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In what is predicted to be a low-scoring end to Week 16 of the NFL season, we have a complete unknown at quarterback for the Saints and a surging Dolphins' offense against two defenses that are among the best in the league right now.

New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins First Touchdown Scorer Picks: Great Value On Alvin Kamara With Betfred

As we wrap up Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season, a wild week defined by COVID absences will end with the Saints starting a fourth-round rookie quarterback (Ian Book) who has never taken an NFL snap. The Dolphins somehow have avoided the COVID chaos this week and come in mostly healthy. Miami will likely miss Albert Wilson in this one which could open opportunities for other receivers.

With both teams entering this game with identical 7-7 records, the postseason implications for each are massive, with the loser facing a giant hill to climb to reach the playoffs. What is likely not going to be massive are the point totals tonight. When Taysom Hill was ruled out, the total plummeted to 37.5 points, lowest of the week. So how will those few points be scored, and more specifically, who will score those rare touchdowns? Here are a couple of places where I’m placing my bets for the first touchdown scorer.


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Saints and Dolphins Trends ahead of Week 16 Several key trends leading into this game can help guide our decision-making:

  • The Dolphins average 26 points per game in their last five and have won six games in a row. In that stretch, their opponents average 13 points per game.
  • In their first eight games the Dolphins were 1-7 and averaged 17.25 points per game. Their opponents averaged 24.75 points in that span.
  • Miami's defense allows the fewest yards per game to their opponents over the last three weeks (225.3 yards per game). Their 139.7 passing yards allowed per game over that time is better than any other team by at least 16 yards.
  • New Orleans has not scored a passing touchdown since the fourth quarter of their game on December 2nd.
  • Both teams rank top-six in run play percentage over the last three weeks (Miami 50.5%, New Orleans 51.3%).
  • Both teams average under 210 yards per passing over the last three weeks.
  • New Orleans leads the NFL in fewest touchdowns scored by their opponents per trip to the red zone (43.6%).

Dolphins vs. Saints First Touchdown Scorer Picks

Alvin Kamara (+500)

Just because it's the shortest odds doesn't make it a bad bet at all, especially considering the Saints' tendencies up against the Dolphins' recent pass defense. With Ian Book under center, you have to think Sean Payton and company are not going to ask him to air it out 35-40 times in this one, which means it will be the Kamara and Mark Ingram show most of the night.

The Dolphins have also been stingy against the run in their last three games (85.7 yards allowed), but they faced the Jets (Tevin Coleman was the leading rusher), Giants (Saquon Barkley hobbled) and Panthers (no Christian McCaffrey) in those games. Alvin Kamara is a different beast than they have recently faced.

In the previous three games, the presence of Taysom Hill would have made this a shakier bet. He rushed for two touchdowns in their last three games. Book did rush 116 times in 12 games for nine scores in his senior year at Notre Dame, but I can't see how the Saints would risk Book in a huge pile at the goal line considering the only other option available to them is Blake Bortles who has been on the team for three days.

Duke Johnson (+1000)

In just two games with the team, we have already seen the Dolphins give Johnson six red-zone rush attempts which he converted into two touchdowns. In 14 games, Myles Gaskin has 32 red-zone attempts, just three scores, and a lower yards per carry than Duke Johnson.

After Week 15's explosion (127 total yards and two touchdowns), the Dolphins clearly trust their new running back, and have what they always wanted: a true three-man running back committee. Salvon Ahmed seems to be the third-man in line, so running with Duke's +1000 odds gives you a decent amount more value than Gaskin does tonight (+800).

Johnson also adds the dimension of being able to reliably convert in the passing game. For his career, Johnson averages 9.3 yards per catch and a 77% catch rate. He has 12 receiving scores as well. Tua Tagovailoa has the number one accuracy rating this season, according to Player Profiler, but has just the 33rd-most air yards per attempt. He is looking to throw it short when he passes, which gives Duke Johnson a nice bump.

Two Longshot Bets

No Touchdown Scorer (+5000) - Over the past three weeks, we have seen both of these defenses hold an opponents without a touchdown (Saints vs. Tampa Bay in Week 15, Dolphins vs. Giants in Week 13). Considering the state of these two defenses (both top ten in yards allowed the past three games), and the home team starting a practice squad quarterback, no touchdowns is at least on the table.

Mack Hollins (+3600) - The two Dolphins with the most red-zone targets this season are understandably Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki. But third on the list isn't Davante Parker or Myles Gaskin or Albert Wilson - it's Mack Hollins. He has converted his eight red zone looks into three touchdowns (trailing only Waddle) and ranks 44th among all wide receivers in targets in that part of the field.

Article Author


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.

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