In this weekly NFL player props preview, we’ll highlight some bets you should consider for the upcoming Divisional Round playoff games.
Since player props typically aren’t posted until closer to game day, this early preview will look at some particularly favorable or unfavorable matchups that could become actionable.
This doesn’t mean we should automatically bet on these props, but these are some of the first players to check when lines are posted. Hopefully, oddsmakers haven’t identified the same trends as us, and we can find favorable value on these player props.
Also, be sure to check out the Sharp Angles Betting Podcast every Wednesday for further discussion on these player props and more betting advice for the week ahead.
Consider the under on Christian Kirk’s receptions prop
The Kansas City Chiefs’ coverage scheme has the potential to limit Christian Kirk, so take the under on his receptions.
Christian Kirk’s receptions prop, current line:
- Take the under at 4.5 receptions or higher
The Chiefs use two-high safety coverages at the league’s highest rate, per TruMedia. This forces opponents to adjust their distribution of targets, creating more opportunities across the middle of the field and fewer opportunities on the outside.
For the Jaguars, this coverage alignment appears to have the most significant effect on Kirk’s target share:
- 27% target share versus single-high coverage
- 18% target share versus two-high coverage
The Chiefs used two high coverage at a 54.8% rate this season 一 which climbed to 56% when playing with a lead, and 60% with a second-half lead. So with Kansas City favored by 8.5 points, we should expect an extremely heavy use of two-high coverage.
There have been three games in this season in which the Jaguars faced two-high coverage at a rate of 50% or higher and Kirk finished with one, three, and four receptions in those contests, hitting the under on his receptions prop each time.
In Kirk’s 14 other games in which the Jaguars faced two-high under 50% of the time, the over on his receptions prop went 12-2.
An alternative angle to this trend could be playing the over on Evan Engram’s receptions. Engram’s target share jumps from 14% versus single-high coverage to 21% against two-high.
Consider the under on Ja’Marr Chase’s longest reception prop
This Buffalo Bills’ coverage scheme is designed to take away big plays, so take the under on Ja’Marr Chase’s receptions.
Ja’Marr Chase’s longest reception prop, current line:
- Take the under at 24.5 yards or higher
This recommendation follows similar logic as Kirk’s receptions prop, as the Bills use two-high coverage at the league’s second-highest rate (55% outside the red zone), per TruMedia.
Joe Burrow faced two-high coverage at the league’s third-highest rate outside the red zone, so Buffalo’s scheme will not catch the Bengals off guard. However, Buffalo will likely use two-high coverages at an extreme rate relative to what Cincinnati is used to facing.
Buffalo used two-high coverage at a rate of 60% or higher six times, often when facing elite receivers such as Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson.
The Bengals have played four games in which the defense use two-high coverage at a rate of 60% or higher, per TruMedia. Here are Chase’s longest receptions in those contests:
- versus Steelers: 24 yards
- versus Patriots: 18 yards
- versus Cowboys: 17 yards
- versus Ravens: 13 yards
Outside the red zone, Chase generated 20 or more yards on 17% of his targets versus single-high coverage compared to 6% versus two-high.
Although Chase may still see a high volume of targets, the Bills’ coverage scheme appears to be capable of limiting his opportunities for big plays.
Consider the under on Ezekiel Elliott’s longest rush prop
This prop has been a consistent winner against the San Francisco 49ers defense, so take the under on Ezekiel Elliott’s longest rush.
Ezekiel Elliott’s longest rush prop, current line:
- Take the under at 10.5 yards or higher
Last we played (and won) the under on Kenneth Walker III’s longest rush against San Francisco, so let’s go back to the well.
The 49ers allow three or more yards before contact on 18% of carries by running backs, the third lowest rate, per TruMedia.
A lack of untouched yards severely limits Elliott’s ability to generate big plays. When limited to two or fewer yards before contact, Elliott produced 10 or more yards on just 2.6% of carries.
Elliott had 17 carries of at least 10 yards this year, with only five occurring with two or fewer yards before contact.
With San Francisco favored by 3.5 points, the game script also has the potential to limit Elliott’s touches, further diminishing his odds of breaking off a long run.