Parlay bets are a fun way to build your bankroll fast. However, the extra rewards come with extra risk — if you aren’t careful, parlays will burn through your bankroll faster than you can break even.
Fortunately, DraftKings offers users a $25 risk-free bet on NFL same-game parlays. So with nothing to lose (and bankroll to gain), how should you attack Thursday night’s action? For starters, expect to see me feature quite a few overs in this column. Since 2017, the over has hit in 60% of games played on Thursday; in 2020, it hit 57.1% of the time. I suspect that’s due to a lack of adequate rest and preparation, both of which make life hard for defensive players.
I advise that you approach this column as a strong parlay that features a handful of smart straight bets. I’ll include recommended unit sizes for each play, along with a recommended parlay size. NOTE: DraftKings Sportsbook’s same-game parlay feature uses lines that are not available as single-wager markets.
Parlay YTD: 2-3-0 (+0.66u)
Straight Bets YTD: 5-3-0 (-0.28u)
All NFL Bets YTD: 19-16-0 (-0.5u)
Leg #1. Quez Watkins o44.5 Receiving Yards
Related Straight Bet: Quez Watkins o41.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Straight Bet Size: 1u
Yes, I’m teasing Quez Watkins’ receiving yards prop up for Thursday’s action. I have a few reasons why, but they boil down to two key points. First, Tampa Bay boasts an elite rushing defense, and that (plus the game script — the Buccaneers are 6.5-point favorites) will cause Jalen Hurts to pass more frequently. Second, Dallas Goedert probably won’t be available, which will force the Eagles out of their 12-personnel packages and give Quez Watkins plenty of opportunities from the slot. And even if Goedert can suit up, Watkins’ snaps have been increasing at an intriguing rate.
Let’s start by breaking down Watkins. He played on 82% of Philadelphia’s offensive snaps last week, the second-most among all skill-position players. He has spent 64.4% of his snaps in the slot, which is all the more impressive because Philadelphia often uses their tight ends at that spot. Dallas Goedert has played 31% of his snaps from the slot, and Zach Ertz has done so on 39.4% of his. Should Goedert miss time, it’s easy to see how Watkins’ volume could increase.
Watkins also has the best matchup of Philadelphia’s three wide receivers. He’ll face slot cornerback Ross Cockrell, who is allowing a passer rating of 112.2 when targeted. This matchup goes beyond Cockrell’s inefficiency, however. Watkins ran a blazing-fast 4.37-second 40-yard dash and clocked in at 21.62 miles per hour on a 91-yard catch back in Week 2. In contrast, Ross Cockrell ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. He also won’t have safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to bail him out over the top; the rookie will miss Thursday’s action with a concussion.
Leg #2. Jalen Hurts 30+ Passing Attempts
Related Straight Bet: N/A
Hurts has gone over this figure in four of his five starts this year and seven of his nine total starts. More importantly, every quarterback the Buccaneers have faced in 2021 has done the same, usually by at least 10. Starting quarterbacks average 44.2 passing attempts per game against Tampa Bay.
Quarterbacks have to throw so frequently because of Tampa Bay’s pass-funnel defense. Their defensive front ranks first in adjusted line yards. They have allowed just 229 rushing yards on the year, the fewest in the league by a 149-yard margin. For some perspective, that’s a wider gap than the one between the second-place Browns (378) and the 12th-place Bears (519).
If you’re concerned about Hurts busting this prop because of his rushing talent, don’t be. The Buccaneers have allowed the fewest rushing yards to quarterbacks (13) on the fewest attempts (9). They’re also giving up the third-most passing yards to the position. Why run when you can pass?
Leg #3. Buccaneers o20.5
Related Straight Bet: N/A
The Buccaneers have scored at least 21 points with Tom Brady starting in all but three of his 25 games. Those outlier performances came against the 2020 Chicago Bears, the 2020 New Orleans Saints, and the 2021 New England Patriots. Two were losses, and one was a near-loss. All three came against top-10 defenses in terms of defensive rating. The 2021 Philadelphia Eagles ranked 24 in the metric before their Week 5 game against the Panthers and now rank 11th.
I’m not worried about the Eagles’ defense. The Chiefs hung 42 points against them. The Cowboys posted 41. The Buccaneers should have no issue beating this number, which is why their unadjusted total sits a full 10 points higher at 30.5.
Total Odds: +165 at DraftKings
Parlay Bet Size: 1u
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