NFL Prop Shop: Wild Card Weekend
It's playoff time in the NFL with Wild Card Weekend getting underway Saturday. Why not spice things up with some player prop bets? Covers Expert Sean Murphy opens the doors of the NFL Prop Shop and gives you his favorite player prop picks for this weekend's action:
Most passing yards
Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) vs. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)
I'm going to take a shot with Alex Smith at an underdog price in this matchup, for a couple of reasons.
First, I expect the Chiefs to be playing from behind for the better part of this game, forcing Smith to take to the air. Second, Kansas City has to realize that its passing game is an area where it will need to improve after Smith made only 16 completions for 153 yards in a 23-7 home loss to the Colts two weeks ago. The Colts defense has been vulnerable against the pass at times this season, giving up seven yards per pass play.
Even though QB Andrew Luck is the engine, the Colts still strive to be a run-oriented team on the offensive side of the ball. Luck will need to pick his spots against an opportunistic Chiefs secondary on Saturday.
Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) vs. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
This play sets up similarly to our play on Alex Smith. There's a good chance the Chargers will be playing from behind for much of Sunday's game in Cincinnati, but that won't phase Philip Rivers, who brings a 'gunslinger' mentality to the table.
The Bengals defense has been terrific against the pass this season, but that's largely due to the fact that most teams have elected to run on them instead. San Diego didn't show much caution in its previous matchup with Cincinnati, airing it out 37 times in a 17-10 loss. Rivers threw for 252 yards compared to Andy Dalton's 190 on that day, and I'm expecting a similar ledger at the end of this rematch.
Most rushing yards
Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) vs. Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers)
As much as the Packers would like to lean heavily on their rookie running back, with Aaron Rodgers back under center, they'll undoubtedly fall in love with the passing game once again this week.
Lacy did run the ball 21 times last Sunday in Chicago, but only had moderate success, gaining just 66 yards. Veteran James Starks was actually the more explosive back on that day.
Frank Gore was a non-factor for the 49ers in last week's win over the Cardinals, but he was a workhorse in the previous two weeks, and I expect to see him resume that role against the Packers. Last week's poor performance doesn't take away from the fact that Gore has been running well, gaining at least 86 yards in three of his last four games. He'll find room to run against an up-and-down Packers defense on Sunday.
Most pass receptions
Keenan Allen (San Diego Chargers) vs. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
Since Week 4, Keenan Allen has emerged as Philip Rivers' favorite target, and even though he's a rookie, I expect him to be counted upon heavily in Sunday's showdown with the Bengals.
Note that Allen was a force against Cincinnati back in Week 13, hauling in eight catches for 106 yards.
A.J. Green has quietly emerged into a superstar, but that leaves hiim overvalued in terms of prop matchups more often than not. This is such a case as we're getting a healthy underdog return with Allen in what I feel is nothing more than a toss-up. In terms of yardage Green may win the battle, but as far as receptions go, I'll take my chances with Allen.