With the two biggest games of the season thus far on slate for Sunday, it is time to delve a little deeper into the games and see which props out there will give you your best chance to win. Below are my “prop picks” for the AFC and NFC Championship Games for those looking for a little extra action!
Prop Betting Picks
Packers vs Bears – Total Sacks by Both Teams – Over 5.5 (-115) – Click Here to bet it
Mike Martz’s offense has come a long from the early days of the regular season, when Jay Cutler was getting sacked with shocking regularity. However, the design of Chicago’s offense dictates that Cutler will be attacked more often than the average quarterback, and Green Bay’s defense is more capable of getting to the opposing quarterback than most teams. The Packers were second in the league during the regular season with 47 sacks during the regular season. Meanwhile the Bears were the most sacked team in the league at 56, which is 6 more than the second most sacked team, so this clearly remains a big issue for Chicago. In the final week of the regular season, when Chicago played Green Bay, Jay Cutler was sacked 6 times, so if it is a repeat of that, we will reach the over just on the strength of one team. With Green Bay likely to be leading in this game, Cutler will have to throw it often, therefore enabling the Packers to have more opportunities to sack Cutler as he drops back to throw. On the other side of the ball, Rodgers isn’t prone to getting sacked quite as often, but he will usually go down a couple times per game. In his last six games, including the two playoff games, Rodgers has been sacked at least twice, which includes the game against Chicago. With the Packers capable of reaching the over on this prop on their own, it is nice to have the additional assurance of a couple sacks on Rodgers to make Cutler’s sack total have to be a much more manageable number. This is a very solid bet, as both defenses will be geared up for this great rivalry with so much on the line. Look for both quarterbacks to get knocked to the ground with considerable regularity.
Packers vs Bears – James Starks (Packers) Total Rushing Yards – Over 48.5 (-115) – Click Here to bet it
Everything about this matchup screams 20+ carries for James Starks. It is clear that the mindset of the Packers in the playoffs is to establish a more balanced offensive approach, as evidenced by Starks 24 carries in the two playoff games thus far. With the success that the Packers have had in the postseason to this point, it seems unlikely that they would stray too far from that template. If Starks receives 20 carries or more, attaining over 48.5 yards is more or less a guarantee. He would need to be absolutely shut down by the Bears defense to not reach this remarkably low number. Admittedly, the Bears have a formidable rushing defense, ranking 2nd in the league in that respect. However, they still give up 90.1 yards to the run per game, so Starks should still comfortably reach the necessary number for the prop. On top of all this, one has to consider the likely way the game will play out. The smart money is on the Packers to be leading for most of the game, and therefore they will want to milk the clock by turning to Starks and a run-heavy offense. In addition, playing on the road, the Pack will be looking to take the home crowd out of it, and there is no better way to do that then long, sustained drives down the field, which are best achieved through the running game. James Starks is not an elite running back, but he has shown quickness and strength, particularly in the playoffs. The 48.5 number seems oddly low, and you should not hesitate to take advantage of it.
Jets vs Steelers – Braylon Edwards (Jets) Total Receiving Yards – Over 53.5 (-115) – Click Here to bet it
For the Jets to have any sustained attack against the Steel Curtain, they are going to need to rely on Mark Sanchez and his receivers. As was mentioned seemingly hundreds of times during the Ravens/Steelers game last week, it is all but impossible to effectively run on Pittsburgh. They have given up 62.8 rushing yards per game, which is just under 30 yards better than the second best team. Needless to say, they are about as dominant a run defense as you will ever see. What this means is that Sanchez is going to be throwing it more than usual, and one of his favorite targets is Braylon Edwards. Edwards is on something of a roll as of late, In his last 5 games, he has 52 receiving yards or more, and had his best game of the year against Pittsburgh in week 15, where he had 8 catches for 100 yards. The Steelers are not as good in the secondary as people generally think, so this is where the Jets are going to need to focus their attention on to have any chance in this game. Edwards has the speed to make some big plays down the field, so even one catch of moderate yardage should set him up nicely to hit over on this prop. With Santonio Holmes likely being considered the top receiving threat and drawing some extra attention, it should free up Edwards nicely to make a few big plays and easily surpass the 53.5 receiving yards mark.
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Jets vs Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger – Will He Throw an Interception? – No (+115) – Click Here to bet it
Before Bart Scott gets upset with me, let me make clear that I do consider the Jets an elite defense. However, as good as they are, they are not exactly an interception machine. In fact, New York has only 12 all year, which is the sixth fewest in the league. On top of that, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the most careful quarterbacks in the game. He has thrown for only 5 interceptions all year, and hasn’t had one since back in week 13 against Baltimore. He simply does not force any passes, and his receivers are some of the most sure-handed in the game. While it is certainly not impossible that he won’t throw a pick against the Jets, the combination of Big Ben’s pinpoint accuracy and the Jets’ track record of limited interceptions makes this prop a smart money move based on the percentages. While Roethlisberger may not have a lights-out game, he will keep a clean sheet with respect to throwing picks. Pick No on this prop.