It's Week 14 in the NFL, and two of the top story lines heading into Sunday's games are the return of quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Cleveland Browns starting lineup and the return of Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy to his old stomping grounds in Philadelphia. Bovada is all over both of these situations with a pair of special props involving these two players.
I have broken down the betting odds for both of these special player props to come up with a pair of picks that offer the best value on the board.
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Johnny Manziel's Playing Status-Week 1 of the 2016 NFL Regular Season
While we are not quite sure what to expect this Sunday when 2-10 Cleveland plays host to 4-8 San Francisco as a one-point favorite, most football fans would agree that it is probably Manziel's last chance to work his way out of Browns' head coach Mike Pettine's dog house.
There appears to be a power struggle between Cleveland's top management and its head coach over the role Manziel should play in this offense, and quarterback Austin Davis's play in last week's 37-3 loss to Cincinnati opened the door for his return to the starting lineup this week.
His performance on the field this season in six appearances, including three previous starts, has not been all that bad with 933 yards passing and five touchdown throws verses just two interceptions. He has added another 90 yards on the ground on 17 carries. The big question is how Manziel's continued antics off the field will affect his status with the team this offseason.
In light of the whole situation, Bovada has set the prop bet odds at +250 that Manziel will be the Browns' starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2016 regular season. The odds are also set at +250 that he is still with the team as a backup. The odds jump to +300 that Manziel opens the new season as a backup on another NFL team and they are set at +500 that he is a starter somewhere else in the league. The final prop odds are +200 for none of the above.
The key to coming up with the right pick in this prop is Pettine's future with the Browns. He is only in his second season as head coach, but his team took a major step backwards after posting a respectable 7-9 record last year. If he stays, I would have to believe Manziel will be gone. However, given the fact that Johnny Football was a first round pick just two years ago, I actually believe that Manziel stays and Pettine goes.
I will go one step further and name Manziel as the starter for Week 1 in 2016 since the ownership in Cleveland will be looking for some kind of return on their investment.
LeSean McCoy- Total Rushing Yards Week 14
The Buffalo Bills are 6-6 on the year and still battling for a possible wild-card spot in the AFC, but all the talk this week in preparation for Sunday's game against the Eagles is McCoy's return to the playing field where he racked up a good portion of the 6,792 yards that made him Philadelphia's all-time leading rusher in just six years with the team.
Making things even more interesting is the bad blood between McCoy and Philly's head coach Chip Kelly over the way he was quickly deposed of in an offseason trade with the Bills. It is safe to say that McCoy will be highly motivated to have a big day in front of his old fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
Bovada has set the "over/under" on his total rushing yards on Sunday at 89.5 with the same -120 moneyline for either bet.
McCoy comes into this game with 792 rushing yards on the year as the team's leading rusher, and he is gaining an average of 4.6 yards a carry. He did miss some playing time earlier in the season due to injury, but over the past five games he has rushed for 488 yards, including three separate games where he gained 112 yards.
As a big Eagles' fan, I was disappointed when McCoy was traded since it was all about money and nothing about production. He was a perfect fit for Kelly's offense, and that has become painfully obvious given his replacement DeMarco Murray's miserable performance this year.
The main reason I am going big on the "over 89.5" in this prop is my past experience watching how some other former high-profile Eagles (Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson etc.) played in their initial return to town. McCoy is more than poised to join this list with a big day at the Linc.
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