NFL Picks: Super Bowl Props

I wrote briefly last week that I like New England -3 in the Super Bowl. Based on my prediction and handicap for the game, I was led to about a dozen game, team and player props that I like. There are so many props that it could be overwhelming but I carefully selected the ones below and believe each is worth a play.

First quarter under 13.5 (-125): It has been noted all week that the Patriots have played low-scoring first quarters in the six Super Bowls with Belichick and Brady. The last Super Bowl against Seattle started with a scoreless first quarter. There is worry here about the Falcons streak of scoring on their opening drive but with a total of 13.5, I still like it to stay under early on.

First half under 28.5 (-110): I lean under 58 for the full game but not confident enough to bet it. So don’t mess around and just take the first half in case the end of the game becomes a shootout.

No defensive or special teams touchdown (-190): Two really good offenses that take care of the ball. Super Bowls tend to be conservative so turnovers that lead to a score are less likely. This is a prop people like betting the yes because of the plus-money payout so there’s some value on the no.

Julian Edelman +2.5 (-115) receiving yards over Julio Jones: Dion Lewis stole the show in the divisional round and Chris Hogan was the focal point of the offensive attack in the conference championship game. I think it will be Julian Edelman’s turn in this game. Julio Jones was the non-quarterback star last round and the Patriots are known for taking away a team’s top option. I think they will focus their defensive attention towards him and limit his big-play receptions.

Taylor Gabriel +9.5 (-115) receiving yards over Chris Hogan: Because I think the Patriots contain Julio Jones, other receivers for the Falcons will get soft coverage. I can see Gabriel as one of the players that benefits plus this is a way to fade Chris Hogan coming off a career game in the previous round.

Falcons under 28.5 total points (-115): I think the Patriots will win and cover as three-point favorites. I also lean under for the game so it makes sense that I have a strong opinion of Atlanta staying under their team total.

Tom Brady over 310.5 passing yards (-120): This is a very public pick but I envision Brady throwing a lot and getting large chunks of yards based on how I see the game playing out.

LeGarrette Blount under 14.5 rushing attempts (-115): This is correlated to my prediction that Brady will throw for a lot of yards and also the fact that Dion Lewis will take some carries away from Blount. James White is another option in the backfield. I can see Blount getting wiped out of the game script, which would keep his attempts down since he’s a non-factor in the passing game.

Julian Edelman over 95.5 receiving yards (-115): Just in case Julio Jones breaks a long reception, take this one to protect the matchup bet.

Matt Ryan over 38.5 pass attempt (-120): I think the Falcons will be trailing most of the game so that sets up for Ryan to throw. When he’s not targeting Julio Jones, he can throw to Gabriel, Muhammad Sanu and a pair of running backs with receiving ability.

Julio Jones under 97.5 receiving yards (-115): I still like this one without Edelman attached to the matchup. Slight overreaction to this number after Jones torched a porous Packers secondary.

Muhammad Sanu over 52.5 receiving yards (-115): Another player that will see a boost because of Julio Jones getting most of the Patriots attention. Since I see Matt Ryan throwing a lot, I think the targets will be there for Sanu. Consider over 4.5 receptions as well.

Patriots under 115.5 rushing yards (-115): This is a team total for New England and I think they win by throwing the ball. It feels high based on how I see the game unfolding and it helps because Brady doesn’t rush for many yards himself.

Second half + overtime is higher scoring than first half (-135): I like first half under but worried about full game under because of scoring at the end. That logic leads to an obvious play on this prop, which I think is a strong angle for most Super Bowls.

Final score prediction for fun: Patriots 31, Falcons 24

NFL: Championship Sunday Handicapping

Patriots at Broncos 

The Patriots are a three-point or 3.5-point favorite at the Broncos on Sunday. The same Patriots team that was only a five-point favorite against the Chiefs last Saturday. This line for the AFC Championship Game is saying the Patriots would be close to 10-point favorites if this game was played in Foxboro.

Are the Chiefs five points better than the Broncos? Not a chance. A Broncos are probably the better team and have an advantage at almost every position other than quarterback.

The big question in this game is Peyton Manning. I expect the Patriots to force Manning to beat them with mid-range and long throws. New England will look to stop the run and contain a screen-pass game.

There’s not much value in betting on the Patriots against the spread so I will approach this game by picking against the Broncos defense. I will tweet out official plays but will likely go under the Broncos team total, which is currently posted at 20.5. I will also take a closer look at the first half under for this game.

