Is It the Year of the Backup Quarterback in the NFL?

Is It the Year of the Backup Quarterback in the NFL?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

This season, the rash of injuries to starting quarterbacks has been startling. The second and third-string quarterback positions have had even greater prominence than ever before, especially in the Buckeye State.

Utilizing ProFootballReference.com and to aid in your Ohio sports betting, BetOhio.com utilized statistics from the 2023 season in order to determine if backup quarterbacks truly are being difference-makers this year. Below are the results that may or may not surprise you:

Backup QBs 2023 Record

Record37-56
Win Percentage0.398
* — All QBs not listed as Week 1 starter were included.

Backup QBs as Weekly Top 5 Passing Leader

# of Backup QBs in Top 512 of 75 (16%)
* — The Top 5 passing yard leaders from Week 1 to 15.

Despite having to lean on backup quarterbacks, both Cincinnati and Cleveland are in playoff contention. The Bengals playoff odds are +220.

Overall, though the league’s backup quarterback record is not something to brag about. Backup QBs have posted a 37-56 record (39.8% win) as Week 16 games start Thursday when New Orleans (7-7) visits the Los Angeles Rams (7-7) at 8:15 p.m. ET (Amazon Prime Video). However, does the record correlate to the individual performance? Entering this week, backup QBs that ranked within the top 5 weekly passing leaders: 12 of 75 (16%).

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Ohio Teams Second to None

Both teams in Ohio are dealing with their backup situation on a weekly basis.

Since becoming the (8-6) starting quarterback in Week 12 replacing injured starter Joe Burrow, Jake Browning has led the Bengals to three victories in four starts, with a completion percentage of 76% and a 109.3 passer rating. He has recorded a passer rating of 95-or-higher in each start as he prepares for a road trip to AFC North rival Pittsburgh (7-7) at 4:30 p.m., Saturday (NBC). Ohio betting apps list Cincinnati as a 2-point road favorite.

Browning can become only the second quarterback since 1950 to record a passer rating of 95-or-higher in each of his first five career starts, joining guess who — San Francisco QB Brock Purdy. He also could surpass former New York Jets QB Chad Pennington (74.3% completion) for the highest completion percentage by a QB in his first five career starts since 1950.

It seems like Cleveland (9-5) has been in a quarterback quagmire every week as they prepare for a road trip to Houston (8-6) at 1 p.m., Sunday (CBS). The Browns are a 2.5-point favorite at Caesars Sportsbook Ohio.

Current starter and former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco (three starts), who is currently dealing with a calf injury, has been the fourth starter for the Browns this season (Deshaun Watson 6;  P.J. Walker 2; and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson 3). Last week, the 38-year-old Flacco threw for 374 yards (212 yards in the fourth quarter) in a come-from-behind 20-17 home victory over Chicago.

Despite all of the uncertainty for both teams, both have playoff chances that are alive and well. The Browns playoff odds are by far the strongest of the two teams at -900.

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Author

Lou Monaco
Reporter/Journalist

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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