NFL Playoff lines may be the tightest lines of any sport, but NFL props are more of an untapped market with nice profit potential due to much softer lines. Here are some of our favorite props this week.
The NFL Playoffs begin this weekend, and all of the action will not be solely on making NFL picks on the sides and totals of each game.
In fact, most NFL playoff lines on the straight markets are extremely tight and should not be bet on, but that does not stop the masses from forcing plays on games that many would not bet if they were garden variety regular season games. These bettors are overlooking the much more beatable NFL props market, and most games have more props than usual during the post-season. Best of all, unlike the straight lines, these market numbers are oftentimes soft.
Therefore, in lieu of making conventional picks vs. the spreads and totals on the NFL odds, we will be giving you our favorite props for every NFL playoff game. All of this week’s prop odds are from Bodog.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans – Saturday, January 7, 2012 (4:30 ET, NBC)
Total Rushing Yards – Cedric Benson (CIN) ‘under’ 62½ (-105): When these clubs met in the regular season in December, Benson ran for 91 yards in a 20-19 loss in Cincinnati, but 42 of those yards came on one big play, meaning that he rushed for only 49 yards on his other 20 rushing attempts for a shade less than 2.5 yards per carry. The Bengals also led for virtually that entire game until the final two seconds, and we suspect that Cincinnati will more than likely be playing from behind here, which may limit Benson’s attempts, not to mention the fact that backup Bernard Scott had spelled Benson more often in recent weeks.
Who will record more Passing Yards in the game? Andy Dalton (CIN) -9½ (-115): This is not a slight on Texans’ quarterback TJ Yates, but the Houston game plan figures to be much more run-oriented with two great running backs in Arian Foster and Ben Tate, so we simply expect Dalton to have many more passing attempts unless the Bengals get a big lead, which we simply do not see happening in Houston. Yes, Yates had a career game in Cincinnati passing for 300 yards, but as mentioned, that was because it was the Texans that were playing from behind for that entire game. Also, remember that Yates separated his non-throwing shoulder in his only drive last week vs. Tennessee, although he did complete all four passes he threw on that drive.
Who will record more Interceptions in the game? Andy Dalton (CIN) +150: This looks like great value at +150, as besides the fact that Dalton figures to throw the ball more often, he also threw 13 interceptions in 516 attempts during the season while completing only 58.1 percent of his passes, so his accuracy was not always there. Yates threw three interceptions in 134 attempts while completing 61.1 percent of his passes, and he does not figure to throw as often because of both the expected success of the Houston ground game and the Texans not wanting him exposed too much with his left shoulder problem. Of course, all of that goes out the window if the Texans fall behind, but we do not see the Bengals building a big lead and the +150 makes this play worth it anyway.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints – Saturday, January 7, 2012 (8:00 ET, NBC)
Total Completions - Matthew Stafford (DET) ‘over’ 26½ (-125): This is another rematch from the regular season, and in that game, Stafford completed 31-of-44 passes for 408 yards in a 31-17 loss. Well, the Lions have not suddenly discovered their running game in the subsequent weeks since then and the Detroit defense does not figure to make many stops vs. a scorching hot Drew Brees, so in all likelihood, the Lions will have to pass on almost every down in an attempt to keep pace. Stafford should not mind that one bit as he looked great down the stretch, passing for at least 373 yards in each of the last three games including a spectacular 520 yards at Green Bay last week.
Total Receiving Yards – Marques Colston (NO) ‘under’ 80½ -105: Yes, Colston has proven to be an excellent receiver, but the Saints simply have too many weapons in the passing game and we think that tight end Jimmy Graham could very well be New Orleans’ go-to guy in this contest. In the regular season meeting, it was Robert Meachem that had 119 receiving yards on just six catches, followed by Graham, who had 89 yards on eight receptions while being targeted a team high 10 times. Colston was somewhat the forgotten man with just 54 yards on six catches with many of them being of the underneath variety.
