Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens NFL First Touchdown: Expert Picks & Predictions for AFC Championship (1/28/24)
Get Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens NFL First Touchdown odds and picks for their (1/28/24) matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens First Touchdown Search Tool
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens First Touchdown Picks
The No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens host the No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday (1/28/24) at 3:00 p.m. ET. This article analyzes the first touchdown odds for this Chiefs vs. Ravens showdown and recommends betting on Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson, and Rashee Rice.
The first touchdown prop bet is just like an anytime touchdown prop bet, but the goal here is to identify which player will score the first touchdown of the game. It generally offers very good odds, but that is because it can be a very difficult bet to get right. Typically you want to pick a few different players in the same game to spread out your exposure, as long as one winning bet still pays enough to turn a profit on all the bets combined.
You can also bet on the first player from either team to score a touchdown, the first player to score a touchdown in each half, or the last player to score a touchdown. But in this article, we are focused on the first touchdown scorer. Here are our favorite picks to score the first touchdown in this Chiefs vs. Ravens conference championship game.
Gus Edwards First Touchdown Scorer (+750 at BetMGM)
Let’s start with our favorite pick for an anytime touchdown in this game, and therefore also for the first touchdown, which is Ravens RB Gus Edwards. It’s a bit surprising that Edwards has just the 4th or 5th lowest odds to score an anytime touchdown, depending on the sportsbook. At DraftKings and FanDuel, his current odds are +130 and +135, respectively, and he is behind Lamar Jackson, Travis Kelce and Isiah Pacheco. At BetMGM, he is also behind Rashee Rice.
The main reason that’s surprising is that Edwards has scored 13 touchdowns this season, which is the 7th most in the league and more than any other player in this game. (The next closest is Pacheco with 9, then Rice with 7, then multiple players with 5 or 6.) Edwards also has a great matchup in this game, as Kansas City’s defense finished the regular season at 27th in DVOA and 28th in EPA against the run, and they were dead last in ESPN’s run stop win rate. The Bills gashed them for 173 rushing yards on 37 carries (4.67 per carry) last week.
If (probably when) the Ravens get into the red zone, and particularly inside the five-yard line, the most likely outcome is that Edwards is going to punch it in. He scored 12 of his 13 touchdowns from inside the five and led the Ravens with 23 carries in those situations, which was 58.9% of the team’s total touches at the goal line. Overall his 39 touches in the red zone represented a team-high 21.3% usage rate inside the 20.
The Ravens are far more likely to run it when they get into the red zone than they are to throw it. They ran the ball 61.7% of the time inside the 20 (113 rushes out of 183 red zone snaps) and 76.1% of the time inside the five (35 out of 46). They had the 7th best red zone offense this season, converting on 61.8% of their opportunities, and they were 2nd in the league with 42 red zone touchdowns. They scored more than half of those TDs (23) on the ground.
Our biggest hesitation with this pick is that while the Chiefs can struggle against the run, especially runs up the middle where Edwards thrives, they were also one of the best red zone defenses and allowed just 10 rushing touchdowns all season (tied for 4th fewest). They allowed red zone touchdowns on exactly 50% of opponents’ opportunities, good for 8th best in the league. That said, it’s not like they are going to completely shut down the Ravens’ offense, and Edwards remains the most likely player to cross the goal line.
By starting with a bet of one unit on Edwards, we can bet up to six units on other players with better odds. If the Edwards bet hits at +750, then we guarantee a small profit, so this bet also provides a bit of a hedge on all the other players on whom we could bet. Of course, there is no guarantee we pick the right player, even when spreading out our bets to multiple picks, so we have to be willing to lose up to seven units if we follow this strategy (unless of course you bet less than one unit on each player).
Lamar Jackson First Touchdown Scorer (+600 at BetMGM)
For many of the same reasons, let’s add Ravens QB Lamar Jackson to our portfolio of first TD scorer bets.
Jackson had the second-most red zone touchdowns on the Ravens this season (5), and he added two more scores on the ground last week against the Texans. He was also second on the team with 32 rushing attempts in the red zone, and the combination of Edwards and Jackson represented 38.7% of the Ravens’ total red zone touches (and 62.8% of their rushing attempts).
Since the +600 odds on this bet are lower than Edwards, this pick changes our strategy slightly, because we can only bet a maximum of 6x the size of our Jackson bet to guarantee at least breaking even. It’s worth it to get some action on Jackson here.
The Ravens have -152 odds to score first in this game, which implies a 60.3% probability. Of course that doesn’t need to be a touchdown, but if they are that likely to score first according to the odds, then we want more action on Ravens players for a first TD bet, and we feel very good about Edwards and Jackson as our top two picks here.
Rashee Rice First Touchdown Scorer (+1000 at FanDuel)
Now let’s move over to the Chiefs’ side of this matchup, where we are focused on their pass catchers. They scored 28 of their 37 touchdowns this season (75.7%) through the air, and the Ravens allowed the fewest rushing TDs (6) of any team this season. Of course they also allowed the second-fewest passing TDs (18) as they were the league’s most dominant defense all season, but they are still far more likely to give up a score through the air than on the ground.
Of all the Chiefs’ pass catchers, our favorite pick is rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice. The chalk pick would of course be Travis Kelce, who caught two touchdowns last week and has 18 career touchdowns in the playoffs, the 2nd most all-time behind Jerry Rice. But Kelce will be matched up primarily with Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton, the first-team All-Pro and arguably the best safety in the league, who will make Kelce’s life exceedingly difficult in this game.
Rice led the Chiefs in touchdown receptions (7) and red zone targets (22), which represented a 22.4% target share. Still, based more on reputation than recent production, Kelce has lower odds than Rice for both an anytime TD and the first TD. He has become Mahomes’ go-to target, and will have a better matchup against the Ravens’ CBs than Kelce will have against their safeties and LBs. As incredible as Kelce is, Rice is the better value for a TD bet.
We are going to stick with these three picks for a first TD, but it’s also worth noting that our favorite longshot pick is Chiefs TE Noah Gray. With Kelce demanding all the attention, Gray is a sneaky pick that could pay off. The Chiefs had multiple tight ends on the field on a season-high 57% of snaps last week, and Gray had season highs in both route participation (52%) and targets per route run (23%). That expanded role makes him a solid value at +5000 odds.