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Matthew Stafford Monday Night Football Player Prop Picks at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have not had a hot start to the year, but both their offense and defense could be poised to take a major leap at any time, especially as we learn more about the health of Joe Burrow. We’ll see how they come out on Monday, and how Stafford responds.
Matthew Stafford over 247.5 Passing Yards (-114 FanDuel)
Normally, for a passing yards prop, it’s helpful to take a look at some of the past performances by quarterbacks against a team, but I would caution you against taking that approach for this one. So far, the Bengals have played just two teams, starting with the Browns, a game that not only was played under terrible conditions, but also included Deshaun Watson, who has been absolutely terrible, and an elite ground game for the Browns to lean on. Then they faced the Ravens, another team with a unique offense; Lamar Jackson is not a helpful data point when we’re evaluating Matt Stafford.
What we can do is look at what Stafford himself has done thus far. He’s cracked 300 yards in each game, which is likely to be a trend with a Rams team that will be trailing or at least in tight games very often this season. Even with Burrow potentially out or limited, that’s not too likely to change this week. The Bengals have the 7th worst per-dropback EPA allowed, and they’re outside of the top 20 in PFF’s grades for both coverage and pass rush. Simply put, the pass defense has had a rough start to the year, even without going up against any particularly pass-heavy offenses.
The Rams offense is decidedly pass-heavy, as they lack a true lead rusher and the team overall has not yet run for 100 yards in a game, instead relying on Stafford. I don’t necessarily expect him to average over 300 air yards per outing and throw for over 5,000, but the number of 247.5 we’re seeing is a very low one. As long as the Rams aren’t able to truly run away with this one in the early going, which does not seem likely even against a diminished Bengals offense with the state of the LA defense, Stafford should have plenty of opportunities to target brand-new superstar Puka Nacua and blow way past this number.
Matthew Stafford Longest Pass Completion o35.5 yards (-120 BetMGM)
If there’s one thing we know about Matt Stafford after 14 years in this league, it’s that the guy has a big arm and can go deep. After a seemingly injury-riddled 2021, he’s back to what he does best with the eighth highest average depth of target (aDOT) in the NFL in the early going this year. He isn’t just throwing it far, he’s doing it well; he has the fifth-best PFF grade on passes 20+ yards downfield, he’s tossed eight such balls which have resulted in five big time throws and one turnover worthy play. The other good news is that unlike other passers near Stafford on the deep ball efficiency list, he’s on a team that will actually make sure to use him in a way that maximizes his strengths.
While the Rams aren’t as loaded as in years past, Stafford surely has the weapons to go deep. Van Jefferson is ninth in the league in aDOT, while Tutu Atwell has racked up 15.1 yards per catch, and breakout star Puka Nacua is over 10 as well in that category. Stafford didn’t crack this number against the Niners, but again, that’s not really a fair bar, as that defense is simply not normal, especially compared to Cincy. He was on the ball on opening day, with completions of 44 and 30 yards against Seattle. This Bengals team has also struggled to limit the big play, with their opponents racking up 33 yards through Elijah Moore and 52 on a strike to Zay Flowers. With Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell gone, the Bengals are missing two huge pieces of the success they’ve had in recent years, and any team that has to replace a safety duo like that would struggle in preventing long completions.
Matthew Stafford o23.5 Passes Completed (-115 BetMGM)
Stafford has eclipsed this number each week, as he completed 24 against the Seahawks and 34 on a whopping 55 attempts against the Niners. The impressive thing is that he’s done so with some astronomically bad luck going against him; he’s ahead of the pack with seven drops from his receivers so far, with three passers in second place with five drops.
This isn’t an elite Rams receiving corps, but they should definitely improve from a drop rate of around 10%. If they can get that up to even a league-average zone, Stafford’s completion percentage would leap into the mid to even high 60s, and with the attempts he should get in Sean McVay’s offense, that would be more than enough to secure this over.