NFL Playoff Picks 2018: Odds, Prop Bets, Predictions for Final Divisional Games

NFL Playoff Picks 2018: Odds, Prop Bets, Predictions for Final Divisional Games

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The NFL divisional round started with a defensive slugfest that had more more field goals than touchdowns and one blowout that was over in the third quarter.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the divisional round shakes out. Until then, here’s a look at the Sunday schedule as well as a few best-bet picks for four props.

All spreads and over/under totals are through OddsShark, and all props are via OddsChecker.

            

Schedule

Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access: No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 41 O/U)

Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox and Fox Sports Go: No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (-5.5, 46.5 O/U)

       

Score Picks

Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

Vikings 24, Saints 16

         

Best Bets: Props

Le’Veon Bell Rushing Yards: Over 92.5 (10-11) and Ben Roethlisberger Passing Yards: Under 260.5 (10-11)

The Steelers’ best bet at beating the Jaguars is by running the football for four quarters. Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t leave this game with carrying the rock at least 25 times, because his team is 6-0 this year when he does just that.

As Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Stats notes, not only should Bell be prominently featured in the run game, but he should also be a focal point in the pass game as well. The fifth-year pro is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league, as he amassed 85 catches on 106 targets this season.

Shorter throws to Bell as opposed to more downfield passes would decrease the turnover risk, which was a huge problem when the Steelers and Jaguars played in Week 5 (the Jags intercepted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times and returned two of the picks for touchdowns).

Although Jacksonville fared well against Bell in the regular-season matchup (15 carries for 47 rushing yards), it hasn’t done as well against other opponents. According to Football Outsiders, the Jags allowed 4.27 running back yards per carry, which ranked in the bottom six of the league.

For his part, Bell averaged 4.0 yards per carry on the season, so an average in the fours seems reasonable here. If he gets closer to 30 carries as he probably should, then Bell should have no problem jumping over the 92.5-yard mark in the prop.

If Bell is heavily featured, then don’t expect Roethlisberger to be tossing the ball all over the yard as he did against Jacksonville last time.

A conservative offensive game plan is the best approach, as the Steelers should focus on pounding the rock, limiting mistakes and stopping a Jaguars offense that has scored just 20 points in the past two weeks. Therefore, the bet is on the under for Roethlisberger’s passing yardage total.

                       

Latavius Murray Rushing Yards: Under 67.5 (10-11) and Adam Thielen Receiving Yards: Under 74.5 (10-11)

It may seem odd to predict the Minnesota Vikings’ leading rusher and receiver will both go under their respective prop totals for yardage, but this is not an indictment on their abilities whatsoever.

Rather, Minnesota is best served attacking the Saints defense through Jerick McKinnon, the Vikings’ pass-catching running back who can break off a big game here and assume a sizable chunk of Minnesota’s yardage.

The Saints have given up gobs of yards to running backs at times this season. The New England Patriots’ James White caught eight passes for 85 yards. Theo Riddick of the Detroit Lions caught five passes for 45 yards, and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey twice posted 101-yard efforts against the Saints.

For his part, McKinnon has caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two scores this year, even though he didn’t see much action until Week 5, when he and Latavius Murray were forced into action after starter Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL. He has three games of 50 more receiving yards to his name, most notably a seven-catch, 114-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 17.

This seems like a game where McKinnon is fed the ball and asked to do work against the Saints linebackers and safeties. Given his success this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that hypothetical game plan works out. Therefore, backfield mate Latavius Murray could see fewer opportunities if McKinnon assumes more of the snaps.

As for wideout Adam Thielen, betting the under on him seems like a risky proposition given he torched the Saints for nine receptions and 157 yards in Week 1. However, New Orleans’ outside cornerbacks (Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley) have developed into stars over the course of the season, so they should be better suited to slow down Thielen when he’s not in the slot.

Breaking Sports News

via Bleacher Report – Front Page http://ift.tt/yO6Sgr

January 14, 2018 at 07:48AM

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