• Bet Patrick Mahomes O 2.5 pass TDs (+115 BetMGM): Mahomes is 13-8 to the over since start of 2021 season.
• Bet Mecole Hardman U 3.5 catches (-105 BetMGM): All six of Hardman's Week 1 targets were designed first reads, and rookie Skyy Moore looms.
• Bet U 54 total points: Both PFF Greenline and our play-by-play simulation show edges on UNDER 54.
• We started off on the right foot last Thursday night, when we scooped the same-game parlay and came so close to hitting it Monday night again. Through three write-ups, we are up 2.45 units. Let’s dive into the Week 2 marquee matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.
• 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.
Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Regular season Game of the Year hype is already building for this matchup between two teams expected to sit atop the AFC West. Kansas City opened as a three-point home favorite back in May and received a slight bump up to -4 after their dominating performance in Week 1.
The Chargers were up to their old ways in Week 1, dominating from a stats perspective but allowing the Raiders to hang around until the bitter end. Bettors seem torn on how to digest this information. If the Chargers are going to make the leap to legitimate contender, those are the games they absolutely have to put away early.
• PFF’s Greenline model and play-by-play simulation are dead on the current -4 market number and see no value on either side of the spread or money line.
• The total moved from a 52.5-point open in May up to 54, after testing 54.5 early in the week and retreading from that high. Both PFF Greenline and the simulation see some value in this game finishing under the current total. It’s counter to the narrative projecting this Game of the Year material, but if both offenses start out slow we will have a difficult time reaching the highest total of Week 2.
It’s never the most enjoyable play, but taking the under looks like the only viable betting opportunity as far as a side or total in this Thursday-night matchup.
Bet: Under 54 (-110 BetMGM)
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 Patrick Mahomes Over 2.5 Passing TDs (+115 BetMGM)
• Death, taxes and Mahomes over 2.5 passing TDs at plus money: We’ve been riding it for years — and it was the PFF Forecast lock of the Week last week that cashed with ease. There’s no reason to get cute and stray away from whats already working.
Patrick Mahomes was absolutely lights out in Week 1, despite a relatively modest grade and only one big-time throw. His ability to circumvent pressure and avoid highly negative sack plays keeps this offense on pace every drive.
• The Chargers have name recognition in their secondary: Yet they haven’t put it all together with the 18th-best opponent-adjusted coverage grade dating back to last season. Things could change with a healthy J.C. Jackson, but betting on an immediate outsized impact from one slightly injured player to slow down the best player in the league is not a sound approach this early in the season.
PFF’s play-by-play simulation isn’t as bullish on Patrick Mahomes to go over 2.5 passing touchdowns, giving a probability of 3+ at 40.8% or a price of +145.
Nonetheless, Mahomes' previous results have been so good that this looks like a spot to overlook the simulation. Mahomes has gone over his closing prop number in each of his past eight games, and is 13-8 for the over since 2021.
Bet Mecole Hardman Under 3.5 Receptions (-105 BetMGM)
• The Chiefs' receiver-by-committee approach got off to a rousing start: The usage is already defining who will be the focal points of this passing offense. One player that already looks to be taking a back seat is Mecole Hardman, who ran a route on 60% of dropbacks, though he did receive six targets. He was the first read on all six of his targets — all designed screens and short flair outs or deep shots downfield. He still isn’t being asked to work the middle of the field, so if Hardman is not getting manufactured targets close to the line of scrimmage, it will be extremely difficult for him to go over this reception number.
Skyy Moore only played seven receiving snaps on Sunday and looks like the clear backup to Mecole Hardman. But he also looks capable of winning downfield in a way that Hardman never has, so his involvement should grow quickly overtime. Betting on the better, younger player is always a sound approach in the player prop market, and this is the most obvious situation to capitalize on Thursday night.
Both PFF’s player prop tool and play-by-simulation show value on Hardman to finish short of this 3.5 receptions.
DERIVATIVE BETS & SAME-GAME PARLAY
It’s often more profitable to fade the public perception for how a game will play out than going with the popular narrative. The total moved up 1.5 points from the opening number, and although it caught some resistance, it remains a sky-high number. Every tool points toward this game going under, and the player props tool projects a similar outlook.
One of the main handicaps to get right is the Chargers' target share without Keenan Allen, and if Justin Herbert will continue to distribute the football to a wide range of pass catchers. Our props tool likes Chargers outside receivers Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer to finish under their lofty reception prop numbers, given that a majority of their targets will be of the high-depth variety.
• If most of the target share is underneath to Austin Ekeler, Gerald Everett and DeAndre Carter, as the Chiefs are focused on stopping the downfield passing attack, then these players should finish well short of their numbers. There’s also the possiblity that the Chargers offense collapses or has an off night, leading to an anemic output with few reps or opportunities. There are a number of ways that the Chargers offense could go, but one of the best bets is a potential struggle to hit shots downfield. Pairing the downside outlook with Hardman to also go under is one of the best betting opportunities if this game doesn’t exactly live up to the hype.
SGP Build (+575 Caesars):
• Mike Williams Under 4.5 Receptions
• Joshua Palmer Under 4.5 Receptions
• Mecole Hardman Under 3.5 Receptions
PFF’s newest tool is a play-by-play simulation that uses a bottoms-up prediction approach backed once again on PFF data and state-of-the-art machine learning models.