NFL Wild-Card Weekend 'Most' Player Props Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/5/2012
There’s a lot of team and player prop options, as you would expect, for the opening round of the NFL’s postseason this weekend. But let’s go with the “most” options on players available: most passing yards on wild-card weekend, most rushing yards and most receiving yards (numbers may vary some at various books that offer this prop).
If this week is a success, I will do this again next weekend; if not, I will try something else. But the weekly player props have generally been a success this season so far.
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Of course, the matchups this weekend are: Cincinnati at Houston, Detroit at New Orleans (both Saturday) and Atlanta at New York Giants and Pittsburgh at Denver (both Sunday). So let’s start with the most passing yards.
First off, don’t even bother with the four AFC quarterbacks this week in Andy Dalton, T.J. Yates, Ben Roethlisberger and Tim Tebow. That’s two rookies, a gimpy Big Ben and arguably the worst passing QB in NFL playoff history, respectively.
The favorite on this prop is a no-brainer in the Saints’ Drew Brees at even money. How can you bet against Brees, considering he set the NFL single-season yardage record and the game is in the Superdome, where the Saints were 8-0 this season and averaged 41.1 points and nearly 493 yards per game? Brees goes against a Lions defense that finished No. 22 in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game at 239.4. But that unit got worse as the season progressed. Brees threw for 342 back on Dec. 4 against the Lions, and Detroit just allowed a shocking 480 yards in the air to Packers backup Matt Flynn in Week 17. You have to mark Brees down probably for at least 340 here.
Eli Manning (+400) is very capable of winning this prop, but he has to deal with the elements at the Meadowlands, although it actually won’t be too bad for weather. The Falcons allowed 236.6 passing yards per game.
However, I think you have to go with the Lions’ Matthew Stafford at +200. Stafford hasn’t thrown for less than 373 in his past three games and had 520 in Week 17 at Green Bay. Plus, Detroit can’t run the ball and likely will have to play catch-up with the Saints, meaning plenty of throwing.
On the rushing prop, the Falcons’ Michael Turner and Broncos’ Willis McGahee are co-+275 favorites. Turner is the leading rusher of any running back playing this weekend (second in all the playoffs to Baltimore’s Ray Rice) with 1,340 during the regular season. He faces a Giants defense that was No. 19 against the run, allowing 121.3 ypg.
Turner is a solid play but not great value. I don’t like McGahee because the Steelers are still excellent against the run and they might play 11 in the box because they know Tebow can’t beat them throwing the ball. I also don’t much like the Texans’ Arian Foster (+500) because the Bengals will dare Yates to beat them and Foster still splits carries with Ben Tate.
I am going to go with Pittsburgh’s Isaac Redman at +500. Of course, he is the featured back now with Rashard Mendenhall lost for the season with a knee injury. At times this season, Redman looked like the better back. And last week when he got 19 carries, he had 92 yards rushing. That Denver defense has fallen way off of late and the Steelers will want to try and keep the gimpy Big Ben as safe as possible – that could mean a lot of runs.
Finally, on the receiving prop the favorite is a no-brainer in NFL receiving yardage leader Calvin Johnson of the Lions at +250. His 1,681 yards this season are the most by any receiver since Torry Holt had 1,696 in 2003. Megatron has gone over 200 yards receiving in two of the past three games, capped by 244 in Week 17 against Green Bay. I love Johnson, but I think there’s simply no way the Saints aren’t double-teaming him all over the field. He was held to six catches for 69 yards in the first meeting with New Orleans.
My pick is the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks at +600. Why him over teammate Victor Cruz, who had better numbers? Well, Cruz is a second-favorite at +375 to have the most receiving yards (along with Atlanta’s Roddy White), but he draws Atlanta’s top cover guy in Dunta Robinson. Thus, that should benefit Nicks (who will be opposite a solid Brent Grimes), who looked back to health in Week 17 with five catches for 76 yards.
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