NFL betting: Picking touchdown scorers for the divisional round
Over the last few seasons, betting on touchdown scorers in NFL games has really taken off. Prop betting can be maddening as there are so many variables. Your player could fall one yard short of hitting his over. With a touchdown scorer bet, you just need your guy to find the end zone. Nothing else matters. The odds can also be pretty good depending on who you select. The odds are boosted even further if you dabble in the first touchdown scorer or last touchdown scorer market.
While touchdowns can be random, most teams have a solid concentration of weapons that they use. Sometimes an offensive lineman scores a touchdown, but often it's the same group of guys scoring most frequently. Let's take a look at this weekend's slate and which players could be worth a bet in the touchdown market.
Bengals vs. Titans
The Cincinnati Bengals get 1.4 touchdowns per game from their wide receivers while Tennessee is allowing 1.2 touchdowns per game to opposing receivers. It’s safe to project Cincinnati's offense will flow through its receivers.
Tennessee is allowing just 0.8 rushing touchdowns against per game and five of those 14 rushing scores have been to opposing quarterbacks. Joe Burrow has two rushing touchdowns on the year but he’s not known for his running.
Tennessee does not allow tight ends or running backs to score at a high rate, The Bengals don't designate much of their passing offense to the tight end. Burrow loves his receivers, and Tennessee is most vulnerable to that position as well. Any of Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd is a fine play but Chase sticks out for his TD prowess this season. I’d take both Chase at +110 and Higgins at +190. I expect at least one of them to score, which would make a profitable endeavor, with a good chance at both hitting.
I would look away from both running backs. We mentioned Tennessee’s ability to keep running backs out of the end zone, so I’m not laying juice with Mixon at -125. Derrick Henry is expected to return and he’s -185 to score an anytime touchdown. Will he find the end zone? There's certainly a good chance, but I’m not paying that price on a guy who might have a limited workload and hasn't played in months.
Instead, I’d look for Ryan Tannehill to find the end zone at +260. Tannehill had seven rushing touchdowns on the season. Only Jalen Hurts had more at the quarterback position. Tannehill outscored Kyler Murray, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson on the season. With the presence of Henry near the goal line, the read-option pull is very much alive for the Titans quarterback.
Tennessee also has nine of 23 receiving touchdowns this season from the tight end position. With Henry back, the goal line play action is very much in play. Anthony Firkser is +450 and Geoff Swaim is +550 to score at anytime. If I'm picking one, I’d go Firkser, because he scored in each of Tennessee’s final two regular season games.
49ers vs. Packers
It’s not always a bad thing to roll with the chalk. The two biggest favorites to score in this game are Davante Adams and Deebo Samuel, and I’m rolling with both.
Green Bay scores 2.3 receiving touchdowns per game, getting 1.6 touchdowns a game from the wide receiver position. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling out, it’s now Adams, Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. Adams has always been the alpha here. He has 11 touchdowns in his last 14 games. Included in that is a Jordan Love start and the half-game he played in the finale against Detroit. In five games against San Francisco, Adams has posted 123.6 yards on average and has five touchdowns. This season, the 49ers are allowing 1.4 receiving touchdowns per game and one touchdown per game to the WR position. I have no issue laying -125 on Adams to score in this game.
Deebo Samuel is +100 to score on Saturday night, and I’ll take the even-money shot with him as well. Samuel does it all for the San Francisco offense, capable of breaking a big play in the passing game while also filling in as a running back in the red zone often over the past few weeks. He scored a rushing touchdown last week. He has scored in eight of his last nine games.
Rams vs. Buccaneers
This is a doozie of a matchup.
On the offensive side for Tampa Bay, it’s hard to ignore the Rams' ability to keep wide receivers out of the end zone. They’re giving up less than a touchdown per game through the air and just 0.5 touchdowns per game to wide receivers. When these teams played earlier in the season, the Buccaneers scored on a QB sneak, a wide receiver rush and a passing touchdown to a running back.
Mike Evans might feel like a safe play, but I’m wary here. Jalen Ramsey will make it hard. Rob Gronkowski at -105 might be the better play due to LA’s success against opposing wide receivers.
