NFL Week 17 Player Props and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 12/29/2011
It has been a pretty successful regular season in terms of betting Bovada NFL props, although several will be resolved this week as many weekly free NFL predictions were yearly totals.
One I will be heavily rooting for this week, for example: Tom Brady to throw four touchdown passes against Buffalo to reach 40 (I recommended he would reach that number). There are numerous others.
Week 16 saw us cash in on a big prop if you followed my advice: Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch scored on a four-yard touchdown run against the 49ers. That was the only rushing TD allowed by San Francisco all season – there was a prop on whether it would (I said ‘yes,’ although I thought it would be the week before against Pittsburgh).
I will certainly be addressing some props during the playoffs, but let’s get right to Week 17, with every game on Sunday this week to be fair for potential playoff matchups (i.e. no one gets extra time off or short rest).
I like the prop “How many coaches will be fired between Jan. 1 and the first playoff game”? The day after the regular season is called “Black Monday” because that’s usually the day when most coaches get the heave-ho.
It is expected to be a very active firing season, with Miami, Jacksonville and Kansas City getting a head start on the rest of the league. Bovada lists the ‘over/under’ on firings in that timeframe at three. It also has a separate ‘yes-only’ prop on whether the Giants’ Tom Coughlin or Cowboys’ Jason Garrett is fired before the first playoff game (3/2). Of course, New York and Dallas meet Sunday night, with the winner taking the NFC East and the loser out of the playoffs (check out my preview on that here at Doc’s).
Here are the coaches I think who are on the hot seat: Vikings’ Leslie Frazier, Bucs’ Raheem Morris, Rams’ Steve Spagnuolo, Colts’ Jim Caldwell and Chargers’ Norv Turner. To a lesser extent, you could probably throw the Bills’ Chan Gailey and Eagles’ Andy Reid in there.
I think the ‘over’ three coaches fired in that timeframe is a lock, and it is the -140 favorite. Frazier, Spagnuolo and Turner are gone, and I’m fairly certain Morris is. If the Colts lose Sunday to Jacksonville, I think they start fresh with a new coach to help groom Andrew Luck (Caldwell and Peyton Manning are tight). And if the Giants lose to Dallas, Coughlin will get the boot – I think the Giants win, but I’d probably still take a flier on the Coughlin/Garrett prop even though Garrett is reportedly safe. The urgency for teams to fire a coach so quickly is to reach out to one of those big-name guys – Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher to name a few – before another team gets its claws in one.
The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year race is over, with Panthers QB Cam Newton sure to win it after setting the NFL record for rushing scores by a quarterback. In most years, the Bengals’ Andy Dalton would be the winner as he has led Cincy to the precipice of a rare playoff spot and has completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 3,166 yards and 20 TDs – Newton also has thrown for 20 scores.
A prop offered is on which player ends the season with more TD passes: Newton (7/5), Dalton (8/5) or tie (7/4). Even though Newton could steal TD passes from himself by rushing for a score, I think he has to be the choice because Newton faces a Saints defense that is rather porous at times, while Dalton has to go against Baltimore’s excellent defense (and deal with the weather). When Newton faced the Saints earlier this season he had two TD passes. When Dalton faced the Ravens he threw for 373 yards but just one TD (and three picks).
Finally, let’s look at what I believe is my first-ever prop on a kicker. Your NFL scoring champion is going to be 49ers kicker David Akers, who has 156 points on 42 field goals (that’s already an NFL record) and 30 extra points. The record for most points in a season is actually 186 by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 when he set the NFL record for total TDs with 31. The record for a kicker is 164 by Minnesota’s Gary Anderson in 1998.
Whether Akers breaks Anderson’s mark is ‘yes’ at even money and ‘no’ at 10/13. You have to go ‘yes’ here. The Niners play a terrible Rams defense (in the weatherproof dome) and still have reason to win as they are competing with New Orleans for the NFC’s No. 2 seed. And knowing Jim Harbaugh, he would have no problem with getting Akers the record even if San Francisco is way ahead (i.e. attempting a field goal late as opposed to downing the ball). Akers averages 10.4 points per game and had 14 the last time San Francisco played St. Louis.
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