NFL Wild-Card Special Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/3/2014
I haven't done any "mosts" special props this season because there were usually so many other unique options, but this looks like a good weekend to start with four wild-card games -- three of which look very evenly matched. The only one that doesn't, in my mind, is San Diego at Cincinnati. But even a Bolts win there wouldn't exactly be a shocker.
It's a quarterback league, so let's start with which quarterback will throw for the most yards this weekend. To no surprise, the Saints' Drew Brees is the 3/2 favorite. Has there ever been a QB with a Hall of Fame resume who was more suited to a dome than Brees? I can't think of one. I don't know if it's a lack of arm strength of if the Saints' timing is off in the noise of an opposing stadium, but Brees simply isn't the same guy outside the Superdome. True, the Eagles did allow an NFL-high 290 passing yards per game in 2013. It's also going to be about 20 degrees by kickoff Saturday night. Brees averaged 290.8 passing yards on the road, where the Saints are 3-5. That number jumped to 354.4 at home, where New Orleans is 8-0. So I don't like him this week. Perhaps my favorite prop is which team has more yards, Saints (even) or Eagles (-130). Take Philly.
I also don't like Aaron Rodgers (4/1) against the 49ers on Sunday. If this were September and not January, maybe. Have you seen the weather forecast for Green Bay come kickoff? It could be minus-5 with wind chills in the minus-30s. Footballs feel like rocks in that weather, so I don't imagine either Rodgers or Colin Kaepernick (12/1) puts up big numbers. I'm going with Cincinnati's Andy Dalton at 5/1. He threw for only 190 yards in a Dec. 1 win at San Diego but has been excellent at home, where the Bengals are unbeaten. San Diego is 29th against the pass, and I think the Bolts are overwhelmed on Sunday. Dalton has a total set at 266.6 yards. His counterpart, Philip Rivers, is 7/1.
On the receiving yardage total, the Bengals A.J. Green is the 4/1 favorite. The Chargers held him in check Dec. 1 with five catches for 83 yards. In fact, Green hasn't had a 100-yard game since he had a fifth straight on Nov. 10. Teams are essentially giving Green the Calvin Johnson treatment and forcing Dalton to go elsewhere. Because of the weather, I don't like Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (5/1) or Randall Cobb (6/1) or San Francisco's Michael Crabtree (15/1). Brees has too many targets to focus on one, although Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are 6/1. I think the Saints double Philly's DeSean Jackson (6/1). On this one, I'm going indoors and leaning toward the Colts' T.Y. Hilton (9/1). Frankly, he's about the only guy Andrew Luck can throw to. Hilton was held to five catches for 52 yards in a Dec. 22 win at Kansas City. Hilton's numbers are way better at home, and I think the Colts are going to need a big play or two from him to beat Kansas City. Plus, no weather worries there. Hilton is given a total yardage of “over/under” 67.5, so take the over.
There are just four options on the top rusher this weekend: Philly's LeSean McCoy (even), the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles (+200), Packers' Eddie Lacy (+500) and Chargers' Ryan Mathews (+500). Why no Frank Gore of the Niners? McCoy seems the easy choice considering he led the league in rushing and closed the season strong. I would take him at -175 to score a TD in the game (no is +145). I like Charles on the rushing prop, again because of the dome but also as he is the Chiefs offense. Indianapolis was 26th in rushing defense. Charles had 106 yards in the first meeting with Indy and rested last week so is probably as healthy as he's been all year. Charles has an over/under rushing total of 92.5 at Bovada, so I'd certainly lean over there.
Bovada also offers a few team props on wild-card weekend, including how many of the four wild cards win, with an over/under of 1.5. The over is the -150 favorite. Obviously all four wild cards are on the road, and only San Francisco is a favorite. So I'm a bit surprised the over is so heavily favored. I would take the under and also double up on the exact number of wild-card teams to win with one at +150. I think it's Kansas City. That a wild-card team will play in the Super Bowl is +300 with no at -500. I believe if you wager on this it's only on the 49ers. I don't see the Chargers, Chiefs or Saints winning three road games to get there. The Niners have the talent to do so. I'd probably still say no.
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