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NFL bettor Jason Yamaguchi analyzes the first touchdown scorer market for Sunday's NFC title game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.
ANALYSIS

Eagles vs. 49ers Prediction: Hit the First Touchdown Scorer for the NFC Championship Game

With the Divisional Round in the rearview mirror, the NFL playoff field has been cut to four. Luckily, the four remaining teams — the Eagles, 49ers, Chiefs, and Bengals — have probably been the four best teams in the NFL this season, so we're in for an exciting and competitive finish to the year. In the NFC, the Eagles dispatched the Giants in a blowout last Saturday, while the 49ers outlasted the Cowboys by virtue of strong defense and a couple of timely plays on offense. Those two wins set up a fascinating matchup on Sunday between the clear-cut two best teams in the conference, a game that will be taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Eagles are currently 2.5-point favorites in this spot, which implies that these two teams have near-identical market power ratings (accounting for home-field advantage). The total is hovering around 46.5, a middle-of-the-road figure that makes sense for a game featuring two hot offenses balanced against two stout defenses. For this specific market — the first touchdown scorer market — it's worth considering how these teams might look out of the gate. I lean towards the Eagles getting off to a hotter start — the 49ers will be on the road in a hostile environment, and I'm not sure we can trust Brock Purdy to handle that immense pressure well immediately. On top of that, this season, Philadelphia has been one of the top first-quarter teams in offense, scoring the fourth-most first-quarter points per game. Using that framework to guide my pricing of each player's odds to score first, here are the two bets that I believe hold the most value.

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Eagles vs. 49ers Start Time and Where to Watch

  • Date: January 29, 2023
  • Game Time: 3:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: FOX

Eagles vs. 49ers Odds

  • Spread: Eagles -2.5 (-110), 49ers +2.5 (-110)
  • Total Odds: O/U 46.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline Odds: Eagles (-145), 49ers (+125)

Click here for Eagles vs. 49ers odds

Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers First Touchdown Scorer

First TD Scorer: A.J. Brown (+1000) Bet $100 to collect $1100. PointsBet has the best odds, click here

A.J. Brown's first year with the Eagles has been a resounding success — he recorded nearly 1500 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. While he had a quiet game last week against the Giants, catching just three passes for 22 yards, the relative strength of the 49ers' run defense suggests that he might be in for significant usage this Sunday.

In other words, the Eagles will likely throw at a much higher rate this week because their run game will not see the level of success that it did against the Giants' abysmal run defense. With the Eagles looking to get off to a hot start in front of their home crowd, I expect them to attack the 49ers' secondary early and often. As such, Brown is a strong candidate to get into the end zone first — this is worth a play down to +800.

First TD Scorer: DeVonta Smith (+1100) Bet $100 to collect $1200. FanDuel has the best odds, click here

Like Brown, DeVonta Smith has enjoyed a career year, recording career highs (albeit as a sophomore) in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns. His stellar route-running ability should serve him well against the 49ers, who, again, are a bit more vulnerable on the back end than most realize. With this bet combined with the one above, we're essentially banking on a basket of two players — both of the Eagles' primary pass catchers — to score first. I'm less interested in adding Eagles TE Dallas Goedert to the mix because the Niners are excellent against tight ends — San Francisco has allowed the fifth-fewest touchdowns to the position this year. With both Brown and Smith at 10-1 or higher, however, I think it's worth taking both in the hopes that the Eagles get the ball first, drive down the field, and open the scoring with a pass to one of their elite weapons.

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Article Author

NHLNFLMLB

Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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