NFL prop betting: Is Baker Mayfield ready to bake on Sunday?

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Week 4 of the NFL season is upon us, and we have another intriguing slate of games on tap. Which performances are anomalies and which performances are predictive? That's the hard part for us to decide with a growing, but still small sample size at our disposal. Below are three of my favorite prop bets for Sunday. All lines are courtesy of BetMGM

Baker Mayfield

Passing Yards: Over/Under 249.5

Whether he's on your fantasy team or you're betting Baker Mayfield through the prop market, he can be maddening. The talent is obvious and his efficiency metrics are borderline elite. However, the issue with Mayfield is often his volume. In a league where teams are throwing the ball over 35 times per game on average, the Browns are averaging just 26.7 passing attempts per game. 

Cleveland has won its last two games comfortably, which allowed it to lean on the run to close out the game. Additionally, when you have the best running back duo in the league, it makes sense to run the football. 

With that being said, I'm quickly gaining trust in Kevin Stefanski as one of the coaches who does the right thing way more often than not. He's aggressive and goes for it when he should. He's a good play-caller and he's a big believer in analytics when setting up a game plan. For that reason, I'm expecting the Browns to rely on Mayfield's arm way more on Sunday than they have over the past two weeks. 

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 26: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns makes a pass during a game between the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a pass against the Chicago Bears in Week 3. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Mayfield is currently fifth in the league in completion percentage at 73.8%. He's also fourth in yards per attempt at 8.8 yards per passing play. On the other side, the Vikings defense allows quarterbacks to complete 75.8% of their passes, which is the worst mark in the league. They are allowing opponents to gain 9.2 yards per pass, which ranks 30th. The first three quarterbacks Minnesota has faced this season have combined for 959 yards. All three went over 249.5 yards. 

Oddsmakers are projecting this is a close, high-scoring game where offenses will likely be exchanging scores. It doesn't feel like the type of game where the Browns will be able to pound the rock. I expect Mayfield's volume to increase in this game. Couple his efficiency with the Vikings' struggle against the pass, and I think Mayfield goes over 249.5 passing yards on Sunday. 

Calvin Ridley

Receptions: Over/Under 6.5

The Atlanta Falcons offense is ugly. Matt Ryan clearly looks to be on the downside of his career. The running back duo of Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson is about as ugly on the field as it looks on paper. For some reason, outside of Week 2, the Falcons are barely using their mismatch nightmare tight end Kyle Pitts. 

The one constant in this Atlanta offense is Calvin Ridley. Russell Gage has missed most of the last two games due to injury, meaning Atlanta's second and third receivers are Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe. Ridley has taken advantage, posting 15 receptions on 21 targets over the last two weeks. He's averaging just 8.8 yards per reception, which is why we're targeting his reception prop rather than his yardage prop. 

Washington's defense entered the year with a lot of hype, but it's failed to deliver. It ranks bottom-10 in sack rate, and the secondary has been picked apart. It's allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 70% of their passes while ranking bottom-five in pass yards allowed. 

With Gage out again, I expect Ridley to be peppered with targets on Sunday. This Washington secondary isn't scaring me off this prop in its current form. I like Ridley to go over 6.5 receptions as a one-man show in this Atlanta offense. 

Patrick Mahomes

Touchdown Passes: Over/Under 2.5

All week, I've had a feeling that Sunday's game is a one where the Chiefs make a statement. They are 1-2 and could very well be 0-3. We saw Dak Prescott pick the Eagles' secondary apart on Monday, throwing for three touchdowns. The Eagles defense was impressive the first two weeks, but in hindsight, we might have been giving them too much praise for doing well against Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo. 

Mahomes has thrown three touchdowns in all three games this season, and I expect that to continue in Week 4. As a manager of Clyde Edwards-Helaire in fantasy, I know how tough rushing touchdowns are to come by from him. He scored his first touchdown of the year last week, but of course, it was a receiving score. 

There's not much here in terms of the analytics, outside of the fact that Mahomes is out of this world and I expect the Chiefs to bounce back nicely in this spot. Call it a "gut decision" but I'm going with Mahomes over 2.5 passing touchdowns on Sunday. 

Stats from Football Outsiders and Team Rankings.

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