Super Bowl Props Betting: Rushing and Running Back Props Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 1/30/2012
The running backs are a bit of an afterthought when you think about Super Bowl XLVI. Neither the Giants nor the Patriots are particularly great running teams, and that is in large part because both are so effective through the air. Neither of these defenses is particularly good at stopping the run, though, so there is a chance that the teams could gain some momentum on the ground if they choose to pursue that.
There are many props to choose from that deal with the running game in the Super Bowl. Here I want to look at four that deal with the No. 1 backs for each team, and then one that stands out as a very interesting one (All Super Bowl odds are from Bovada):
Bradshaw is the driving force of the Giants’ running game, but you shouldn’t mistake him for a high-level back. He amassed just 659 regular season yards (in 12 games), and had only one 100 yard game all season. He has missed some practice since the NFC Championship because of a foot issue, but is listed as probable for the game.
Total rushing yards (‘over/under’ 60.5)
The over is favored here at -125. How you view this one depends on your time frame. He has averaged 67 yards per game in the playoffs, and he has had at least 63 yards in each game. Based on that the over would make some sense.
He only exceeded 60.5 yards twice in 12 regular season games, though, and failed to do so in the last six games he played. Based on that the under would be an easy pick. He didn’t play in the New England game, so we can’t base anything on that.
The most significant factor is that he has faced three defenses in the playoffs that are better against the run than the Patriots, and his best rushing effort came against San Francisco last weekend — the No. 1 rush defense in the league. I lean towards the over, but not with any enthusiasm.
Total rushing attempts (o/u 13.5)
He went over this total eight times in 15 games, so the number is set well. He went over in two of the three playoff games, including 20 carries last game. The over is at -130, though, so I would look towards the under.
There is a bigger factor that we’ll revisit throughout these props, though — the weather isn’t a factor in a dome, and both offenses love to throw. That means that touchdowns could be in strong supply, and teams may not be able to afford to run a lot because they need to keep up.
Yards on first rushing attempt (o/u 3.5)
This one is basically a coin flip. The under is at -130 and the over is at even money. Given that, the over seems like the clear choice.
Longest rush (o/u 16.5 yards)
He went over this mark eight times in 15 games, including five of the last six games. Both sides are at -115, so given the relative weakness of the Patriots against the run the over seems right here.
Green-Ellis is the main man for the Patriots, but when you have a guy who passes as much as Brady does the running backs aren’t exactly worn down. He has played in all 18 regular season and playoff games for the team, but he ran for just 667 yards in the regular season (42 per game) and 96 in the playoffs (48 yards per game).
Total rushing yards (o/u 47.5)
The over is favored here -125. The Giants stack up just 19th in the league against the run — worse than the Patriots by two spots. That’s a reason to be optimistic here. The reason not to be optimistic, though, is that he exceeded this total only seven times in 18 games, and has only done it once in his last eight games. Given my anticipated shape of the game and the price on the under I feel like pessimism is the right thing here.
Total rushing attempts (o/u 12.5)
Again, the over is heavily favored here at -130. He went over eight times in 18 games, including in both playoff games. He had no more than 10 rushes in each of his last five regular season games, though.
As I have said before, though, I expect the game to be pass-heavy, and he doesn’t tend to have his best games when the pass is featured. I could see him going over, but given that the under is at even money the decision here is a simple one in my eyes. For reference, he carried 12 times for 52 yards last time these teams met.
Yards on first attempt (o/u 3.5)
The public is very negative here — the under sits at -150, with the over at +120. To me that means we need to figure out if the over is worth a gamble or if we should just pass.
He averaged over 3.5 yards per game in nine of 18 games, including his last one against a very good Baltimore run defense. Brady is likely to come out passing, so the defense won’t be able to afford to focus heavily on the run — especially with the tight ends in action. Against the Giants last time he averaged 4.3 yards per games, and his first carry in that game was for 18 yards. I’d say the over at that price looks pretty good.
Longest rush (o/u 11.5)
The price is at -115 for both sides. He went over this number eight times in 18 games, but just once in his last five. His longest rush of the season came against the Giants last time they met. I wouldn’t find fault in betting on either side, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to jump on one side or the other.
Ahmad Bradshaw in Super Bowl XLII (45 yards) vs.Super Bowl XLVI
There are all sorts of other rushing props you could look at. I want to pick this one, though, because it is a perfect example of why you need to look closely at props to figure out what they really mean and what makes the most sense.
This year’s Super Bowl is at -14.5, -115. What that means that this prop is actually asking is whether you think he is going to run for more or less than 59.5 yards. If you think he will run for more, then you would take this year, and if you think it will be less than you take the last Super Bowl. You are betting on a total of 59.5 in other words.
Compare that to the total we discussed earlier for him of 60.5 yards. There the over is favored at -125. If you like that bet then you would love this bet because he needs to rush for one fewer yard, and you pay less for the bet. This is a strong example of what can happen when you look around, but this is far from the only time something like this will happen when a lot of props are offered.
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