Best expert NFL player prop bets for Week 1's early 1pm games: Return of the Mac

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Prop Holliday - Bobby Stanley


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Week 1 NFL Sunday kicks off with 9 games in the 1:00 pm ET slate and offers a ton of possibilities from a player prop perspective. I will try my best to narrow down my best 3-5 plays every week, but it may vary from week to week. Admittedly, I tend to offer more overs in my articles, but that is partially due to the time of year. Early on, lines open lower than we will see later in the season as we build a solid data set for players. Many players are on new teams, in new roles, and play in new schemes, so my plays may incorporate assumptions on my part. I thank you for the trust early on and as the season continues, it will be backed by recent statistics.

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Check out our NFL picks for EVERY Week 1 game

Mac Jones over 30.5 passing attempts (-120) 

There was a lot of speculation surrounding the New England Patriots offense this offseason and it stems from the departure of Josh McDaniels. Bill Belichick did little to stifle the attention when he intentionally did not name an offensive coordinator this season. Both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge will split play-calling duties.

QB Mac Jones enters his second year after a promising rookie season; leading the Pats to a 10-7 record and a wild-card appearance. He threw for 3,801 yards and 22 TDs, but the most impressive stat from Jones was that he registered a 67% completion percentage. This was good for 8th-overall in the NFL and the highest from a rookie in the league.

Jones averaged 31 pass attempts per game and that includes a Week 13 blizzard in Buffalo where he only attempted 3 passes. If we remove that outlier, his pass attempts per game go up to 32.3. On the season, he hit 30 passing attempts in 12/17 (70%) games. I understand that to hit this bet Jones needs 31, but my expectation is they rely heavily on Jones in the passing game in Year 2.

Looking at their opponent, Miami did little to improve their defense personnel-wise this offseason (instead focusing on offense), but in 2021 they were 23rd in the league in opponent pass attempts per game (35.8). The hype around Miami’s offense is at an all-time high and if this turns into a track meet, Jones will have plenty of pass attempts to his name. As an added kicker, Jones had 30 and 39 pass attempts in 2 games against Miami last season.

We have NFL team previews for all 32 teams! Check ’em out

David Njoku over 31.5 receiving yards (-120)

This one is straightforward: Jacoby Brissett has targeted tight ends in 29% of his pass attempts through his NFL career. Last season for the Dolphins, Mike Gesicki averaged 8 targets per game with Brissett under center. Austin Hooper has departed this offseason and Njoku is the clear-cut TE1 in Cleveland. This number is very close to Njoku’s 2021 season average of 29.7 ypg and is disregarding his new status on the depth chart, along with Brissett’s affinity for tight ends. If you’re looking for a 2-unit play this weekend, this is it.

Nick Chubb over 72.5 rushing yards (-115) 

Browns running back Nick Chubb averaged 89.9 rushing yards per game in 2021, but Deshaun Watson being sidelined for the first 11 games changes the way HC Kevin Stefanski will call plays. I believe he is primed for his breakout season at nearly 27 years old and Kareem Hunt pushing the issue to be traded in training camp. Chubb hit this line in 9/14 (64%) starts last season and 5/7 on the road.

The Panthers at home allowed the 5th-most rush attempts per game in 2021 (29.8) and the 9th-most rushing yards per game at home (126). Outside of the standard rush defense stats, the Panthers allowed almost 8 rushing first downs per game (7.6) at home, which was the 4th-worst in the league. The Browns’ success will be predicated on clock management and playing stout defense. I expect Chubb to make a major leap this year into Jonathan Taylor territory so this may be the last time we see his rushing line under 80!

Be sure to check out our full Cleveland Browns vs Carolina Panthers predictions

Rodrigo Blankenship over 1.5 total field goals made (+108)

Kick props present a lot of plus-money value, but you must do some hunting. Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship only played 5 games in 2021 but hit this line in 4/5 (80%). The new-look Colts will have Matt Ryan under center this Sunday and I expect there to be mild growing pains. Ryan should be able to move the ball up and down the field with ease (thanks to some help from Jonathan Taylor), but red zone efficiency will take some time. The Texans allowed the 5th-most red zone scoring attempts per game last season, which bodes well for the Blankenship. Lastly, when targeting a kicker prop, it always helps to keep it indoors!

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