The NFL Playoffs are about the little details. All of these teams (for the most part, anyway) are good. It comes down to execution and the right game-plan to advance in the postseason. That means isolating the weaknesses of the opponent and exploiting those to the fullest extent possible.
I really do like looking at player props in big games. I’m not a player. I’m not a coach. But, as an analyst and observer of these teams throughout the year, I think it is a fun exercise to get in the minds of the coordinators and it can be profitable as well.
With that in mind, here are a few prop bets that I find value in for Wild-Card Saturday. (I’ll do this again for Sunday)
Raiders vs. Bengals
Tyler Boyd Over 41.5 Receiving Yards - The Raiders did a really good job of limiting big plays throughout the season and also in the game against the Bengals. Cincinnati had one play of 20 yards and it was a Joe Mixon run. The longest catch was 17 yards. Ja’Marr Chase is obviously a very dangerous weapon, but this is a game that may require a possession receiver and that guy for Cincinnati is Tyler Boyd.
Boyd had a team-high eight targets in the regular season game against the Raiders. He went over this total in four of Cincinnati’s last five games. Chase will garner the most attention, but Boyd is a guy that the Bengals isolated in the first game and I would expect the same here.
Derek Carr Under 36.5 Pass Attempts - I like the under in this game, which leads me to believe it will be a lower-scoring game that will feature a lot of slow tempo and running plays. Neither QB has a ton of experience throwing in cold weather and it should stunt the two passing attacks. With that in mind, I’d expect to see a bit more Josh Jacobs than we saw in the first game between these two.
If the Raiders get behind, Carr may have to throw. However, a lot of people think that the Raiders will keep this game close. I’m not so sure, but the Bengals ran 70 plays to 47 for the Raiders in that regular season game and Carr only had 27 attempts. He’s gone under this total each of the last three weeks and last week’s game featured an entire overtime period. I think the Raiders will want to run the ball and play keep away from Burrow and the Bengals offense.
Patriots vs. Bills
Kendrick Bourne Over 32.5 Receiving Yards - Just about all of the passing props for the Patriots have been adjusted down. The expectation seems to be that New England won’t throw much at all. Maybe that’s the case, but Mac Jones still has a passing yards prop line north of 200 yards. At some point, New England will have to throw to either soften up the box or play catch-up.
Bourne is the guy that should benefit. He’ll face a lot of single coverage with a flooded box to stop the run. He was the big-play receiver for the Patriots with 14.5 yards per reception. There will come a time when New England has to take a downfield shot or two. There will be a deep ball open on play-action. I’ll put my money on Bourne to be the one to get those targets and catches.