Tom Brady total passing touchdowns during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 33.5 (-115)
Under 33.5 (-115)
Brady will turn 40 just before the start of the regular season and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, which should make defensive coordinators around the league cringe. Inspired by his suspension for the Deflategate fiasco last season, Brady stuck it to the NFL by leading the Pats to another Super Bowl title and earning his fourth MVP award with a stunning comeback victory over the Falcons.
The four-game suspension at the start of last season kept the numbers below usual Brady standards and his 28 touchdown passes were his second-fewest in the last eight seasons. But averaged over a 16-game season that number would be 37, easily going over his projected total of 33.5 for 2017. And with Brady as the starter, the Patriots have ranked in the top-5 in scoring in each of the last seven seasons.
Several factors have me leaning towards the over on this bet. Brady and Bill Belichick are perfectionists and the offense is methodical and efficient. Rarely does Brady waste possessions, he threw just two interceptions in 291 pass attempts last season and averages a pick for every 54 pass attempts during his career. As a result the Pats have been a top offense during Brady’s tenure.
New England brought in Brandin Cooks in a trade with New Orleans, giving Brady and the offense a burner who can spread the field and break a big play. For the last few seasons the Pats relied on a possession passing game with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Edelman caught 98 passes last year for 1,106 yards and averages 10.7 yards per reception during his career. Cooks had 1,173 yards on 20 fewer catches and averaged 15 yards per catch.
The biggest reason, though, is the return of Gronk. Brady and Rob Gronkowski have a special relationship on the field and Gronk is back after having his 2016 cut short due to injury. Over the previous two seasons, Gronk had 152 receptions and 23 touchdowns. He was Brady’s favorite target and is a beast in the red zone. “He looks like Gronk,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said during OTAs.
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Brady has a unique group of receivers entering the season and it could be the best since the 2007 season when Tom Terrific tossed 50 scoring passes. Randy Moss was the speedster who caught nearly half of those scores. Wes Welker was the possession receiver and Ben Watson played the role of tight end. Cooks, Edelman and Gronkowski all stack up against that trio that helped the Pats to the Super Bowl.
But this year’s group has yet to prove anything. Cooks is in his first season with the team after catching passes from Drew Brees the previous three. And while everything points to Gronk being recovered from his back surgery, we still don’t know how the season plays out for him.
Then, of course, there’s Brady. He is turning 40 in August and his body has taken a pounding over his career with every one of the last eight seasons being extended by at least one game and three going an additional three games. It doesn’t seem like much, but the abuse adds up. And we likely won’t see much of Brady during the exhibition season, limiting his chance to work on timing with Cooks and to get reacquainted with Gronk.
The passing touchdown total doesn’t seem too high, which makes us think the over is a smart play. The Pats parted ways with leading rusher LaGarrette Blount and will use a committee in the backfield. James White and Dion Lewis are both excellent receivers and excel in the short game. Brady will use all his tools and surpass the total in 2017.
NFL Prediction: Tom Brady OVER 33.5 Passing Touchdowns