Tony Johnson’s Player Props: Championship Edition
Things really fell into place nicely last week. We were able to secure a “fatality” in the player props with Alshon Jeffery dropping that pass late which kept both his yards under and the Eagles out of the NFC Championship game. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. This one felt especially good having been on the wrong side of a few those earlier in the season. This week, both top seeds in each conference do battle to determine the matchup in the 53rd playing of the Super Bowl. Both games are expected to be high scoring so we will be taking advantage of that by finding some spots where certain prop numbers have been inflated. I’ll finish with another bonus bet that lies in the more traditional realm of football betting.
Prop #1: Gurley under 73.5 rushing yards (Stations)
As noted earlier, these prop bets are all centralized around the fact that I believe this game will play out much differently than the previous meeting between these two teams. I’m expecting a slower pace on offense from both teams and possessions being treated with care especially in the 2nd half. The last time we saw the Rams play, Gurley was lighting the Cowboys defense up with regularity. He showed that usual burst that we remember from before he was injured late in the season. With that last contest fresh in mind, I believe this number is inflated here and we will continue to see upstart C.J. Anderson steal carries away from Gurley during this game. Another thing that isn’t being talked about at all is how strong New Orleans’ rush defense is. Their defensive line is as good as anyone in the NFL allowing a paltry 3.6 yards/carry during the regular season. They will continue to be great and attempt to force Rams QB Goff to beat them with his arm. Gurley should end up with about 64 yards on 15 carries.
Prop #2: CJ Anderson under 48 rushing yards (Will Hill)
Speak of the devil! Good old C.J. Anderson (pregnancy weight included) has been annihilating opponents the last three weeks and is one of the reasons the Rams were able to secure the #2 seed in the playoffs. Anderson has 66 carries for 422 yards in the last three games (6.4 yards per carry!!!) while carrying around some excess weight that he claims was added after he thought his season was over when Carolina released him. Why the hell are we betting an under here? Well in case you missed prop #1, Gurley is back. I believe Gurley is nearly 100% healthy at this point and in times of need it will be Gurley that will see more snaps than Anderson. In fact, I believe there is a chance that if Anderson starts off slow and the Rams are behind in the game, Gurley may play nearly every snap in the second half. This is simply a great spot to find a player overvalued who has played well in recent weeks. I expect Anderson to finish with about 35 yards on 10 carries.
Prop #3: Kamara under 109.5 rush and receiving yards (Will Hill)
There’s not a whole lot to say other than this number is just way too inflated. I respect Kamara’s talent immensely and I like how he’s used in the New Orleans offense. The problem lies in how this game will likely to go. Oldie but goodie Wade Phillips is renown throughout the NFL at defensive scheming and the expectation is that LA will be better prepared this time around. Added to that, I believe possessions will be tighter, especially in the second half. We will also see plenty of Ingram in short yardage situations and in the red zone. Speaking of Ingram, Kamara has only gotten over 109 combined yards once in the 12 games Ingram has been back from suspension. There will simply not be enough touches for Kamara and barring some massive big play, I think he will stay under this one. My projection is Kamara gets 20 touches for 90 yards total.
Prop #4: M Thomas under 95.5 receiving yards (Will Hill)
This one is scary. This is one of those numbers that at first glance seems far too low. ‘Michael Thomas is the best WR by far on New Orleans. Brees is great. He just had a great game against Philly. I’ll take the Thomas over in a laugher’. (Thanks Spike) As I got into studying this game I started to see that that quote was flawed in many ways. Thomas is a pure possession receiver. He may be the best at it in the game right now. He doesn’t have breakaway speed. His size is not imposing at all. He simply runs routes beautifully and is always in a good position for Brees to find him. When yards props start to get really big for receivers like this it’s important to strike while it’s hot. Thomas has only gone over 95 yards six times this season in 17 games. (35%) Going back to everyone’s favorite weird grandpa Wade Phillips, I believe LA will make a point to disrupt Thomas as much as possible in this game. He set a career high with 211 receiving yards in the previous game against the Rams. It won’t be even close to that this week. Let’s go with 8 catches for 78 yards.
BONUS: Kansas City ML -160 (Jerry’s Nugget)
I’d like to first apologize for sending you to Jerry’s Nugget. I realize that nobody wants to trek into North Vegas just to make a bet on a game. The only thing I will say is that you can mitigate the damages by having the prime rib in the Jerry’s Nugget Famous Coffee Shop. Its extremely good, comes with a lot of sides, and is very reasonably priced. In regards to the game, it feels like KC is clearly in the best position to win here. NE has struggled immensely on the road this season and their splits in the home/away category are astounding. NE has only garnered 10 turnovers on the road while procuring 18 at home. They are +117 yards/game at home this season and -43 yards/game away. There are others but suffice to say that this would be a whole different ball game if it was in Foxborough. Lastly, Andy Reid has done very well offensively against NE the last few years having scored over 40 points three times in a five year span. I admit this game could be tight down the stretch but I like KC to win outright. Final score 31-27.
I wish everyone good luck this week. I will write another article sometime before the Super Bowl which should include some fun spots as we get through the “Bible” of prop bets. It’s truly one of the best times of year for betting. Have fun!