NFL first touchdown scorer targets and new year’s resolutions

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Which teams and players should I bet for first touchdown scorer in Week 17?

The system is back, baby! All season, I have been betting the first touchdown market and targeting players on one team based on which team is better at scoring first. Week 15 was super funky with several “bad” first-touchdown teams scoring first, and 11 new players scoring first for their squads. Thankfully, in Week 16, we saw a return to form. Of the 12 games that featured mismatches, the better team at scoring first did so in eight of them. The system helped me cash two of my eight tickets this week: Derrick Henry (+320) and Austin Ekeler (+500). Short-shots, but definitely enough to have a profitable week. With New Year’s right around the corner, let’s see who needs to stay the course and who should get on those resolutions ASAP.

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Don’t change a thing!

  • The Browns: Cleveland continues to be the best team in the NFL in this market, scoring a touchdown first in 12 of 15 games this year, and eight of their last nine. They’ve even managed to cash first-TD tickets in back-to-back games, despite only finding the end zone one time against both Baltimore and New Orleans. They got it done this past week with Deshaun Watson (+2000). I don’t want them to do anything differently.
  • The Chargers: LA scored first again this past week and have now done it in six of their last seven games. Most recently with Austin Ekeler (+500), who was the only player to find the end zone in the game against the Colts. Apparently, it does rain (money) in Southern California.
  • The 49ers: San Francisco found Ray-Ray McCloud III (+3000) for their fifth first touchdown in their last six games. They’re tied for the second-best team in this market with 11 of 15 firsts on the season. I don’t care who the QB is, just keep scoring early and often!

New year, new you!

  • Cardinals RB James Conner: He’s scored first for the Cardinals in three straight games now (+750 last week against the Buccaneers), upping his total to six this year. The problem though is Arizona has only scored the first touchdown in five games all season, and Conner accounts for just two of those. If you can bet on the first player to score for the Cardinals, instead of a player in the game, look Conner’s way. But I need the Cards to get him in the end zone earlier!
  • Lions RB Jamaal Williams: Where did you go, Jamaal?! He was the first-touchdown savior, scoring first in the game five times through the first 13 weeks of the season. But over the last three weeks, he’s been kept out of the end zone completely. The good news is his lack of scoring lately could give books a reason to lengthen his odds. Get back in there, Jamaal!
  • The Ravens: Yet again, they scored first with a new player this week. This time it was WR Demarcus Robinson (+1800) who found the end zone early against the Falcons. Their first trip to the end zone has been via seven different players over their last eight games. And, in that eighth game, they didn’t score a touchdown at all. The only play for them is to bet on the TEAM to score first, or look at the tracker, pick a guy they haven’t gone to first yet and hold your breath. They’re one of the best teams in this market, scoring the game’s first TD in 11 of 15 games, but I haven’t been able to bet on them all year. Be consistent! 
  • The Raiders: After starting with only three first touchdowns in their first nine games, they’ve done it in three in a row. Most recently with Hunter Renfrow (+2200). Go back to being bad, Las Vegas. You’re messing up our system!

Here are some of this week’s games that stand out to me based on first-touchdown success rate mismatches:

  • Browns (12/15) at Commanders (6/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
    • Nick Chubb says he’s going to play in these final two essentially meaningless games for the Browns. He started the season finding the end zone first for Cleveland in four of their first eight games but hasn’t done it since. He’s due to get back in there. I’ll also look at Deshaun Watson who scored the Browns’ only TD last week. 
  • Saints (6/15) at Eagles (10/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
    • Before he went down with a shoulder injury, the Eagles’ top first-touchdown scorer was Jalen Hurts who had six for the team, three of which were the first of the game. He’s not playing in this one but, as we saw last week against the Cowboys, Philly’s gameplan didn’t change a ton with Gardner Minshew at the helm, who had four carries and a rushing TD. I’ll take him and Miles Sanders.
  • 49ers (11/15) at Raiders (6/15) – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
    • The Raiders are making a change at QB this week and going with Jarrett Stidham over Derek Carr, giving me even more reason to love the 49ers in this one. I’ll have a bet on George Kittle who has four TDs in their last two games, and Christian McCaffrey who hasn’t scored first for San Francisco yet.

And here are all of Week 17’s matchups:

  • Cowboys (10/15) at Titans (10/15) – Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Panthers (8/15) at Buccaneers (6/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Browns (12/15) at Commanders (6/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Saints (6/15) at Eagles (10/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Cardinals (5/15) at Falcons (6/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Jaguars (7/15) at Texans (5/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Bears (7/15) at Lions (10/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Dolphins (6/15) at Patriots (7/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Broncos (6/15) at Chiefs (8/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • Colts (4/15) at Giants (6/15) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET 
  • Jets (6/15) at Seahawks (6/15) – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
  • 49ers (11/15) at Raiders (6/15) – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Vikings (10/15) at Packers (5/15) – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Rams (8/15) at Chargers (9/15) – Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Steelers (6/15) at Ravens (11/15) – Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
  • Bills (8/15) at Bengals (8/15) – Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET

So, let’s place some bets and hope our strategy pays off in 2023. Happy new year!