Cardinals at Panthers

Let’s get this out of the way early. I think the Cardinals are a slightly better team than the Panthers. The Panthers are a 3-point favorite so I think there is some value in the Cardinals.

The first half for the Panthers couldn’t have gone better against the Seahawks. A long run by Jonathan Stewart set up an early touchdown and pick-six by Luke Keuchly put Seattle in an early hole and they could never recover. It was a dream start for Carolina and I don’t think that will happen this week.

I do like the Cardinals to win straight up and think their wide receivers will be able to have success against the Cardinals secondary. Josh Norman has had a very strong season and will likely be able to contain Larry Fitzgerald. I will look at the props for Michael Floyd and John Brown in this game. I think both could be very productive playing away from Norman. Floyd got the headlines last week with his two touchdowns receptions but Brown had more receptions and targets. He didn’t score a touchdown but his a deep threat that could change the game in one play. I will post the props I like on Twitter but they will likely involve Brown over receiving yards and to score a touchdown.

As for the side, I will tweet an official pick on the Cardinals later but will hold out hope the line gets to 3.5-points.

NFL: Divisional Round Handicapping

Chiefs at Patriots (-4.5)

I think there is value in the Patriots with this line. A month ago they would be closer to a field goal favorite. New England had an extra week to get healthy, which includes star wide receiver Julian Edelman. I can see the Patriots taking an early lead and the Chiefs having to chase a lead. Alex Smith isn’t the quarterback you want when trying to close a deficit. The Chiefs looked great last week but they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and took advantage of five Texans turnovers. The Chiefs might seem tempting but I’m not going to overthink this one. It’s Bill Belichick with a two weeks to prepare against Andy Reid. I’m going to side with the Patriots. Pick: Patriots (-4.5) over Chiefs 

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NFL: Super Bowl Pick

This season’s Super Bowl reminds me of the same situation last year. The Seahawks needed good fortune to sneak out a home win the NFC Championship against San Francisco. This year they were on the right result of a Packers collapse but Seattle was unimpressive for 55 minutes. Last year the Broncos dominated the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Two weeks ago New England defeated Indianapolis in even more convincing fashion.

I remember the day after Seattle and Denver advanced, I strongly leaned towards taking the Broncos in the Super Bowl. I overreacted to what I saw from one weekend of games and my initial thoughts favored Denver. The point spread for this Super Bowl also reacted to what happened in Championship Weekend. If I remember correctly, Denver went from about a field goal underdog to a field goal favorite in the days following their AFC Championship win. The more I thought about it the more I started to like the Seahawks because they were the better defense and there was line value. I ended up picking Seattle and got that game right even though I didn’t predict a blowout.

This year I had the same thoughts after the Patriots and Seahawks advanced. I was leaning towards the Patriots especially if they were going to be a three-point underdog, which was the line before Championship Weekend. Just like in 2014 the line moved in the Patriots favor and now they are the favorites. When the line moved so much I changed by opinion and started to heavily favor Seattle. I’m going to pick Seattle for this game and here is what I think will happen in the game:

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NFL: Conference Championship Preview and Props

Packers at Seahawks -7.5

The only question in this game is how healthy is Aaron Rodgers? The Packers quarterback looked more comfortable as the game went on against Dallas but the Seahawks defense is much stronger the the Cowboys. I think there is a slight overreaction to this line with the Rodgers injury but don’t feel comfortable picking against Seattle at home. I would pass on picking this game but like the following props:

Aaron Rodgers UNDER 260.5 total passing yards: I think the Packers are going to run the ball early to make sure their defense stays off the field. Rodgers is banged up and the Seahawks have an elite secondary.

James Starks OVER 15.5 total rushing yards: This is a little risky because Starks is the backup but I think the Packers will need to use two running backs if they want to run the ball. Eddie Lacy was limited in practice earlier this week so there’s a better chance of Starks getting touches.

Marshawn Lynch OVER 87.5 total rushing yards: The Packers defense allowed 123 yards to an injured Demarco Murray last round. Lynch has 110 yards on 20 carries against the Packers in Week 1. Expect Lynch to have another 20+ carry, 100+ yard outing.

Luke Wilson OVER 27.5 total receiving yards and OVER 2.5 receptions: The Packers allowed six receptions and 71 yards to Jason Witten last week. I don’t trust the Seahawks wide receivers and Wilson is becoming a bigger part of Seattle’s offense.

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