Could backfield questions spell trouble for Chiefs, and today's NFL odds and analysis

Jan 11, 2019 |

It looks like the Chiefs could get a piece of their backfield back for this weekend's Divisional Round matchup against the Colts in Spencer Ware, but will that eat away at the betting value for the props for one of his teammates? We bring you the must-read betting notes to help you crack the NFL odds in the Divisional Round.

BACKFIELD QUESTIONS IN KC

Spencer Ware (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday, though he seems likely to suit up after having the bye as an extra week to rest his injured hamstring. Ware actually hasn’t played since Week 14, allowing Damien Williams to emerge and shine as the Chiefs’ top back.

It’s tough to say how Ware will be used on Sunday. He was supposed to take over feature-back duties after Kareem Hunt’s release, but Williams looked like a star in Weeks 15 and 16, posting over 100 yards from scrimmage against the Chargers and Seahawks before having his snaps dialed back in Week 17’s blowout of Oakland.

Even if Ware is active, it’s hard to imagine he eats too many of Williams’ snaps on Saturday as he was already starting to take over lead-back duties when both were healthy. Ware played 49 snaps to Williams’ 19 when both were healthy in Week 13, but the following week it was Williams who held a 43 to 41 edge in snaps. It will be a tough rushing matchup against Indianapolis’ defense that ranked fourth in rushing DVOA, but we envision Williams getting into the end zone, something he did six times between Weeks 13-17. We’re backing him to score a touchdown at any time.

NO QUESTIONS FOR KELCE

Earlier in the week, we talked about how Sammy Watkins might be in tough against a Colts defense that is very tough on wide receivers. The catch, however, is that Indianapolis is soft against tight ends. We brought this to light last week in backing Ryan Griffen and he would’ve hit his Over had Deshaun Watson not overthrown him when he was wide open for a long touchdown (but we’re not bitter).

Indy gave up the most catches (6.3) and yards (63) to tight ends during the regular season and ranked 29th in DVOA to the position, allowing an average of 7.9 passes and 76.2 yards. Nothing really needs to be said about Travis Kelce: He’s one of the top tight ends in football and averaged 6.4 catches for 83.5 yards per game. He’s in a great spot for a huge day on Saturday and we’re backing the Over 84.5 on his receiving yards total.

 

JEFFERY LIMITED

Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery was listed as limited in practice on Thursday with a rib injury that he apparently suffered on Wild Card weekend. He was also listed as limited for Thursday’s walkthrough session, though there doesn’t seem to be any concern for his availability on Sunday.

Jeffery has been hot since Nick Foles took over in Week 15, posting receiving lines of 8-160, 3-82, and 5-59-1 to finish off the regular season before going for 6-82 last week in the Wild Card game. He only grabbed four catches for 33 yards when the Eagles visited the Saints back in Week 11, but the Saints do not have a great pass defense with a rank of 22 in passing DVOA. New Orleans gave up some big days to perimeter receivers down the stretch (think Antonio Brown’s 14-185-2 in Week 16 and Julio Jones’ 11-147-0 in Week 12) and Jeffery could be in line for a nice Divisional Round game. We’re backing the Over 65.5 for his receiving yards total.

MCVAY TALKS GURLEY

Sean McVay talked about Todd Gurley and his knee injury on Thursday after practice. “He looks like Todd,” McVay told reporters. “He looks like the explosive, great back we’re used to.” Gurley was also removed from the injury report altogether as it appears he’ll be at full speed on Sunday against the Cowboys.

Earlier in the week, we suggested backing Gurley’s Under as we didn’t think he’d be at 100 percent and Dallas has the fifth-ranked defense in rushing DVOA. However, we’re going to flip here and look towards backing the Over on Gurley’s rushing total. Full credit goes to Covers’ Twitter follower @gorkigarcia who pointed out that Dallas’ rush defense is not nearly as tough on the road as it is at home. In fact, Dallas allowed 422 rushing yards and four touchdowns 84 carries for 5.02 yards per carry in its last four road games. Game script is also in Gurley’s favor as a 7-point home favorite. Gurley’s prop markets aren’t open yet, likely due to the early-week concerns over his knee, but we’ll be backing the Over on his rushing yards total once it is listed.

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