In this weekly NFL player props preview, we’ll highlight some bets you should consider for the upcoming Wild Card 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.

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Consider the over on Travis Etienne’s longest rush prop

The Los Angeles Chargers are a favorable matchup for an explosive running back, so take the over on Travis Etienne’s longest rush prop. 

Travis Etienne’s longest rush prop, current line:

The Chargers have allowed 14 different running backs to break off a run of at least 18 yards against their defense this season.

Although Etienne did not crack that list during the first meeting between these teams, his teammate James Robinson did with a 50-yard run, back when Robinson was still the starting running back. 

The reason ball carriers are able to generate big plays against this defense, is the Chargers’ lack of disruption in the backfield. 

According to TruMedia, opposing running backs pick up at least three yards before contact on 31% of carries, the second-highest rate in the league.

When given at least three yards before contact, Etienne has run for 15 or more yards on 21% of his carries. 

Consider the over on Justin Jefferson’s receptions prop

Just a few weeks ago we saw Justin Jefferson haul in 12 receptions against the New York Giants, which makes the over on his receptions prop look like a strong bet.

Justin Jefferson’s receptions prop, current line:

The Giants might get cornerback Adoree’ Jackson back for this game, but Jackson missed the team’s final seven games and likely will not be at full strength. 

During Jackson’s absence, New York was forced to dramatically adjust its coverage strategy which could be a factor in this matchup. 

Prior to Jackson’s injury, no team played man coverage more than the Giants (52% rate), according to TruMedia. 

In the first four games without Jackson, the Giants dialed back their usage of man (37%), but got absolutely torched when using it. With man coverage in those games, New York allowed 8.7 yards per attempt, with six touchdowns and no interceptions 一 in contrast, the Giants allowed 5.5 yards per attempt in man prior to Jackson’s injury. 

After those poor performances, New York essentially gave up on man coverage, using it at a 19% rate over the final three games, which included the last meeting against Minnesota. 

So in this wild card game, there are three possibilities for New York’s coverage strategy:

  1. Jackson remains out, and they use the zone-heavy scheme which allowed 12 receptions to Jefferson last time.
  2. Jackson returns and is asked to play man coverage against Jefferson at less than 100% health.
  3. Jackson returns and is asked to play in their new zone-heavy scheme with minimal practice time.

None of those seems like ideal options for slowing down Jefferson. Expect another big game from the Vikings’ main weapon. 

Consider the over on Tom Brady’s passing yards prop

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive line might be getting closer to full strength, which should help Tom Brady hit the over on his passing yards prop against the Dallas Cowboys. 

 Tom Brady’s passing yards prop, current line:

The Buccaneers are expecting to have offensive tackles Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith back on the field, which bodes well for their passing game. 

Take a look at Brady’s numbers with and without his tackles, per TruMedia:

Wirfs/Smith StatusYds/AttTD-INTEPA
w/ Wirfs/Smith6.914-147.8
w/out Wirfs and/or Smith5.711-8-25.1

In addition to Brady getting a boost from a healthier offensive line, the Cowboys’ defense appears to be a favorable matchup. 

Brady gets rid of the ball quickly 一 68% of his attempts are released in 2.5 seconds or less, per TruMedia. And when he gets rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less, he’s pressured on just 10.6% of dropbacks, the fourth-lowest rate. 

Assuming the Bucs can protect Brady on these quick throws, that’s bad news for the Cowboys’ defense. 

When the Cowboys fail to get pressure and the quarterback releases the ball in 2.5 seconds or less, they allow 7.1 yards per attempt, which ranks 26th. 

The game script should also favor a heavy workload for Brady with Dallas favored by a field goal.