Hello folks and welcome to the Superbowl props column, where the real money is made.
There’s some debate on how to handicap props. Do you decide how you see the game going then bet the props accordingly, or do you evaluate each bet on its merit?
I’m more inclined to go with the latter, so the props below may have a slightly different flavour to my full game preview. This year I expect to bet around 20 props, and I’ll try and give you the best ones below.
The NAP has to be Tom Brady Overs – that means yardage, around 290 in most places, attempts at around 38.5, and completions at around 26.5.
In short, the Patriots know their best chance to win any given game is through Tom Brady which means they turn the keys to the car over to him in the playoffs.
From 2014-2017 Brady averaged 37 pass attempts in the regular season and 46.6 in playoff games. That alone gives us a great cushion for the over, but I also expect the Patriots to go to the no-huddle extensively.
Against the hurry-up, (per Pro Football Focus’ Pat Thorman) the Eagles allow a higher completion percentage (68.0 versus 58.9), more yards per attempt (8.7 versus 6.0), and a better passer rating (106.5 versus 73.8).
More no-huddle equals more volume (obviously), but the matchups also dictate that Brady will throw.
The Eagles have the best rush defence in the NFL by DVOA, and Mr Belichick is not going to run into that wall when he has the best quarterback of all time on the field. The Eagles also boast an elite pass rush, and the best way to mitigate that is quick passes and screens, so again lots and lots of attempts for Brady.
So who is going to be on the receiving end of these balls? This is quite tricky for me, because I think you could bet every single receiver to go over and make some money.
For starters, the Patriots appear to have been preserving Danny Amendola for the playoffs. He has been leading the Patriots in target share (24%) during the postseason after a relatively quiet regular season. A quarter of the 40-odd pass attempts that we expect from Brady is going to be more than enough to get Amendola over his 50-yard prop for this one.
Chris Hogan’s yardage is also set very low at around 35 yards because he has been very quiet so far in the playoffs since returning from injury. However he has the best matchup among the Eagles CBs in Jalen Mills, and played 90% of the snaps against the Jags, suggesting he is healthy. I’ve backed him to go over his total as well.
Elsewhere, Brandin Cooks could be the biggest beneficiary of the no huddle approach, as he accounts for accounts for 23% of Brady’s no-huddle completions and 44% of his no-huddle yards. He looks a good bet to go over his prop of 65 yards. Which leaves Gronk. The Eagles’ surface stats against tight ends are good, but they have struggled against elite athletes at the position, meaning Gronk to go over his prop of 69.5 looks nice.
On the Eagles side, their biggest matchup advantage should be the offensive line against slow Patriots line-backers, detailed here. The Pats also struggle to stop the run out of 11 personnel, which the Eagles run frequently. It all means I’m aboard the Jay Train and have backed Ajayi over 62.5 rushing yards.
I also like Ajayi to go over his receiving total of around 20 yards. The Patriots struggle to contain pass-catching running backs, allowing 7.5 yards per attempt (31st in the league during the regular season). Ajayi also went over 25 yards receiving in both playoff games this year. By the same token I’ve backed Corey Clement to go over his receiving yardage which can be found around 13.5.
Among the wide recievers, I’ve gone under on Alshon Jeffrey, who can be found at around 60 yards if you shop around. He’ll match up most often against Stephon Gilmore, PFF’s second-highest-graded coverage cornerback since Week 10. Gilmore has allowed an average of 2.8 receptions and 38.1 yards over his last eight games.
By contrast the best matchup for Eagles receivers goes to Nelson Aglohor who will take on slot corner Eric Rowe. Rowe is PFF’s 101st-graded corner, and Aglohor looks a great bet to go over his 41.5 yards prop.
Beyond player props, I’ve backed the second half to be higher scoring at around evens. As noted in my game preview, the first quarter of Superbowls can be tense and relatively slow paced, but explode to life in the second half. This is especially likely to be the case with the Patriots who undoubtedly plan to wear the Eagles down and pile on the points late.
Best of luck folks!
Brad’s Superbowl Prop Bets
- Tom Brady Over 286.5 passing yards
- Tom Brady Passing Attempts Over 38.5
- Tom Brady Passing Completions Over 26.5
- Danny Amendola Over 49.5 Receiving Yards
- Chris Hogan Over 35 Receiving Yards
- Brandin Cooks Over 68.5 Receiving Yards
- Jay Ajayi Over 66.5 Rushing Yards
- Jay Ajayi Over 20 Receiving Yards
- Alshon Jeffrey Under 60.5 Receiving Yards
- Nelson Agholor Over 41.5 Receiving Yards
- Second Half to be highest scoring half