• Patrick Mahomes O 2.5 passing TDs: He's gone over in all four Week 1 starts.
• Keenan Allen O 5.5 receptions: this this number in 7 of past 9 full games against Raiders.
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Estimated reading time: 4 min
Play of the Week: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes OVER 2.5 passing TDs (+135 BetMGM)
• Patrick Mahomes is the greatest Week 1 quarterback in recent NFL history: When going back to 2006, no quarterback has an higher expected points added (EPA) per play, or completion percentage over expected (CPOE) than Mahomes does. Plus, he’s gone over 2.5 passing TDs in each of his four Week 1 starts.
• Cardinals ‘D' worsened this offseason: They lost Chandler Jones, and they’ll likely be relying on JJ Watt, Markus Golden, and Dennis Gardeck to generate pressure versus a pretty good Chiefs offensive line. Arizona recently traded for Trayvon Mullen to improve a pretty weak corner room, but he's out Sunday with a toe injury. Add this to Mahomes’ historical Week 1 success, and we think another vintage Week 1 Mahomes performance is imminent.
Bet: Texans QB Davis Mills longest pass completion UNDER 34.5 yards (-120 DraftKings)
• Bad Texans pass offense: This is a unique prop, but we have sound reasoning for its selection. The Texans passing offense is going to be bad this year. They have Brandin Cooks — who’s a pretty good receiver — but the rest of the WR room is subpar. Though Davis Mills surprised as a rookie, he’s likely nothing more than an average quarterback at his peak. In seven preseason drives, Mills never completed a pass that went over 34.5 yards. Last season, the Texans ranked 25th in deep pass attempts, dead last in explosive passing plays (15+ yards), and 26th in YAC.
• New Colts DC Gus Bradley’s philosophy plays in perfectly to this prop: Playing the Legion of Boom single-high cover 3 scheme is meant to limit the big plays and force teams to hit the flats more often. Bradley's 2021 Raiders ‘D' ranked 3rd in explosive passes allowed despite subpar coverage options. The Colts signed ex-Raider Brandon Facyson in the offseason but also have former DPOY Stephon Gilmore — who’s reportedly looked great in camp — and one of the game’s best slot corners in Kenny Moore II. When Bradley plays with a lead, he goes ultra conservative, playing a lot of Cover 3 and prevent defense, and while that does let the offense move the ball down the field easily, it limits the shot plays.
Bet: Chargers WR Keenan Allen OVER 5.5 receptions (-155 Draftkings)
• Mr. Reliable: For years, Keenan Allen has been one of the NFL's more reliable receivers. Five straight seasons of 97-plus receptions is tough to repeat from any player. We are backing him in what is projected to be a high-scoring game vs. the Raiders in LA. While there is a lot of juice on this prop, we think he has a very high chance of hitting it. First off, Allen sees a Raiders team against which he’s consistently succeeded. He’s gathered in 6-plus receptions in 7 of their last 9 full matchups.
•Chargers will chuck it: They had one of the highest neutral game script passing rates in the league, and with the continuity on the coaching staff, this really shouldn’t change much this season.
• Raiders new scheme plays to Allen’s strengths: With DC Patrick Graham, the Raiders are likely to employ more 2-high split safety coverages — which eliminate the deep ball and force the Chargers to win underneath, where Keenan thrives. I could easily see him having the type of game Stefon Diggs did Thursday, when Buffalo’s WR1 torched the Rams early underneath. Defenses are going to be wary of Herbert’s arm this season, meaning guys like Allen and RB Austin Ekeler are going to do plenty of damage underneath.
Bet: Saints RB Alvin Kamara anytime TD (-125 Draftkings)
• Familiar foe: Atlanta allowed 19 rushing TDs last season — No. 26 in the NFL — and Kamara has always thrived against his division rival. This offseason, the Falcons lost Foye Oluokun to free agency and their best linebacker, Deion Jones, was placed on IR. Last year, the Saints offense was pretty solid under Jameis Winston, and they looked pretty solid again this preseason, albeit against iffy competition.
Positive script: With how bad the Falcons are projected to be, plus a positive game script for Kamara, we like him to hit pay dirt at least once this game and wouldn’t mind this bet parlayed with Saints ML for a plus-money play. As always, shop around for the best line.
The Week 1 Sunday slate isn’t great for parlays, as there are only 2 games with a total over 50. But as a man of the people, I’ll share one nonetheless.
• Nick Chubb anytime TD
• David Njoku over 35.5 receiving yards
• Amari Cooper under 49.5 receiving yards
• Baker Mayfield over 8.5 rushing yards
We like Nick Chubb to cash in on a run inside the 5 at some point this game behind a pretty solid line. Jacoby Brissett likes to target his tight ends at a higher rate than most other quarterbacks do, so I like the Njoku play. We also don’t think Cooper sees much success against a pretty solid Panthers secondary. Finally, we do want to play into the Baker Mayfield narrative and bet his rushing yards, but in addition to the motivation of playing the Browns, he’ll face good deal of pressure from Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, forcing Mayfield to step up in the pocket and use his legs to his advantage.
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