• Bet Eagles WR DeVonta Smith o4.5 receptions: Given matchup considerations and a plus price despite Smith going over this number in five of his past six games, this the best bet to make on TNF.
• Smith will be on the field for 90%+ of dropbacks and is very much in line to be the focal point of the Eagles' offense.
• Bet Texans QB Davis Mills o1.5 rush yards: His rushing usage has been perplexing, but Mills is athletic enough to at least fall forward once and clear this prop Thursday, when his receiving options appear particularly problematic.
Last updated: Nov. 3, 12:15 p.m.
Estimated reading time: 7 mins
• Our prime-time previews pull all the key modeling numbers and simulated outcomes from PFF’s betting tools, including PFF NFL Greenline and the Player Props tool, which use top-down machine learning models backed by PFF’s exclusive data to derive value when compared to the betting market.
It won’t be the best version of football we see in 2022, but with the regular season reaching the halfway point we need to take advantage of every betting opportunity we still have. Let’s dive into the matchup with the Houston Texans taking on the Philadelphia Eagles.
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• Both spread and total have had one-sided movement throughout the week: With no one interested in taking a piece of the heavy road dog. Some injury concerns are also impacting this spread, with the Texans’ top two receiving options looking doubtful at best to play in this matchup. Philadelphia is the perfect team to beat up on inferior opponents — and that’s the outcome most project in what should easily turn into a one-sided affair.
• Houston plays cover-2 at the highest rate in the NFL: And on the surface this looks like the ideal scheme to slow down Jalen Hurts. When sending only four pass rushers, it allows a spy on the quarterback, which has been effective in limiting Hurts’ scrambling ability. Cover-2 also resulted in the second-lowest PFF passing grade for Hurts when facing off against specific coverage schemes.
• Hurts yet to throw a TD vs cover-2: And he only has one big-time throw and a 5.4 average depth of target (aDOT) vs this specific coverage. If Houston sticks to its gameplan, we could see a more dink-and-dunk approach to the Eagles offense on Thursday night, especially if they jump out to an early lead.
• PFF Greenline finds no value on the current spread or moneyline: The movement in the total’s market all but dried up the value on the over. With the questionable status of the Texans' top receiving options and a possible path for Houston in somewhat slowing the Eagles, this looks to be a spot to play an in game total — if the Texans show some sort of early offensive life. Thankfully, this game script opens up plenty of worthwhile opportunities in the player prop market.
Player props continue to grab a bigger share of bettors' attention and are one of the easiest transitions into sports betting, as fantasy applications are helpful for evaluating betting opportunities.
• Props are priced for a player's median stat projection in a simple, over-or-under, two-sided market: For historical context, unders are by far the most profitable angle to bet and could have been blindly bet toward the under on passing, rushing and receiving yardage props and been profitable.
• This season started off somewhat as expected: With rushing yards and receptions finishing heavily toward the under. This has been corrected of late with a lot of over reception props hitting in Weeks 7-8, moving the units won on the under to an almost breakeven number. Teams seem to be shifting their run/pass splits, resulting in higher attempts but also more negative outcomes because of the higher volume. There is also a macro trend related to average depth of target, with quarterbacks not pushing the ball downfield like we have seen in years past. This has led to fewer big-time throws and fewer touchdowns, which has caused Unders to be the correct spot to target in the game market.
• This has also played out dramatically on a per-week basis: With Week 6 being by far the most profitable time to bet unders. The rest of the weeks recently have seen balanced two-sided action across categories.
• One way to consistently find defined edges without blindly betting unders is by utilizing PFF's player props tool: 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 kickoff game.
Bet: DeVonta Smith — Over 4.5 Receptions (+130)
Bet Gameplan: Playable to +105
• After the Eagles' beatdown of the Steelers at the hands of A.J. Brown: Most are undervaluing the importance of Smith to this Eagles offense. He sat at his lowest number of offensive snaps played and routes run in Week 8, but this was a situation where the entire starting Eagles receiving unit was pulled back with the game out of reach. Smith will still be on the field for 90%+ of dropbacks and is very much in line to be the focal point of the Eagles offense in Week 9.
• Houston could be solely focused on stopping shots over the top to Brown: So, Smith commanding a higher number of targets is a very good possibility. Add in the expectation that the Eagles are up early and will be looking to move the chains methodically with throws underneath, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith out-target Brown. Given the matchup considerations and the fact we are getting a heavy plus price despite Smith going over this number in five of his past six games, this is the best bet to make on TNF.
Bet: Davis Mills — Over 1.5 rush yards (-117) Caesars
Bet Gameplan: Playable to -130
• Mills' rushing usage has been perplexing so far in 2022: Week 8’s matchup against the Titans was the first time Mills registered a scramble all season — and he finished the game with two scrambles. He’s had a designed rush attempt in four of seven games this season, but last year Mills flashed enough athleticism to be able to clear a lowly rushing-yardage prop number like this.
• They rank 11th in pressure rate, but the Eagles are in the bottom half of the NFL in blitz rate: The problem for Houston is the question marks at wide receiver. With Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks unavailable, Houston's backups haven't shown the ability to separate yet at the NFL level. This should prove even more difficult against a Philadelphia coverage unit that ranks in the top 10 based on PFF opponent-adjusted grades. Instead of a few “coverage sacks,” one of those could break in the right direction, with Mills only needing to fall forward to clear this prop number. If the game gets out of hand early, expect Mills to resort to any means necessary to move the chains, leading to an uptick in rushing volume and therefore yards on Thursday night.
DERIVATIVE BETS & SAME-GAME PARLAY
• Buying low on DeVonta Smith is my favorite betting approach for Thursday night: He’s operating as the underneath receiving option for the Eagles and should see an increased volume projection with the Texans defense focused on A.J. Brown. His matchup against Steven Nelson is one the Eagles should easily win, and if one or two manufactured targets happen on the opening script of plays, Smith will be well on his way to not only clearing his reception prop number, but also finding pay dirt.
Pairing those two legs with a quarterback rushing prop against a solid pass rush unit sets us up with a nice payout of +750 on Caesars:
SGP build (+750 Caesars)
• DeVonta Smith 5+ Receptions
• DeVonta Smith Anytime TD
• Davis Mills O1.5 Rushing Yards
Ben's ultimate primetime betting previews are 41-53 entering Week 9.