New Orleans 3rd down conversion % in the game ‘over’ 50% -115: The Lions could not get Matt Flynn and the Green Bay backups off the field last week while they were trying to win to secure a fifth seed and avoid this meeting with the Saints, while the New Orleans offense can do practically whatever it wants on third down. Brees has been unstoppable all year while completing 71.2 percent of his passes and averaging a whopping 8.3 yards per pass attempt, and even should the Saints elect to run the ball on third down, Detroit is allowing a disgusting 5.0 yards per rushing attempt over the entire year.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants – Sunday, January 8, 2012 (1:00 ET, FOX)
Total Rushing Yards – Michael Turner (ATL) ‘under’ 75½ (-105): We love Michael Turner as a running back, but since we expect the Giants’ Eli Manning to pass all over a suspect Atlanta secondary, we feel that Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan will have to throw the ball more often in order for Atlanta to keep pace and that would take away from Turner’s production. Yes, Turner rushed for 172 yards last week, but that was vs. a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team that quit on its coach, costing him his job right after that game. In his previous five games, Turner rushed for more than 75 yards just once, and that was by the skin of his teeth when he ram for 76 yards in a win over the Carolina Panthers. Plus, we expect Atlanta to be playing from behind here.
Total Passing Yards – Eli Manning (NYG) ‘over’ 295½ (-125): Sure, Manning was erratic at times, but the bottom line was that he ended up with a career year, passing for 4933 yards with 29 touchdown passes against his 16 interceptions. He was masterful in the playoff clinching win over the Dallas Cowboys last week, completing 24-of-33 passes for 346 yards, but the Giants’ running game continues to disappoint, as it needed 31 attempts to gain 106 yards in that deciding game. Thus, look for the G-Men to put this game in Eli’s hands again, or more specifically on his arm, and look for another 300-yard passing performance vs. a Falcons’ secondary that ranked 20th in the NFL in pass defense despite facing some shaky quarterbacks over the second half of the season.
Total Receiving Yards – Victor Cruz (NYG) ‘over 85½ (-125): Cruz may have supplanted Hakeem Nicks as Manning’s go-to guy, as it was Cruz that led the entire NFL in fourth quarter receiving yards this season. Cruz has been great in every quarter lately, as he had a minimum of 117 receiving yards in five of his last seven games, which in itself makes this play look like awesome value. Cruz also came up biggest when it mattered the most, posting a season high 178 receiving yards in the season finale vs. Dallas, and he has had a reception of at least 42 yards in five of the last seven games, including a 99-yarder vs. the New York Jets (which would cash this play by itself) and a 74-yarder vs. the Cowboys in the last two weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – Sunday, January 8, 2012 (4:30 ET, CBS)
Total Rushing Yards – Isaac Redman (PIT) ‘under’ 79½ (-115): We get that Redman is now the starting running back for Pittsburgh with Rashard Mendenhall on Injured Reserve with a torn ACL and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not as mobile as usual while playing with a high ankle sprain. However, with this being the playoffs, we look for one of the most clutch quarterbacks in history in Big Ben to rise to the occasion vs. a Denver secondary that allowed 7.5 yards per pass attempt during its season-ending three-game losing streak, and that should take away a bit from the Steelers’ rushing numbers. Besides, while Redman is Pittsburgh’s best active running back right now, he is by no means a star and may not be the answer as an every-down back, so we may see a bit of young John Clay also, who showed some nice flashes the last two weeks.
Total Offensive Yards allowed by the Steelers ‘under’ 265½ (-115): Yes this may seem like a low number on the surface, but the Pittsburgh defense allowed just 253.0 total yards per game over the last three weeks and the Broncos mustered only 266 total yards vs. the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Denver rushed for 216 of those yards, which will simply not happen vs. the stout Steelers defense, and if Pittsburgh controls the run, do you really expect Tim Tebow to do much with his arm? Remember that Tebow completed 6-of-22 passes vs. the Chiefs for a pathetic 60 yards, and this is a guy that finished the season with a horrific 46.5 percent completion percentage!
Total Completions - Tim Tebow (DEN) ‘under’ 10½ (-105): Remember that Tebow completed 6-of-22 passes vs. the Chiefs for a pathetic 60 yards, and this is a guy that finished the season with a horrific 46.5 percent completion percentage. Oh wait, we already covered that. Also, the Steelers led the NFL in pass defense this season while allowing only 171.9 passing yards per game on an insanely low 5.2 yards per pass attempt.