Wild Card Weekend first touchdown scorer targets and final regular season thoughts

By Stephanie Kamerschak  (VSiN.com) 

January 11, 2023 05:33 PM

1st TD scorer picks for the Wild Card Weekend

Jamaal Williams…I am sorry! I may have spoken too soon last week when I crowned Ezekiel Elliott the King of First Touchdowns, because it looks like the Lions stud RB took that personally. Williams (+700 at DraftKings) decided to score first against the Packers on Sunday night, something he hadn’t done since Week 13. The TD upped his season totals to six game-firsts (most in the NFL) and seven team-firsts. 

Not only did he get back in the first-TD mix, Williams added another score later in the game to break Barry Sanders’ franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a season. So, Jamaal, please accept my apology. And for what it’s worth, I had a ticket on you! Thank you for the wins all season long. I’m heartbroken we don’t get to keep betting on Jamaal Williams in the playoffs.

I’d like to give out a few more thank yous before looking at all of the Wild Card matchups…


  • The Browns: They finished as the NFL’s best team in this category, scoring the game’s first touchdown in 13 of their 17 games. I cashed a number of times betting on Cleveland based on my system of betting on the more successful first-TD team. Nick Chubb was their MVP, finding the end zone first in four games this year.
  • The Chargers: Over the back half of the season: After starting the season with just three first touchdowns through eight games, Los Angeles has now scored first in six straight, and eight of their last nine. They’re automatic at this point.
  • Ezekiel Elliott: He led the league this year in scoring first for his team, doing it eight times, five of which were the game’s first. Zeke was always a short-shot, but worth the risk.
  • The Colts: Indy was SO bad at scoring first this year, it was easy to target players on their opponent’s side. The Colts only managed to score first in four games this entire season, which is the worst total in the league. Not only that, their offense was so pitiful, there were four games this season in which they didn’t find the end zone at all!
  • The Jets: Over the back half of the season: New York ended the season without scoring a touchdown, at any point, in three straight games. This upped their season total of end zone-free games to FIVE this season! They only scored first one time in their last nine games. It was beyond easy to bet a few guys on the opponent’s side each week.

Now, let’s look forward. Will the postseason be a whole new animal? We’ll find out, but my system of betting on the more successful first-touchdown team worked well in the regular season. Only five of last week’s matchups saw upsets. So, I’m going to stick with it. Check out the tracker to see who each team likes the most.

Here’s this week’s Wild Card matchups with their success rates:

Seahawks (7/17) at 49ers (11/17) - Saturday, 4:30 PM ET

Seattle has only scored a touchdown first in one of their last six games so I’ve gotta lean on the 49ers side here. San Francisco has been mixing it up early lately so I probably need to pick three players. I’ll look at George Kittle who scored first when they played in Week 15, Brandon Aiyuk who leads the way for the Niners with five team-firsts, and I’ll throw a little on the San Fran D/ST since Geno Smith has seven interceptions in his last seven games.

Chargers (11/17) at Jaguars (8/17) - Saturday, 8:15 PM ET

I’m all-in on Los Angeles in this one since they’ve found the end zone in six straight games. If Mike Williams is out, Keenan Allen will draw more focus from the Jaguars defense. So, I’m going to take shots with Joshua Palmer and Gerald Everett who will have more attractive odds than Allen. But, I’ll also have the short-shot in Austin Ekeler, who has scored first for LA five times this season.

Dolphins (6/17) at Bills (8/17) - Sunday, 1 PM ET

Skylar Thompson has just one touchdown pass this season and Miami was kept from scoring any touchdowns last week, which makes it super easy to stick with the Bills in this one. I’ll be on Josh Allen who has three rushing TDs in his last six games, and Gabe Davis who has scored first for Buffalo four times this season despite having just seven touchdowns on the season. Also, I’ll have a little on the Bills D/ST since they’re so successful on kickoff returns right now.

Giants (7/17) at Vikings (11/17) - Sunday, 4:30 PM ET

This one’s a little trickier for me. Both teams haven’t been very successful in the first-TD market over the back portion of the season. I think I’ll have two tickets on both teams. For the fully-rested G-Men, I’ll take Daniel Jones who had two rushing TDs in Week 17, and Saquon Barkley, who has scored in 10 of his 16 games this season. And for the Vikings, I’ll go with Dalvin Cook who’s a threat in both the rushing and passing games, and K.J. Osborn, who has three touchdowns in his last five games.

Ravens (12/17) at Bengals (10/17) - Sunday, 8:15 PM ET

While the Ravens are slightly better than the Bengals in this market, I don’t trust Baltimore this week with the question marks surrounding the QB position and with how hot Cincinnati is at scoring first. The Bengals have found the end zone first in seven of their last nine, including last week’s matchup with the Ravens. I’ll roll with Joe Burrow, who ran one in for Cincy in their first matchup, and Ja’Marr Chase who had 12+ targets in both of the regular season games. Plus, if either Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown starts at QB for Baltimore, I’ll be on the Bengals D/ST as well.

Cowboys (11/17) at Buccaneers (7/17) - Monday, 8:15 PM ET

Yes, the Cowboys didn’t find the end zone in their Week 1 matchup with the Bucs, but that was so long ago, I have to throw out that data. Since then, Ezekiel Elliott has become a first-touchdown machine. He has eight team-firsts and five game-firsts this season. I will double up on Zeke and I’ll take Tony Pollard as insurance.

So, just because it’s Wild Card weekend, let’s hope the first touchdown market doesn’t get TOO wild and we can count on some of our trusty scorers. Happy playoffs!

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