The wild card round left me with the impression that anything could happen in the NFL when you’re a team riding momentum.
Philadelphia and Indianapolis have more than almost anyone right now. And they won as sixth seeds. Though they may be considered underdogs for as long as they’re in the playoffs, they’re clearly no slouches despite sneaking into the playoffs on the final week.
The Colts will battle the top-seeded Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round, while the Chargers travel to New England to face the Patriots. On the NFC side of things, the Eagles get their toughest test yet with New Orleans. Also, the Rams look to break-through against the Cowboys in LA.
Within each game will a ton of great prop bets to find value in. But I’ve selected the best one from each matchup. Some involve stars like Drew Brees. Others include the team bet or a combination of both opponents.
Kansas City and Indianapolis will kick off the weekend at 4:35 EST from Arrowhead Stadium. And that’s where I’ll start with my four-pack of NFL prop wagers.
Indianapolis Colts Total 25.5 (-120)
If you didn’t know already, this Colts team has won 11 of its last 12. It’s safe to say they’re hot.
But they’ve also had 27.5 points per game during that time, and that’s not excluding the off-game they had where they were shut out by Jacksonville. They may have only scored 21 last week, but they were draining the clock late in that game and were up against one of the AFC’s best defenses.
The Chiefs are not that. Not even close.
Teams that finished .500 or better scored an average of 36.1 points against the Chiefs. That’s a total based on seven different games. They may have buckled down against Oakland a couple weeks ago. But that’s the Raiders, not Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton.
Those two are on the fire and could create a lot of problems for the Kansas City secondary. Even worse for the Chiefs is the fact Marlon Mack has been running with serious confidence.
The RB had 148 rush yards on only 24 carries against a D-line with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Imagine what he could do against the NFL’s worst run defense.
If the Chiefs are to win, it’s going to be in 35-31 fashion, if not in an even bigger shootout. Having Eric Berry back in the secondary is a bit of a boost. But it’s not enough of one to stop Luck, Mack, and Hilton.
Rams to Win by 1-6 Points
The second game of Saturday will involve the Rams and Cowboys, with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 EST.
And in this one, I see a more physical contest than you usually witness in a Rams game. With the points total only set at 50, expect a good dose of the run game from both teams if Todd Gurley is truly healthy.
I think with the mix of weapons LA has, they’ll be able to squeeze past the tough front-seven of Dallas. But if the Cowboys establish the run game early and often, Ezekiel Elliott will single-handedly shorten this game and tighten it too.
Dallas can shut down great offenses. Everyone saw that against the Saints earlier in the season. But a well-rested Rams team and well-prepared coach in Sean McVay give them the advantage.
The Rams coach knows how to make halftime adjustments to fit the style of the game. The Cowboys’ Jason Garrett, on the other hand, has not been able to prove that. I think the coaching will play a huge part in this one and there’s an advantage for the Rams there.
But while I think the Rams will win, I don’t see Todd Gurley getting a ton of room. It’ll be hard for him to get in a rhythm against a strong front after missing the last couple games. And he only had over 77 yards once this season against an above .500 team.
Overall though, I think this team will be fine. The Cowboys aren’t the Bears on defense and this isn’t the Windy City in near-freezing temperatures.
Five of the Rams wins this year came by 1-6 points. The Cowboys have been in six such games. Look for this one to be tight right to the end with McVay holding the better cards in crunch time.
Patriots vs Chargers—Over/Under 50.5 Points (Adjusted Line)
Call it a prop or merely an adjusted line, but these two teams are going over it.
The regular over/under right now is 47.5 (-115) if you want to play it a little safer. But this is Phillip Rivers’s legacy and perhaps last great shot at a championship on the line. The game also has a deeper meaning for the Patriots. This could signal more than just the end of a season, but an era.
I just don’t see Rivers and Tom Brady having their offenses held to under 25 points here.
The Chargers made great changes against the Ravens just a couple weeks after losing to them. That Baltimore team was dangerous, and LA found a way around them. Scoring two or three more points against a defense ranked 13 spots lower in efficiency seems anything but a wild proposition.
And though the Patriots haven’t looked as good this season, haven’t I heard that one before? For as vulnerable as they may be, they still grabbed the No. 2 seed and have plenty of weapons offensively.
Brady is his best this time of year. During his time at New England, the Patriots have scored nearly 29 points per playoff game at home. Those numbers have only been boosted over recent years.
Most Passing Yards
There will be plenty of great quarterbacks playing this weekend. Patrick Mahomes (the MVP), Andrew Luck (Comeback Player of the Year), and Tom Brady (G.O.A.T) come to mind.
But I like Brees in this prop for several reasons. First off, let me breakdown the other QBs.
The first one I can cross off is Dak Prescott. The Cowboys will be going to the ground game a lot and I just don’t think a top-10 pass defense with two shutdown corners will allow much.
Phillip Rivers is at +650 in this prop. That’s pretty good value. But New England’s pass defense has only allowed 234 yards passing per home game this season. And those numbers are tilted upward by that shootout Patrick Mahomes got into with Tom Brady.
Rivers is great, but he’s not Mahomes.
I think Nick Foles will make some timely throws and keep the game close against New Orleans for a while. But very rarely does a QB outdo Brees in his own building. Carson Wentz certainly didn’t in the 48-7 blowout the Saints handed Philadelphia a couple months ago.
Jared Goff is playing one of the more respected defenses in the league (Dallas). I think he’ll get good yardage, I just think there won’t be as many opportunities. It certainly won’t be as open of a game as the one New Orleans.
So that leaves Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck. While I think they could match each other almost blow-for-blow, I like the Colts to come up with more timely stops than the Eagles D will against Brees.
With Luck, I see the Colts utilizing the ground game a lot as well up against that league-worst run defense. He may get more than the 222 yards he had last week. But the 260-275 range is probably a safe bet.
I see Brees doing over 300. Sure, he hasn’t passed for many yards in recent games. But he had 363 and 4 TDs versus Philly last time around. And that was no fluke. He averages 301 yards a game versus the Eagles in seven career matchups against them.
He’s a well-rested and prepared veteran who is one of the greatest students of the game and dropped 48 on this opponent last time out. It’s hard to go with anyone else here.