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Best NFL Week 1 Thursday Night Football single-game & player prop bets

Island games are the highlight of any NFL week for betting enthusiasts. As the industry continues to grow, some of the most discussed moments belong to single-game opportunities.

As such, below is the only betting guide needed to unearth tons of expected value for each Thursday night contest throughout the 2021 NFL regular season.

We begin with a Week 1 contest between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.


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GAME LINES

It’s already been a wild week for the Thursday Night Football spread, and the players haven’t even gone through warmups yet. After opening at Buccaneers -6, the spread is now up to Buccaneers -8.

Analytics don’t believe in a Super Bowl hangover. What they do believe in is Tampa Bay's No. 1-ranked roster and Tom Brady’s continued dominance at the ripe age of 44.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is going to need a Herculean performance from Connor McGovern (61.7 offensive grade in 2020) in place of All-Pro guard Zack Martin (91.3), who tested positive for COVID-19. On average, each offensive lineman a team doesn't carry over from the previous season's Week 1 is worth about 0.7 of a point to the point spread, and the Buccaneers have one of the best interior defensive lines in the NFL. Vita Vea (90.1 defensive grade in 2020) is a beast at nose tackle, and expect Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to dial up creative blitzes up the middle to produce pressure 

The other key matchup to watch in favor of the Buccaneers is their wide receivers versus Dallas’ cornerbacks. Not only does Tampa Bay boast the NFL's deepest wide receiver room, headlined by the three-headed monster of Mike Evans (75.0 PFF receiving grade in 2020), Antonio Brown (86) and Chris Godwin (80.9), but the Cowboys' secondary also notoriously struggled in coverage in 2020; Dallas cornerbacks finished the season ranked 26th in coverage grade. 

There could be a sneaky backdoor cover in this game, given the explosiveness of the Cowboys’ passing attack, but injuries and the coronavirus' impact on a few key Dallas players and the mismatch at key position battles give Tampa Bay a big advantage.

As for the total, PFF Greenline gives the under a 54.2% chance of covering. That’s strong value, even at -110.

PICKS: Buccaneers -8 and UNDER 51.5

DERIVATIVE BETS

A derivative is any betting line that is derived from another. The most common example is first-half odds, which are derived from the full-game counterpart. Numerous other options exist, however, spanning from first-half spreads and totals to betting by the quarter.

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