The NFL season kicks off this week and the prop betting market has given us a few early opportunities to cash in. Here are three quarterback matchups to take advantage of in Week 1.
WHY YOU SHOULD BET THE OVER FOR MAC JONES COMPLETIONS IN WEEK 1
- Important matchup
- Elite pass accuracy
- More familiar Patriots offense
Mac Jones will take the field for his NFL regular season debut on Sunday in Miami. It’s easy to think that New England will gameplan to take the pressure off their rookie QB, but in a crucial divisional matchup, the training wheels will need to come off early.
- 19.5 completions on DraftKings (-110)
This number currently puts Jones at one of the lowest completion totals on the board, an amount that is very achievable for this precision passer.
Before becoming the 15th-pick in the NFL Draft this spring, Jones set the FBS single-season completion percentage record by connecting on 77% of his passes. In addition, Jones also set the highest mark for On-Target Throw Percentage (85%) that Sports Info Solutions has charted in its five seasons of data collection.
His record-setting efficiency was in part due to his conservative 8.3 yard average throw depth. Continuing down that path early in his NFL career seems like a strong possibility, and one that should translate to plenty of short completions.
The low completion total set by Vegas is likely subject to the image of the Patriots run-first offense still lingering from last season. With the changing of the guard from Cam Newton, the New England offense is clear to return to some of its old, more balanced ways of the Tom Brady Era.
New England Patriots Neutral Pass Rate
|SEASON||NEUTRAL PASS RATE||RANK|
Neutral Pass Rate refers to passes when the Patriots and their opponents were within 6 points
In a 130-play sample of snaps without Newton on the field last season, the Patriots’ pass rate rose from a league-low 50% to 59%.
Even somewhere in between those two rates, combined with the young QBs accuracy, Jones should only need 30 pass attempts to get across the completions mark.
WHY YOU SHOULD BET UNDER THE LONGEST PASS COMPLETION FOR BEN ROETHLISBERGER IN WEEK 1
- Short passing focus
- Defense hard to beat deep
- Recent matchup indicator
Pittsburgh vs Buffalo is one of the marquee Week 1 matchups with two AFC title contenders looking to state their early dominance. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will need to play to their strengths in order to pull out a tough road victory.
- 36.5 yard longest pass completion on DraftKings (-120)
The 39-year-old Roethlisberger has overcome plenty of injuries to get here, and now the savvy veteran has reinvented himself toward the tail-end of a decorated career. At just 2.3 seconds from snap-to-throw, Roethlisberger held the ball shorter on average than any other QB in the league last season (per Sports Info Solutions tracking data). For Big Ben, 477-of-608 attempts (78%) came with either a 0/1 or 3 step drop, which registered a modest 7.2-yard average throw depth.
Quickest Average Snap-to-Throw Time (among Returning Starters)
|PLAYER||AVG SNAP-TO-THROW (SEC)|
Despite the third-most completions in the NFL last season, Roethlisberger landed t-16th on the leaderboard with just 18 deep ball completions (20+ air yards).
All of these decisions were made to help compensate for one of the league’s worst offensive lines. The Steelers also went out and drafted Najee Harris in the first round to bolster the team’s dysfunctional running attack.
Bettors should pair these factors with Pittsburgh’s Week 1 opponent, Buffalo, who funneled its opponents underneath at the highest rate last season – just 7% of attempts traveled 20+ air yards.
The cherry on top of this matchup: When these two opponents faced off in Week 14 last season, Roethlisberger attempted just three deep balls and completed a long pass of 20 yards.
WHY YOU SHOULD BET THE OVER FOR JALEN HURTS PASSING + RUSHING YARDS IN WEEK 1
- Road underdogs
- Falcons weak secondary
- Hurts’s dual-threat ability
The Eagles head to Atlanta as road underdogs in a game with one of Sunday’s highest projected point totals. A matchup with the porous Falcons secondary makes Jalen Hurts a lock to rack up yards in the air and on the ground.
- 267.5 passing + rushing yards on DraftKings (-115)
This offseason, Atlanta failed to upgrade a secondary that ranked near the bottom in several key categories including Completion Percentage, Passer Rating Against, and Yards per Cover Snap.
Falcons Pass Defense Ranks (2020)
|QB Rating Against||102.9||27th|
|Yards per Cover Snap||7.1||28th|
Beyond those troubling stats, Atlanta’s secondary allowed a league-most 10 games of 300+ passing yards to its opponents last season. Opposing QBs also found success on the ground, averaging 8.8 yards per rush (second-highest).
Jalen Hurts was given three full games as Eagles starter after the club pulled the plug on Carson Wentz in Week 13. From that point on, Hurts led all QBs in rushing yards with 136, and posted passing + rushing game totals of 217, 371, and 371 in those three contests.
Philadelphia showed confidence to let Hurts run the offense aggressively. With Hurts on the field after becoming the starter, the Eagles dropped back on 63% of their offensive snaps.
The factors on the other side of the ball should also dictate a high-speed cadence, as Atlanta ranked seventh last season with a 65% neutral pass rate, and Philadelphia registered one of the league’s stingiest run defenses.