Isiah Pacheco Odds and AFC Championship Props: Ravens Aided as They Clamp Run Game

Isiah Pacheco could be facing any number of obstacles in the AFC Championship — from injuries, to weather, to the Ravens' formidable defense. See why our NFL picks are fading the Chiefs' back on Sunday.

Jan 28, 2024 • 13:06 ET • 4 min read
Isiah Pacheco NFL
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At this point, the Kansas City Chiefs seem inevitable as Andy Reid’s team gets set to play in its sixth straight AFC Championship — but for the first time, they’ll be vying for a Super Bowl ticket on the road. This Baltimore Ravens team doesn’t only have home-field advantage and the likely MVP at quarterback; it’s got a ferocious defense.

With how loaded Baltimore is, the NFL odds have the Ravens as 4-point home favorites, and they’re in position to take advantage of a banged-up Chiefs running game. While Isiah Pacheco odds have been trendy targets in recent weeks, injuries and this defense should be able to slow him in a sloppy weather game.

You can see how I’m betting on the Chiefs running back as we dive into the NFC Championship odds in my free NFL picks below.

For more NFL playoff coverage, check out our Chiefs vs. Ravens picks and predictions!

Isiah Pacheco AFC Championship prop picks

Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Isiah Pacheco AFC Championship prop pick

Under 84.5 rushing and receiving yards (-115)

The weather at M&T Bank Stadium is forecasted to be harsh with strong winds and a consistent downpour expected. Usually, that’s a bonus for the run game, but with how well-rounded this Ravens defense is, it might actually hurt the Chiefs ground attack.

All season, defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald’s unit has been bullying offenses with stars at every level. It ranked second in EPA per play and second in EPA per pass this year, allowing just 191.9 passing yards per game.

Its back seven has been so good in coverage and its pass rush borderline unstoppable, and with this weather, it should be able to commit more players to stopping the run and remain comfortable in the back end in coverage. That’s going to hurt Pacheco’s ability to run through tackles and pick up chunk yardage like he’s constantly done the last few weeks.

This Baltimore defense ranked just 16th in EPA per rush this season and allowed 109.4 rushing yards per game, 14th-fewest in the NFL, but it's played better down the stretch. 

Since Week 15 — including the divisional round win and excluding Week 18 when starters were rested — Baltimore is 10th in EPA per rush despite having played two of the best rushing attacks in the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers. Over those four games, they held opposing offenses to just 97 rushing yards per game and won each game.

On average this season, Baltimore’s defense has allowed 122 total yards to opposing running back rooms. It’s not a small number, but Pacheco hasn’t been practicing this week as he deals with an ankle and toe issue that could slow him down.

He played just 36 snaps against Buffalo, and it could mean more playing time for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Even if the injuries don’t slow Pacheco, he’s going to be dealing with arguably the best linebacker duo in the NFL in Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen; both made the Pro Bowl this season for good reason. They combined for 291 tackles and 14 TFLs.

Beyond those two, Kyle Hamilton is one of the best perimeter run defenders in the league with 10 TFLs from his nickel spot, Justin Madubuike has become an unstoppable force on the interior alongside run plug Michael Pierce, and JD Clowney has long been one of the better run-defending edge players. That unkindness of Ravens defenders doesn’t miss a whole lot of tackles, and when they do, the way the defense rallies to the football helps limit chunk yardage after contact.

That’s what Pacheco’s running style takes advantage of, but if the Ravens can key in on him and finish tackles, he’s going to have a hard time ripping off big runs, especially with All-Pro guard Joe Thuney not expected to play.

Thuney is the unsung hero of the Chiefs offense and arguably the most important player on it outside of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. A pec injury against the Bills has him unlikely to suit up. He’s missed just two games in three years with Kansas City, in those games, Pacheco averaged 84 yards from scrimmage and just 4.3 yards per touch.

This is a Chiefs offense that was already struggling with running efficiency while Thuney was in the lineup — Pacheco averaged 84.2 yards from scrimmage in the regular season. It ranked 18th in EPA per rush this season and has been getting worse. Over its last five games, from Week 15 through the divisional round, the Chiefs are 29th in EPA per rush.

Prop: Isiah Pacheco Under 84.5 rushing and receiving yards (-115 at bet365)

Isiah Pacheco AFC Championship same-game parlay

Isiah Pacheco Under 84.5 rushing and receiving yards

Patrick Mahomes Under 240.5 passing yards

Patrick Mahomes Over 27.5 rushing yards

Between these two defenses, and with the weather being a factor, it’s shaping up to be a low-scoring defensive AFC Championship Game. In a down year for the Chiefs offense, it ranked 11th in EPA per play this season, this is the best defense it has seen.

While Mahomes is still a terrifying passer, he hasn’t played a pass defense like this one and his pass-catching group is the worst it’s been during his tenure as Chiefs quarterback. In his six years as the starter, he averaged a career-low this season with 261.4 passing yards per game and now must play a Baltimore secondary that allowed more than 240 passing yards to just five passers this season — CJ Stroud, Brock Purdy, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Trevor Lawrence.

This season, including playoffs, Mahomes has thrown for at least 241 yards 10 times in 18 games, and has relied more on his legs. When plays breakdown, Mahomes has been a scrambling threat, rushing for more than 27.5 yards nine times this season.

Over his last four games, including playoffs, he’s averaging 28.7 rushing yards per game on 5.5 attempts, that’s an uptick from his 24.3 rushing yards on 4.6 attempts during the regular season. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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