Los Angeles is more vulnerable against the running attack, but Tampa Bay’s situation is certainly murky. Leonard Fournette will likely be back. Does he resume as a clear lead back like he was prior to his injury? Did Ke’Shawn Vaughn earn more of a role with his recent performance? Does Gio Bernard see the field in a third-down role?
The Bucs have six receiving touchdowns to running backs this season, including one against the Rams earlier in the season. Gio Bernard scored last week and has seen the field often in passing downs and in the red zone when healthy. The question becomes whether that role continues with Fournette back. Are you willing to take a +185 shot to find out on Bernard?
On the other side of this matchup, the Rams offense is almost purely through the air. Forty-three of their 56 touchdowns so far this year have been through the air. This takes advantage of the Buccaneers' weaker area, as Tampa Bay has allowed 27 of 41 total touchdowns to be scored through the air.
Cooper Kupp is the first look, and I don’t hate it at -140. Kupp scored twice against Tampa Bay earlier in the season and has had a monster season that came close to breaking records. It’s also hard to ignore the recent touchdown prowess of Odell Beckham Jr. He has touchdowns in six of his last eight games with the Rams. He’s +175 to score and it’s hard to pass that up.
With Tampa Bay’s strength being keeping running backs out of the end zone and L.A. not relying much on rushing touchdowns, it’s hard to back Sony Michel or Cam Akers. Just five of L.A.’s 43 touchdown passes have been to the tight end position, so I’d probably pass on Tyler Higbee as well.
Bills vs. Chiefs
The grand-daddy of them all. The total for the Bills vs. Chiefs is at 53.5, far and away the highest total on the board so we can expect touchdowns here despite the fact that Buffalo has the best defense remaining in terms of touchdowns allowed. Buffalo is scoring 3.6 touchdowns per game this season while Kansas City is finding the end zone 3.5 times per game. A back-and-forth affair is almost certain here.
On Buffalo’s offense, the Bills are scoring 2.3 touchdowns per the game through the air. Kansas City is also more vulnerable through the air than on the ground. You can get both of Buffalo’s best offensive weapons at plus-money to score in this game.
Stefon Diggs might not have been as good in 2021 as he was in 2020, but he has 10 touchdowns on the season. We saw what Ja’Marr Chase did to these Kansas City defensive backs late in the regular season. Diggs is +140 to score and I’m certainly adding that to my bet slip.
I’m also backing Dawson Knox, who seems to have developed into a favorite red zone target for Josh Allen. He scored twice last week and had nine touchdowns in the regular season. Knox is +150 to score at anytime.
Kansas City allowed 15 rushing touchdowns in the regular season, and seven of those were to quarterbacks. Drew Lock rushed for two touchdowns against this defense in Week 18. I’d rather back Josh Allen at +150 to score than Devin Singletary at +100. Kansas City allowed just 0.4 touchdowns per game to running backs.
On the other side, the matchup is fascinating. Buffalo has allowed just 0.8 touchdowns per game through the air, but Kansas City is scoring 2.4 touchdowns through the air on average. Buffalo is much more vulnerable on the ground, allowing 1.1 touchdowns per game on the ground. However, Kansas City is scoring less than one rushing touchdown per game.
There’s also the question of who plays running back for the Chiefs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is practicing in full, but does he get his job back from Jerrick McKinnon, who has shown serious juice over the past two games? Both are +130 to score, which suggests that the oddsmakers don’t know either.
When looking at the Chiefs, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill automatically come to mind. You can’t hate backing either one, even though their odds aren’t the greatest. Hill is -105 and Kelce is +105. Gun to my head, I’d pick Kelce.
Buffalo has allowed five rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this season, which makes Mahomes to score at +400 an intriguing dart throw. We know he’s capable of it and he might be more willing to scramble and take a hit in such a big game.
With the shootout potential of this game, it’s worth taking a look at some of the players with a bit longer odds as well. Byron Pringle found the end zone twice last week and he’s +275 to score this weekend. Gabriel Davis scored last week for Buffalo, he’s +250 to find the end zone.