NFL Conference Championship Odds: Betting Props and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/20/2012
Ok, then, 0-for-6, on the “most” props on Bovada so far in these playoffs.
At least I know I can’t go against Drew Brees to throw for the most yards this week with the New Orleans Saints being shocked in San Francisco last weekend. On the most rushing yards for the divisional round, I didn’t like the favored Ray Rice of the Ravens and at least that was wise. I chose the Niners’ Frank Gore, and he had a very solid game against the Saints with 89 yards on the ground. That was the second-most of the weekend. Surprisingly, the Texans’ Arian Foster was able to put up 132 yards against that stout Baltimore defense.
And on the receiving prop, it was one of those times where I wanted to appear different. I really wanted to pick the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks for the second week in a row. But, nah, I wanted to go off the wall and take a longer shot, Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson. He was a non-factor in the loss to the Giants. The only thing that makes me feel better is that while Nicks blew up with 165 yards and two scores, he didn’t win the prop: 49ers tight end Vernon Davis did with 180. If you saw that coming, well, tell me which stocks you also own. Davis wasn’t even a betting option on these NFL odds. Needless to say, he is this week.
There is only one “offensive” team left among the NFL’s Final Four and that’s the Patriots. Thus, New England QB Tom Brady is the -110 favorite to win the most passing yards prop on conference championship weekend. But he goes against that excellent Ravens defense. In last season’s 23-20 home overtime win over Baltimore, Brady threw for 292 but he also threw two picks. In the teams’ last playoff meeting, a Baltimore 33-14 upset in New England in the 2009 season, Brady threw for just 154 and three picks. So I’m not taking him, even as good as he was last week against Denver.
I like the Giants’ Eli Manning at +125. Last week in my “disclaimer” about not taking Brees against the Niners, I did mention that he might win the prop because he would throw so often because San Francisco was so good against the run. And that’s exactly what happened, with Brees flinging it a whopping 63 times. Certainly Manning won’t throw it that much, but I do think the Niners also shut down that New York ground game – ranked last in the NFL during the season but better of late – and force Manning to throw plenty. He should top 300. His ‘over/under’ on Bovada is 300.5 so I would clearly take the over (-130 favorite).
On the rushing props, the Ravens’ Rice is again favored at -150. He was the biggest reason for the Baltimore playoff upset in New England two seasons ago with 159 yards rushing and two scores. In the 2010 regular season meeting, Rice had 88 yards on the ground. I have to take Rice here over the other betting options: the Niners’ Gore and Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. You can also bet on Rice’s over/under yards at 87.5 and I would go over (the -125 favorite). The Ravens will pound the ball down New England’s throat to keep Brady off the field.
On the receiving yardage prop, Nicks is the 7/2 favorite and he should be after putting up 280 yards and four scores combined in the first two playoff games while Giants leading receiver Victor Cruz has been relatively quiet. Three of the next four favorites on this prop are Patriots: Wes Welker and tight ends Rob Gronkowski (4/1) and Aaron Hernandez (7/1). I’m actually going to go with Cruz here at 5/1. I think the Niners’ game plan will be to blanket Nicks and, thus, potentially open up potential big plays with man coverage on Cruz. His over/under for yards is 82.5 and obviously I like the over (-130 favorite) there.
One last prop I want to address is a rather funny one: How many times will Peyton Manning’s name be mentioned during the Giants-49ers game – halftime doesn’t count. The over/under is 2.5. That’s stealing money: take the over. Obviously Manning’s name will come up not only because he’s Eli’s brother but also because of his uncertain future in the wake of the Colts firing coach Jim Caldwell this week (look for a props story on that here at Doc’s). One conversation between the announcers probably guarantees at least three mentions of Peyton’s name. Plus you have to figure he is at the game and, thus, gets at least a mention or two on that alone.
The real question is: How many mention of Rob Lowe’s name! Of course Lowe, who is friends with Colts owner Jim Irsay, Tweeted this week that Peyton Manning would retire.
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