Week 1: Redzone Best Bets

The wait is finally over, Sunday evenings are packed with NFL action once again and hopefully we can make them profitable for you here at The Touchdown. Week 1 is always a tricky betting proposition, there are roster changes aplenty and last year’s bottom feeders have their high value rookies and new coaches bringing hope for a brighter 2021.

This column will be bringing you a Double and a Player Props Treble every Sunday. 

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The Double:

£20 PAYS £74.40

Credit: Getty Images

Vikings (-3) @ Bengals:

There’s not much love for the Vikings coming from the NFL pundits this offseason following a 7-9 season where they fell apart defensively, ranking 29th in points per game (29.7) after only giving away 18.9 points per game in 2019. There were excuses for this collapse as 2019 first team all-pro Danielle Hunter failed to play a single snap alongside the useful Michael Pierce who also missed 2020. Both should return here to give the Vikings a significant boost on the front end.

The bolstered Vikings front line does not bode well for 2020’s number one pick Joe Burrow as he looks to go to work behind a Bengals offensive line which still looks suspect after an awful 2020 season. Burrow returns from a season ending knee injury and there was worrying talk in the offseason, even from Burrow himself that there is still some doubt around that area. Burrow has some fun receiving weapons around him and if it all clicks they could have some fun offensively this season but it remains to be seen whether A. This offensive line can offer any sort of protection and B. Whether Burrow is 100% ready to go following his knee issue.

The Vikings face similar woes on the offensive line but those frailties look unlikely to be exposed by a poor Bengals defensive front. The 2020 Bengals registered the least sacks of any team in the NFL, and running backs also had their way with them as they gave up 148 yards rushing yards per game, 29th in the NFL. The offseason addition of Trey Hendrickson doesn’t look enough to inspire the Bengals front and Dalvin Cook will see this as an ideal opportunity to get his bid for the rushing title off to a flyer after only Derrick Henry rushed for more yards in 2020. Cook isn’t the only problem for Cincinatti with Minnesota’s receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson rating as one of the best in the league, the quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t too shabby either despite many pundits being seemingly down on him this season.

Take the Vikings -3, they simply have too much for this Bengals defense and with likely improvement coming on defense they should be able to keep a still transitioning Cincinatti offense relatively quiet.

Credit: Thearon W. Henderson (Getty Images)

Titans (-3) vs Cardinals

It feels like a make-or-break season for the Cardinals after their 2020 campaign came off the rails following the spectacular ‘Hail Murray’ victory over the Bills in week 10. Arizona limped home with a 2-5 run to finish the season 8-8.

The ‘Hail Murray’ play pretty much sums up the Cardinals main strength as well as their main weakness on offense. Simply, that they are far too reliant on quarterback Kyler Murray and their star receiver De’Andre Hopkins.  The Cardinals acquired A.J. Green in the offseason in an attempt to address this, but the 7-time pro bowler looked a shadow of his former self last season and it would be a reach to assume the 33-year-old can return to anything like his previous best. They face a revamped Titans defense which looks to improve on a wretched 2020 season, their acquisitions though look shrewd and although they won’t be one of the league’s best defenses they look to have enough to be a middle of the road unit.

The key to this game lies in Arizona’s secondary, or rather lack of one. Malcolm Butler was set to be the main man at cornerback but he suddenly retired last week and leaves the Cardinals looking seriously vulnerable. Robert Alford hasn’t seen an NFL snap since 2018 and looks set to feature heavily as well as rookie Marco Wilson, selected in the 4th round. It’s difficult to envisage this unit having much success against a receiving corps which boasts Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, not to mention the unstoppable force that is Derrick Henry at running back.

Sometimes it pays not to overcomplicate things, this is a straight up mismatch when Ryan Tannehill looks downfield, and Tennessee have the league’s best running back when they decide to attack on the ground. Take the Titans -3.

player props treble:

£20 PAYS £74.40

Credit: Tim Heitman (USA Today Sports)

Laviska Shenault Jr. Over 49.5 Receiving Yards (Jaguars @ Texans)

Probably the worst team in the NFL got even weaker with the loss of cornerback Bradley Roby. This is the perfect opportunity for number one pick Trevor Lawrence to hit the ground running, Shenault Jr. had a solid rookie season in 2020 amassing 600 yards, he’ll be looking to build on that and should surpass the 49.5  yard line here with the help of a generational talent under centre.

Brandon Aiyuk Over 49.5 Receiving Yards (49ers @ Lions)

Another second season receiver looking to break out in 2021, Aiyuk went for 115, 91, 75, 95, 119 and 73 yards before a quiet performance against the Cardinals on Boxing Day. Detroit gave up 284.9 yards per game through the air in 2020 (30th in the NFL) and even significant improvement from 2020’s number three pick Jeffrey Okudah at corner won’t be enough to make this defense serviceable. This line looks too low and providing he sees some targets Aiyuk should go beyond it.

Joe Mixon Under 65.5 Rushing Yards (Vikings @ Bengals)

As mentioned above Minnesota’s defense should see an improvement this year and return to something like the solid 2019 unit. I expect the Vikings to get out in front and force the Bengals to go through the air with Burrow, meaning not a lot of carries for Mixon. Even if he gets the carries it’s hard to make a case for this O-Line creating the holes for him to rush through.

Michael Norbury