Top NFL Passing Props To Bet: Week 1
Jared Goff, Under 1.5 Passing TDs (-215) (DraftKings)
From a 1,000-foot view, the Lions are outmatched all around in this matchup. It is a consensus belief that the 49ers defense will be a significantly better unit than the Lions offense. Zooming in closer on specific parts of this matchup only makes things more concerning for the side of Jared Goff and the Lions.
For one, Goff himself is not a great quarterback. Goff has done plenty to establish himself as a competent player with valuable peaks in the right environment, but he is not the type to take over games himself, neither through the air nor the ground. Suffice to say, this Detroit squad is not the right environment for Goff to shine. Sean McVay ain’t walking through that door.
The Lions may boast the worst receiver group in the league. Tyrell Williams is far and away the team’s best receiver. While Williams is a good NFL receiver, he has never really been more than a second or third option on the offense. Carrying the burden is not something he’s proven to do yet. The rest of the group is littered with players who have only worked as limited role players, including speedster Kalif Raymond (formerly of the Titans) and possession-guy Quintez Cephus. Tight end TJ Hockenson is a threat, too, but the 49ers boast the NFL’s best coverage linebacker in Fred Warner, so Goff will need some help from the guys out wide.
On paper, Goff’s saving grace would be the offensive line. Rookie tackle Penei Sewell has not looked so hot, but the rest of the unit is firmly average to above-average and should serve Goff well over the course of the year. Unfortunately for them, San Francisco boasts an absolute wrecking crew up front, led by defensive end Nick Bosa. Goff is going to be under relentless pressure and he does not have the athletic tools to escape very often, though he does have some fearlessness to him inside the pocket. Still, it’s a tough day for Detroit when their best offensive unit is still clearly outclassed.
The last little bit here is that Goff is not someone who wants to play from behind and be forced into dropback concepts and away from play-action. Assuming the San Francisco offense finds a decent groove against Detroit’s defense, Goff could be forced into those situations sooner rather than later.
Matt Ryan, Over 1.5 Passing TDs (-185) (DraftKings)
Everyone forgot how good Matt Ryan is. Granted, nobody is going to blame anyone else for tuning out of Falcons games over the past couple years, but Ryan still looked great on film. The dip in production from “great” to “above-average” was less about Ryan himself or any of the pass-catching talent, but how stale Dirk Koetter’s offensive play-calling had been for the past two seasons.
With an ascending offensive mind in Arthur Smith replacing Koetter and shifting the offense closer to what it looked like during the Kyle Shanahan era, Ryan should get back to producing at a higher clip. Losing a franchise icon like Julio Jones out wide may hurt a bit, but Calvin Ridley is capable of stepping up as a true No.1. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts also replaces some of the dynamism that Jones brought from an athletic standpoint.
The area for pause may be Atlanta’s offensive line versus Philly’s defensive line. Though the Eagles may not have a legit superstar edge player, they have a strong two-deep that can stay fresh and keep up the pressure. That said, Smith’s offense in Tennessee last year held the 11th-best adjusted sack rate (per Football Outsiders) in part because of how well Smith constructed the play-action passing game to keep plenty of blockers in. Those kinds of concepts are absolutely something Ryan can and will deliver on with good timing, so that may negate some of what the Eagles can bring up front.
Tua Tagovailoa, Over 0.5 INTs (-120) (DraftKings)
Let’s take Tua Tagovailoa out of the equation for a second.
Being a division opponent on the road in New England is just about the worst situation any quarterback can get thrown into to open the new season. Bill Belichick’s defense was not as fierce as usual last year, to be fair, but the return of linebacker Dont'a Hightower is a game-changer. He is their best and most valuable defender, and a coach-on-the-field type. The additions of EDGE Matt Judon and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, as well as the assumed development of last year’s draft picks EDGE Josh Uche and safety Kyler Dugger, also bode well for a return to the top of the NFL’s defensive hierarchy.
That loaded Patriots front also gets to face a poor Dolphins offensive line. Miami’s left tackle spot is a mess right now, most notably. Starter Austin Jackson is likely to miss Week 1, but he might be the league’s worst left tackle anyway, so getting him in the lineup would not save anything. The rest of the line is a blend of youngsters who the organization is hoping can transition from “intriguing prospects” to “bonafide starters.” Pressure is going to be a constant in this match.
Now let’s bring Tagovailoa back in.
This is not an indictment of his overall quality of play moving forward, but Tagovailoa looked a bit up and down trying to find his comfort zone with aggression this preseason. That’s probably to be expected. Tagovailoa dealt with a lot fewer contested windows at Alabama than most other quarterbacks would, which might be why he turned into a Checkdown Charlie as a rookie. Preseason only means so much, but Tagovailoa looks like he is trying to let loose more this year and it may just take some time for that to gel.
Assuming Tagovailoa continues to show some of that aggression as he did in the preseason, it is not a stretch to assume the Patriots defense will snag one from him.