Island games are the highlight of any NFL week for betting enthusiasts. And as the industry continues to grow, some of the most discussed moments belong to these single-game opportunities.
Last week's writeups went 9-7 for +2.7 units. Our overall record moves to 79-81, and we are up +14.69 units through 10 weeks.
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One of the easiest transitions into sports betting is through player props, as fantasy applications help evaluate betting opportunities.
Props are priced for a player's median stat projection in a simple, over-or-under, two-sided market. For historical context, we saw 53% of player props hit the under, regardless of the category, during the 2020 season.
Week 10 once again leaned heavily toward the under, with players finishing under their posted total at the highest rate of the season. It has been one-sided for player prop unders overall this year, so you are swimming upstream if trying to bet overs in this market. At this point in the season, the path of least resistance is to sweat out some unders, even if it feels uncomfortable at times.
Receiving-yardage unders remain the best props to target. And because target share is somewhat consistent but more difficult to predict than rushing-attempt share, reception totals are also a worthwhile betting category.
For bettors looking to target overs, rushing attempts and combined rushing and receiving yardage numbers present the best opportunities, but we have seen an uptick in interceptions and pass attempts, as well.
One of the best ways to quantify an edge is utilizing PFF's player props tool, as the ability to adjust both number and price means you are always certain of the expected value for each prop bet. Let’s dive into the best player props to bet for the NFL Thursday night game.
QB MATT RYAN: Over 1.5 passing TDs (+123)
Ryan's Week 10 performance was the worst of his season, as he set season-lows in PFF overall grade (46.6) and passing grade (46.8). It was an outlier performance in what has been a great season for the 36-year-old signal-caller, who ranks 10th among all quarterbacks with at least 100 snaps in passing grade this season.
Facing a Patriots secondary that ranks sixth in team run-defense grade in the red zone over the last three weeks, it would behoove Ryan and the Falcons to adopt a pass-heavy approach in the red zone, which should equate to Ryan throwing for at least two scores.
Not only has Ryan covered this number in six of the Falcons’ nine games this season, but PFF’s player props tool gives him a 49.6% chance to throw for two or more touchdowns in this game. And at +123 odds, it represents a positive expected value.
TE Kyle Pitts: Over 5.5 receptions (+134)
The Falcons' passing offense has turned into the “Kyle Pitts Show,” as the rookie tight end has been the primary target on 23% of the team’s passing plays since Week 4.
Pitts has been targeted at least six times a game over that same stretch, and over 88% of his targets have come with him as the first read. He has lived off intermediate targets — passes thrown between 1 and 19 yards downfield — with almost 85% of his total targets coming on these plays.
Pitts: Receiving statistics since Week 4
|Week||Routes run||Targets||Receptions||Receiving yards|
His high average depth of target (aDot) could scare some people away from his reception prop, but it's those regular intermediate targets that are causing his aDot to stand out.
This New England defense sits above league average in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, while their coverage unit ranks 10th overall. However, they have come up considerably short against opposing tight ends this year, as they have allowed the 10th-highest open-target percentage of any coverage unit working against the position. Kyle Pitts is no ordinary tight end and should be able to take full advantage of a Patriots coverage unit built to stop outside receivers.
Expect Pitts to see all the targets he can handle, especially if the Falcons fall behind. As long as they don’t completely bottom out like last week, Pitts should have little resistance in going over this reception prop number.
WR Russell Gage: Under 42.5 receiving yards (-114)
Falcons star receiver Calvin Ridley is still out due to personal matters, so Gage will once again serve as Atlanta's top wide receiver. However, don’t mistake him as a top receiving weapon, as both Cordarrelle Patterson (93.4 receiving grade) and Kyle Pitts (82.3) have emerged as Ryan’s go-to targets in the passing game.
This is simply because the fourth-year wide receiver has struggled without Ridley in the lineup. Gage, who plays 53% of his snaps from the slot, has earned just a 55.5 receiving grade in three games without Ridley this season. In that stretch, he's caught only seven of his 11 targets for 64 yards, all of which came in Week 9 against the Saints.
This amounts to an average of 21.3 yards per game — a far cry from his current prop number of 42.5 yards.
According to PFF’s WR/CB Matchup Chart, Gage has a “poor” 22.7 rating against the Patriots' cornerbacks. This, of course, includes a 19.5 rating against Patriots' slot cornerback Myles Bryant, who is projected to guard Gage on 55% of his snaps on Thursday.
PFF’s player props tool sees positive expected value in fading Gage in this game, too, as our model gives the fourth-year wide receiver just a 43.9% chance of covering this prop.