NFL Divisional Round Special Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/9/2014
T.Y. Hilton, my man!
The former Florida International star was a third-round steal for Indianapolis in the 2012 draft and has emerged as one of the NFL's top young receivers. He's also clearly Andrew Luck's No. 1 guy with Reggie Wayne out for the season.
Last week on the "mosts" in the wild-card round, I liked Hilton to lead all players in receiving yards at a tasty price of 9/1 at Bovada. I can't say I expected a 45-44 Colts shootout victory over Kansas City or that Hilton would set franchise records with 13 catches for 224 yards along with two touchdowns. His 64-yard TD catch with 4:21 left in the fourth was the winning score in that wild game -- perhaps the Chiefs should have double-teamed by then? I can't say I like Hilton to top all receivers this week even though he had nine catches for 100 yards and two scores in a loss in New England last year. That was actually the Patriots debut of cornerback Aqib Talib after the Pats had acquired him from Tampa Bay, and Talib has turned back into a shut-down corner. He'll be hounding Hilton all day, and Bill Belichick will make Luck turn to someone else. Hilton was targeted 18 times last week, and I bet that gets cut in half on Saturday.
I definitely didn't pick Andrew Luck to lead the weekend in passing yards as he blew up for 443 yards in the win over Kansas City. I rolled with Cincinnati's Andy Dalton at 5/1. He threw for 334 yards, which most wild-card weekends -- especially in winter-type conditions in three of the four locations -- would have been enough to win the prop. Dalton actually wasn't very good other than yards, and now there's talk the Bengals may have to bring in a veteran to compete with him (Michael Vick?) or draft his eventual replacement because Dalton regresses in the postseason.
Finally, on the rushing prop I liked Kansas City's Jamaal Charles at +200, and he left that Indy game early with a concussion, so that was a bust. The rushing king last week was a player not on the board: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick with a season-high 98 yards.
I also recommended just one wild-card team winning, but three of them did: San Diego, San Francisco and New Orleans. You'd think it's rare for No. 6 seeds to win on wild-card weekend, but this was the second time in three seasons it has happened. And history shows that they have a good chance of winning again in the divisional round, going 5-2 against the No. 1s since 2005.
So let's continue with the most props from Bovada and at quarterback. Peyton Manning is the 3/2 favorite for the most yards as Denver hosts the Chargers on Sunday. It looks to be a bit above freezing at kickoff in the Mile High City, which as we know is a big deal when it comes to Manning. It certainly won't be above freezing for long, and it looks to be fairly windy. The Chargers played the Broncos tough this year, holding them to a combined 48 points in splitting the season series, including handing Denver its only home loss. The Bolts did this by running the ball and eating clock. Manning threw for 330 yards in a win at San Diego and 289 in the home loss. Manning is given an “over/under” of 325.5 yards this week.
I think the only guy who has a chance to throw for more is Tom Brady against the Colts, and he's 6/1. Alex Smith torched that Indy defense, so think of what Brady might do. He threw for 331 yards in the win over Indy last year and has an over/under of 275.5 yards this week. I'd go over on both Brady and Manning on the yards, but Peyton probably leads the week. Drew Brees is the second favorite at 3/,1 but the Seahawks totally shut him down earlier this season, and I expect more of the same. His yardage is set at 265.5, and I'd actually lean over, barely, only because I think Brees gets a ton of garbage yards at the end to finish around 280.
On the receiving yards, Denver's Demaryius Thomas is the 4/1 favorite. Of course, the problem with choosing a Bronco receiver is that Manning has three great ones, plus a very good tight end in Julius Thomas. Demaryius Thomas is rolling, with three games of at least 100 yards in his past five. In that Dec. 12 home loss to San Diego, he had just five catches for 45 yards. In the game at San Diego, he had 10 catches for 108 yards. I expect a big day from New England's Julian Edelman (6/1), but he catches a bunch of six-yard passes. My guy this week is San Francisco's Michael Crabtree at 7/1. I'm shocked his odds are that long. Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards last week in the very wintry conditions at Green Bay and has been a beast in the playoffs since last year. The Panthers are going to stop the Niners from running the ball, so Kaepernick is going to have to throw to win. Crabtree has an over/under of 67.5 yards, and I obviously love there over there (-120).
The rushing yards leader is Seattle's Marshawn Lynch at 7/4. Remember the last time he faced the Saints in the playoffs? It was only perhaps the greatest postseason run in NFL history and launched Lynch's "Beast Mode." The Saints were so-so against the run during the season but very good last week against Philly. They pretty much sold out to stop that. Maybe they do again. I thought about San Diego's Ryan Mathews (5/1), but he's dealing with a bad ankle and didn't practice Wednesday. I have no doubt he plays, and Mathews did have 127 yards in the last game against Denver, but he didn't do a ton last week in Cincinnati and only got 13 carries because of the ankle. I do like Lynch and would take his over 84.5 yards at -125 even though he finished with only 45 in the win over New Orleans on Dec. 2. Lynch hasn't topped 100 yards since Nov. 10 so he's due.
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