I have two solid, annual Ten Yard Fight topics each July/August, and the first one comes today. I am not even going to tell you what next week's topic is because I always take so much heat on it every year, I will just keep that heat reserved for next week.
Today, the heat is on you. I will propose ten Prop Bet scenarios and everyone gets to ring in on them below. Some of these represent low-hanging fruit, but I did try to branch out a little from the easy pickings. My pick for each is in bold in the write-up that accompanies all the bets.
1. Games Played By Leonard Hankerson in 2012: O/U 4.5
See? I went with one that breaks my heart right away. I am taking the Over on this out of love and support for Hank the Tank, but this whole thing underscores the situation surrounding Hank. I have been way out in front of this one, to my detriment. This guy has the tools to be a factor in our offense, but injuries in the NFL pay no attention to potential and expectations. The real opportunity Hankerson has this year is to get in sync with Robert Griffin III at the outset of RG3's career. If both stay healthy and become familiar with each other, our offense will see major dividends. If Hank the Tank can't get on the field and stay on the field, he will join the endless ranks of players with undeniable talent that couldn't stick.
2. More Catches in 2012: Fred Davis or Pierre Garcon
I wouldn't call this a layup at all. I have to believe that if Pierre Garcon is our leading receiver in 2012, that will mean our offense had a pretty good season, because we can be certain Fred Davis will be targeted plenty. Part of this discussion should also consider the amount of catches that Roy Helu will steal from the wide receivers. I can easily see Helu becoming a favorite target of RG3--Griffin will definitely use Helu. It isn't sexy when your leading receiver is your tight end, but I think Sleepy is the right pick here. He is a big target, has proven he is capable of getting open, and should benefit from RG3 extending plays outside the pocket with his legs. I envision a lot of throws-on-the-run to Fred Davis in 2012.
3. Points Per Game in 2012 Regular Season: O/U 21
According to NFL.com, the Redskins put up 18 points per game in 2011. That ain't gonna stir the Kool-Aid. That is pretty much right at our 17ish number we have been consistently good for over the last handful of years or longer. If my math is correct, we would be approximately a full point higher in 2011 if we didn't have five blocked field goals. You might think jumping to 21 points per game would be a little bit silly, but it would likely still only put us in the lower middle third of the league. I suppose this is a referendum on how many more points per game you think RG3 is worth. I am taking the Over here because I think our offense will be more dynamic in 2012. I think defenses will have more to worry about than they did in 2011, and as a result, we will punch the ball into the end zone with more regularity.
4. More Total Yards From Scrimmage: Tim Hightower or Roy Helu
Man...this one is hard for me. If Tim Hightower is fully healed, he would be the logical starter and would therefore be in line to lead the running backs in this category. Let's assume for a moment that he stays healthy all season. He would probably be the leading rusher, but I still think that Mike Shanahan finds time for Helu and Royster throughout the year. The X-factor is Helu's receiving yards. I honestly believe that Helu and RG3 are going to be connecting in the passing game frequently. Even with Hightower staying healthy, I am going to wager that Helu hits on more big plays over the course of the year and edges out Hightower on the strength of his receiving yards.
5. Total Interceptions Thrown By RG3 in 2012: O/U 20
Well there you go...will RG3 throw more or less interceptions than Rex Grossman threw in 2011? No need for any long-winded explanation from me--I believe RG3 will keep his INT's Under that total.
6. Total Punt Return Touchdowns in 2012: O/U .5
We did not have a single punt return for a touchdown last year. Brandon Banks had his opportunities limited on kickoffs due to the changed rules, so I will focus on just the punt returns here. It remains to be seen if Banks will hold down his spot as our return specialist. There are definitely other options that will be considered--Aldrick Robinson is an early favorite of Kevin's to win the job. One measly touchdown seems like very little to ask, but we know that a lot has to go right on a punt return for the receiver to score. Since I have already predicted that Santana Moss will score a punt return touchdown in the 4th quarter of a game this season, I am naturally locked into the Over.
7. Team Leader in Total Tackles in 2012: London Fletcher or Perry Riley
This would be considered a softball. Until London hangs up the cleats, it is very reasonable to assume that he will just keep on truckin' at the middle linebacker position. His durability and longevity allow for very little legitimate speculation that he will simply fall off the map and fail to perform. I am taking London Fletcher here, but I think it is at least worth debating when Perry Riley will assert himself in the middle of the field for a full sixteen games and overtake the surefire Ring of Honor player.
8. Team Leader in Total Sacks in 2012: Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo
Orakpo edged out Kerrigan in 2011, but it was close enough (1.5 sacks apart according to Pro Football Reference.com) that in Kerrigan'ssecond year, he could overtake #98 in this category. I am going with Kerrigan because I do believe that Orakpo will continue to draw more attention from the opposing offensive lines. As UK pointed out last week, Jim Haslett did allow Orakpo to attack from the left side more toward the end of the season, which got him matched up against right tackles that could not handle him. I think Kerrigan will continue to see the bulk of the work from the left side, and in 2012, that gives him the edge for my money.
9. More Receptions in 2012: Chris Cooley or Niles Paul
Come on...I am trying to keep myself honest over here. You all know how I feel about Cooley. The truth is that there are question marks surrounding him this summer. There are those of us who wonder if Mike Shanahan is serious about cutting Cooley if he isn't 100% healthy when the final roster slicing occurs. I am going to ride the #47 car for one more year (at least). This is based on my assumption that he will be fully healthy, but I predict that Chris Cooley benefits from Fred Davis' success and becomes a very regular target of RG3. Niles' time is coming.
10. Record Against NFC East: O/U .499 (3-3 or better)
In 2011, the Redskins went 2-4 against their NFC East rivals. One more win would get us to .500 in 2012 and I admit this is an extraordinary challenge. If our two wins were not against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants last year, I would not even propose this. I don't think we can expect to sweep the Giants again. I don't expect to be swept by the Cowgirls again. It seems to me that the biggest obstacle to going .500 this year will come down to our ability to get at least one win against Philadelphia--the mere thought of sweeping the Eagles is somewhat ludicrous...on paper. Maybe it is because I think it will take a season for the division to adjust to RG3. Maybe it is because I think that Cowgirls will yet again play uninspired football. Maybe it is because I make stupid bets sometimes, but I am taking the Over on this. If we even have a prayer of sniffing playoff contention, this is a must.