Super Bowl Picks: No. 1 Receiver Props
by Matt Severance - 01/24/2009
One of the most important factors of the Super Bowl will be the wide receivers. Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh's Hines Ward are the main go-to guys. It's probably not a stretch to state that the winning team will probably have a big day come from their top receiving threat.
It also happens that these guys are pals. They became so when Fitzgerald was starring at Pitt and Ward would attend some of his games. They even texted each other last Sunday when both clinched Super Bowl berths.
"He's very excited to be on the biggest stage in the Super Bowl," Ward said to reporters of Fitzgerald. "Hopefully we can contain him and not let him go wild."
Wild is exactly what Fitzgerald has gone this postseason, having already set an NFL playoff record with 419 receiving yards. He has gone over 100 yards in each of Arizona's three postseason games (and the final two regular-season games) and has had at least a TD catch in each (three against the Eagles in the NFC title game). Thus it's not a huge surprise that other than the two quarterbacks, Fitzgerald is the BetUS odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl MVP award at +500.
Ward, meanwhile, sprained an MCL in the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore, but he will certainly start despite being listed as "questionable" and not practicing at all this week.
"I don't plan on missing this game, trust me," Ward said this week. "Don't worry about the knee."
Remember that Ward was the MVP of Super Bowl XL when he had five catches for 123 yards and a TD (that TD reception coming not from Ben Roethlisberger but from Antwaan Randle El). He is +1500 on BetUS to repeat the feat.
As for some individual prop bets, Fitzgerald's over/under totals on BetUS are 95 ½ receiving yards and 6 ½ receptions. Both probably seem like easy over bets, but the Steelers are No. 1 against the pass and have allowed just two 100-yard receivers since Week 4 (sorry, no stats on 95 1/2-yard receivers!). And while the over 6 ½ receptions seems like cake, and I would take it, Fitzgerald did not exceed that number in the final three games of the regular season and first game of the playoffs. He also has guys like Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston to steal touches.
As for Ward, his over/under numbers on BetUS are five catches and 68 ½ yards. He is pretty money in the postseason, becoming the second Steeler to go over 1,000 yards receiving in the playoffs. Thus the 'over five' catches seems like a good probability - he had three against the Ravens in barely more than a quarter before he was hurt. Pittsburgh will get him some short throws and receiver screens, and Ward clearly is Ben Roethlisberger's guy.
But will Ward's knee be healed enough - it generally takes a player three weeks to recover from a sprained MCL - for him to get more than 68 yards? I might say no, despite the fact he had exceeded that number in every game since Week 14 before his injury last week.
Also for what it's worth MVP-wise, Ward could become the first non-quarterback to win the award twice.