because a player is back on the field doesn't mean he's back to his old self. The best recent example of this was the unending optimism for Ben Roethlisberger last season, when he was coming off elbow surgery. You couldn't find anyone questioning how he'd hold up, simply because he was back on the field. By the end of the season, we all saw he wasn't throwing the ball with nearly the same zip as usual.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's injury was a bad one. He was having a fine rookie season, then was hit low. Burrow tore his ACL and MCL, and reportedly had partial tears in his PCL and meniscus. It was a serious injury.
Burrow is back on the field. All reports are positive. But assuming he'll be back to normal is risky.
Joe Burrow's injury is concerning
BetMGM's passing yardage total for Burrow is 4200.5. If not for the injury, you'd bet the over with confidence.
There's a formula for Burrow to have a great season. He has three top-end receivers in Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, as well as a running back in Joe Mixon that can catch the ball. The Bengals want to throw the ball often. They aren't considered one of the better teams in the NFL, which means a lot of pass-heavy game scripts.
If you wanted to bet the over on Burrow based on those factors, it's justified. Burrow would have to throw for about 247.1 yards per game to hit the over. He threw for 276.1 per game last season, not counting the game in which he injured his knee. And the Bengals offense should be better after picking Chase with the fifth overall pick.
The relatively small number for his passing yardage total at BetMGM recognizes the risk. It's twofold. Burrow could miss games. That's a risk for any player. There's also the chance he isn't effective, at least right away. This quote from Boyd raised some concerns:
Tyler Boyd today on Joe Burrow's progress:
"I think he's a little iffy on his knee, but it's hard to tell. I think he's ready to go, but he doesn't want to do too much."
Just one quote, but TB perfectly described what JB looks like right now. #Bengals @fox19
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) August 4, 2021
There are many reasons to believe in Burrow having a very good second season, but I can't take the over. Injury optimism rarely works out. I won't be investing in the under either, because if Burrow plays 17 games he could hit 4,200 yards even if he's not quite what he was last season.
It's a reminder that when a total looks too low to be true, there's a reason. Taking the over on Burrow might not be wrong, but beware the risk involved.
Previous BetMGM player prop breakdowns