After zero turnover-worthy plays this preseason, Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence is a strong bet to go UNDER .5 interceptions vs. a Commanders secondary devoid of ball hawks.
Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson is poised to benefit from a new scheme and go OVER his combined rush-receiving total of 54.5 yards.
Estimated reading time: 6 mins
While mispriced game lines get hammered to a pulp with cash early on, mispriced props can often sit unnoticed from big money throughout the week. It's important to note that big bettors often avoid props because they're more frequently limited than spreads by many books, but that doesn't mean there aren't profitable prop-betting opportunities worth consideration. I’ll be writing this column weekly, identifying mismatches throughout the NFL schedule that haven’t been properly taken into consideration by Vegas book makers. These are the five that stood out this week.
Bet: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence Under .5 INT (+130 on DraftKings)
Not every quarterback is going to look like Justin Herbert as a rookie. There’s a well-established history of even the most-highly touted QB prospects turning the ball over at will as rookies then fixing that in Year 2. Peyton Manning led the league in interceptions as a rookie with 28 before chopping that down to 15 in his second season. Andrew Luck had 18 intereceptions as a rookie before cutting that in half to nine in Year 2 (and chopping his turnover-worthy plays from 40 to 23). And maybe the closest corollary given the head coaching connection, Caron Wentz went from 14 interceptions as a rookie to seven in Year 2. So, when Trevor Lawrence doesn’t have a single turnover-worthy play on 24 dropbacks this preseason, it’s a safe bet his INT total is going to nosedive from the 17 we saw in 2021.
The other half of this matchup is that it takes two players to complete an interception. And the Commanders simply don’t feature ball-hawks on their back end. Let’s look at the ball production of the Commanders secondary:
• S Bobby McCain had 4 in 2021 though has never had more than 2 any other year
• S Kamren Curl has only 3 picks in 2 years (0 last year)
• CB William Jackson had 2 interceptions in 2021, but 3 in his other four seasons
• CB Kendall Fuller is their best ball hawk with 2 seasons that featured 4 picks, but only one last year.
• CB Benjamin St Juste has never had an interceptions in the NFL or college
I’ll buy into Lawrence figuring it out early on this year with a stable coaching staff after what we saw from him on tape as a prospect.
Bet: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor OVER 95.5 rushing yards (-115 on PointsBet) + over 20.5 carries (+105 on DK)
One must look no further than last year to see why this matchup favors Taylor heavily. In games against Houston, Taylor had 14 carries for 145 in their first matchup and 32 carries for 143 yards at Houston. Even with Frank Reich stating he doesn’t want Taylor to have the same workload this season, this still feels bound to go over.
The Texans featured PFF's sixth-worst run defense in the NFL last season and made no material upgrades to their front seven except Jerry Hughes, who’s closer to a pass-rush specialist at this stage of his career (58.5 run defense grade in 2021). Heck, Houston even traded away its 2020 second-round defensive tackle in Ross Blacklock.
From a Colts perspective, it also makes sense to lean on the ground game with uncertainty at left tackle and right guard protecting Matt Ryan. If the Texans defensive front can do anything, it’s get after quarterbacks with Hughes (81.2 pass-rushing grade in 2021) and Jonathan Greenard (89.2) specializing in that department. Another arrow pointing toward a heavy ground attack.
If there is any saving grace for the Texans, it’s that safety Jalen Pitre still looked like an animal against the run this preseason. One sub-200-pound safety isn’t enough to sway me from Taylor going off in this one — especially when new Texans HC Lovie Smith still runs a Tampa-2 scheme that has two safeties lined up deep at the snap on over ⅕ of his defensive calls.
Bet: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes OVER 2.5 TDs (+135 on BetMGM)
The Cardinals are currently slated to start a cornerback that the Raiders didn’t even want to start. There’s really not much more to it. This secondary is weak, and Patrick Mahomes is … well … Patrick Mahomes. No starter in the Cardinals back seven earned higher than a 71.8 coverage grade a season ago.
Bet: Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson OVER 56.5 Rushing + Receiving yards (-115 on BetMGM)
More than the rest our our picks, this isn’t really about a matchup, but there are schematic changes unaccounted for in Patterson’s favor. Chiefly, going from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota at quarterback. In Mariota’s previous full season starting in 2018, running backs accounted for 64 of his 228 completions (28.1%) — one of the highest figures in the NFL. With a thin receiving corps after their two recent first-rounders, Atlanta's new quarterback is going to need all the weapons in the passing game he can get, boding well for Patterson’s receiving usage.
On the rushing front, the addition of Mariota at quarterback also helps in creating space in the run game. Although we’ve yet to see what Arthur Smith can do with a truly mobile quarterback, as he was only a tight ends coach when Mariota was starting for the Titans, the data is clear: option runs are far more effective league-wide than non-option runs. For every year on record at PFF, option runs have averaged more yards per carry than non-option runs, despite options being favored more in short-yardage situations. Last year the difference was 4.6 yards per carry vs. 4.3 yards per carry — although there are years in recent history where that difference is closer to a yard.
We’ve also seen Smith utilize option runs with success even with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. He ran 42 option runs from 2019-20, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. That will all help Patterson overcome what his rushing prop suggests is an unfavorable rushing matchup.
Bet 49ers QB Trey Lance UNDER 16.5 completions (-105 on DK), UNDER 25.5 pass attempts (+104 on Caesars)
The entire plan for mortgaging what the 49ers did to draft Trey Lance was to unlock the entire playbook. That means more deep shots and more QB-involved runs than ever before. If we harken back to the most recent time Kyle Shanahan had a mobile quarterback, in 2012 with then-rookie Robert Griffin III, we see that RG3 went under both the props above on nine of his 16 starts that season.
There are two more factors at play here that make those unders tantalizing. The first is that the 49ers are 7-point favorites despite being on the road. That suggests a positive game script for San Francisco and it being unlikely Lance will have to pass his way out of a hole late in the game. The second is that the 49ers may not have to pass at all with the state of this Bears defensive line vs. the run.
Gone are the days of Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, and Khalil Mack clogging up rushing lanes in the middle of Chicago’s defense. Now, the Bears starting defensive line features three players who were backups at their previous stops. You can see the 2021 run defense grades of their projected starters below:
|DT Justin Jones||55.2|
|DT Angelo Blackson||51.9|
|DE Robert Quinn||52|
|DE Al-Quadin Muhammad||63.4|
That’s not going to cut it against the 49ers on the ground, meaning more runs and fewer passes for Lance.