NFL first touchdown scorer: What we learned in Week 14 and targets for Week 15

By Stephanie Kamerschak  (VSiN.com) 

December 13, 2022 05:52 PM
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Which teams and players should I bet for first touchdown scorer in Week 15?

Have you ever seen that viral video of the two kids going absolutely nuts when they open up a Nintendo 64 on a perfect 1990s Christmas morning? (If not, check it out, it’s hilarious.) Well, that was me this past Sunday when my phone lit up with a notification: “TOUCHDOWN: J. Williams - Lions 7, Vikings 0.” I thought my guy, Lions running back Jamaal Willliams, had done it again and scored his sixth first TD of the season! Alas, I quickly turned into a kid who got new underwear from grandma, as my trusty VSiN Final Countdown host, Stormy Buonantony, informed me that it wasn’t Jamaal Williams, it was Jameson Williams, the rookie wide receiver who snagged his first career touchdown.

But, that’s how this market goes. There’s a ton of luck involved in predicting first touchdowns. I managed to come out profitable despite only winning one of these bets this past week. Not a great ratio (1/7), but, more importantly, my theory was proven correct. So, I’m going to stick to the plan: find game mismatches based on which teams score first most often and which teams don’t. Of last week’s 13 games, eight teams with better first TD records scored the game’s first TD, three didn’t and two games featured both teams with identical 6/12 records. We’ll look at Week 15 mismatches in a moment. (Or you can take a look at the updated tracker I put together if you want to see what each team has been up to.)

I also noticed some trends about a handful of teams. First, the Patriots continue to find the end zone with people we aren’t expecting, which is why I went with “any other Patriots player" (+800) against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. New England’s first TD has been scored by NINE different players in their 13 games this season. Thankfully, my book didn’t have rookie RB Kevin Harris (4 total yards on the season entering the game) as an option, so I cashed this one. “Any other” might be the way to go with this Pats squad.

In a similar vein, the Ravens are extremely good at scoring first, but are also doing it with a variety of players. They’ve found the end zone first 10 times this season, which is tied with the Browns for most in the league. But the problem is that no player on the team has scored first more than twice! Devin Duvernay, Mark Andrews, J.K. Dobbins, Kenyan Drake and Gus Edwards all have two each. So, despite their success rate in this market, they just aren’t bettable for me this week as they take on the equally super-successful Browns.

The hottest team in the NFL at scoring first RIGHT NOW? The Dallas Cowboys. They have scored the game’s first touchdown in seven straight and nine of their 13 games this season. Tony Pollard (+600 at DraftKings) got his first of the season against the Texans on Sunday, keeping their trend of RBs scoring first going strong. Dallas has succeeded first with Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott six times this season. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Here’s the update on the best teams at scoring first:

  • Browns 10/13
  • Ravens 10/13
  • Cowboys 9/13
  • Lions 9/13
  • Vikings 9/13
  • Eagles 9/13
  • 49ers 9/13
  • Titans 9/13

And here’s the worst teams:

  • Colts 3/13
  • Cardinals 4/13
  • Packers 4/13
  • Texans 4/13
  • Raiders 4/13
  • Bears 5/13
  • Broncos 5/13
  • Dolphins 5/13
  • Saints 5/13
  • Giants 5/13
  • Steelers 5/13
  • Buccaneers 5/13

So, let’s see where the mismatches for Week 15 are and how we can attack this slate:

Colts (3/13) at Vikings (9/13) - Saturday, 1 PM ET

This is by far the most lopsided matchup of the week. Justin Jefferson (4) and Dalvin Cook (3) lead the way for the Vikings’ first scores. All of Jefferson’s have been the first of the game, and Cook’s done it twice. They’ll certainly be short-shots, but I’ll have tickets on both this week.

Lions (9/13) at Jets (6/13) - Sunday, 1 PM ET

Dance with the one who brung you, right? No reason to abandon Jamaal Willliams, who is the league leader in first TDs of the game with five, and prior to last week had three in a row for Detroit. It’s too bad we can’t just bet on guys named Jam- Williams, because we’d have two ways to win with him and Jameson.

Chiefs (7/13) at Texans (4/13) - Sunday, 1 PM ET

This is less about the Chiefs and more about the Texans. Their best scorer, Dameon Pierce (four first TDs this season), will be out with an ankle injury and who even knows what they’re doing at QB at this point. I’ll look at Jerick McKinnon who scored first for Kansas City in two straight games, and Travis Kelce who has six of their first TDs, three of which were the first of the game.

Eagles (9/13) at Bears (5/13) - Sunday, 1 PM ET

Even though Philly has been mixing it up early as of late - five different players scored first for them in each of their last five games - Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders are my picks here since the Bears run defense is one of the worst in the league. If you feel compelled to take a Bear, it’s gotta be Justin Fields who has scored first for Chicago five times, three of which were the first of the game.

Cowboys (9/13) at Jaguars (6/13) - Sunday, 1 PM ET

Like I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys RBs have the most success in this market and Dallas is red-hot at scoring first (seven straight games). I’ll take both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

Here’s all of Week 15’s matchups with their first TD success rates:

See updated NFL odds and NFL betting splits.

So, let’s place our bets, cross our fingers and hopefully open up some Nintendo 64s in Week 15!

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