Betting on who wins the Super Bowl is fun, but the player props along the way are even better. Every play matters on prop bets and you can win money before the game is even over. I tried to mix in some long shots, some safe bets, and a bet to get out of the way early.
Todd Gurley MVP +1400
If it wasn’t for CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley’s health concerns, this would be a much lower number, but I think this is an excellent value. Only one running back has won Super Bowl MVP in the last twenty years, Terrell Davis in 1998. I think there is a chance Gurley, makes it two, after a statement game on Sunday. In order to win MVP, you need to score touchdowns, and no position player has done that more often that Todd Gurley in the last two years. Beyond touchdowns, the matchup calls for a big Gurley day. The Rams offense has the highest rush success rate in the NFL and the best way for the Rams to successfully move the ball is to attack the Patriots slow linebacking core. Gurley is one of the top athletes in space and should win those one-on-one battles and be featured in both the rushing and passing game. On the year, the Patriots are 22nd in success rate allowed on passes to backs, giving up 6.3 yards per catch. I have some CJ Anderson concerns, but at 14-1 I will take my shot, knowing that Gurley has multiple touchdown and 5-8 target upside in this game.
Super Bowl MVP – Any Defender +800
Since 2000, four defenders have won Super Bowl MVPs. That’s 22%, second most of any position in that time span. 8-1 odds are too much value and it takes away the guessing game of who it might be. While I don’t think a defender will win the award, there is positive expected value applied to this number. A multiple interception game or a game that sees Aaron Donald dominate could all lead to you cashing in a big ticket.
Todd Gurley over 30.5 Receiving Yards -121
I can’t like Gurley to win MVP and not be involved in the passing game. As mentioned in Connor Allen’s excellent Super Bowl breakdown, the Pats’ defense is susceptible to passes to the running back due to its aggression and painstakingly slow linebacker corps. It ranks 22nd in success rate and 6.3 yards per attempt allowed on passes to running backs. Even if CJ Anderson takes touches away from Gurley on the ground, expect him to be featured in the passing game.
Total Players to make a reception Under 14.5 -139
The Rams almost exclusively run 11 and 12 personal, mixing in five receiving options and two running backs, while the Patriots have, at most, nine players who can catch a pass, and that is including fullback James Develin, who will see at most one target, and Sony Michel, who only has one target since Week 13. Barring a special teams fake, where a random player catches a pass, I think this pretty safely hits the under. Below is a list of 16 players who could possibly catch a pass, and I see two or more of these guys getting shut out.
- Rams – Woods, Cooks, Gurley, Reynolds, Anderson, Higbee, Everett
- Patriots – Edelman, White, Hogan, Dorsett, Paterson, Gronk, Michel, Burkhead, Develin
Player to throw the first interception – Jared Goff +115
Giving Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for Jared Goff is enticing by itself, but seeing how the Patriots pressured Mahomes on 50% of his dropbacks makes +115 on Goff being the first to throw an interception look so valuable. Goff has struggled under pressure this year, just 35th completion percentage (43.4%) and 29th in pass rating (58.2). The Patriots have also been masterful forcing turnovers from quarterbacks this year, forcing an interception in 13/18 games.
Sony Michel over 17.5 rush attempts -115
Michel has 53 rush attempts so far in the playoffs, and while game script plays a part, the Patriots have made it clear they want to feature him. LIke the previous two matchups, this is another game to look to go back to Michel for a heavy workload. Wade Phillips defenses have historically been run funnels. Wade has a strong (accurate) belief that forcing teams to run leads to better, more efficient defense. This season has been no different than previous years, and it has been glaringly obvious versus top teams. Five of the Rams six opponents who have been in the top 10 have produced games with a running success rate of over 50%. Look for the Patriots to come out and give Michel the ball early and often.
Brandin Cooks – Under 69.5 yards
Prior to last week’s game, Cooks had gone under 70 total yards in six straight games. Cooks is a player who has historically struggled in man coverage. In the last three years versus man coverage, he has posted a below 55% catch rate compared to posting a 78% catch rate versus zone coverage this season.
The bad news for Cooks, who has historically been a cornerback sensitive player, is the Patriots run more man coverage than any team in the NFL. He will see a lot of Stephon Gilmore who allowed the lowest catch rate of any CB on the year, The Pats also have the speed to match up with Cooks, as they have three corners who ran sub 4.46.
Cooks can always break a long one and go over, but under 69.5 yards is the sharp side of this line.
Julian Edelman over 8.5 yards first catch -130
Last prop bet, but one that we will know very early if it hits. Give me Edelman over 8.5 yards on his first catch. Edelman has averaged over 8.5 yards a catch in six straight games and all but three games this year. On the season, he is averaging 12.2 yards per catch, so this number seems simply too low. He also will likely be on Nickell Robey-Coleman, who has struggled with man coverage, allowing a 109 rating, while Edelman has posted a 130 WR rating versus man coverage. If all of this isn’t enough, the Rams have struggled on play action and 10+ yards down the field, and with two weeks to script the first 15 plays, look for Edelman to catch a ball 10 yards down the field up the seam on his first catch and put you in the green within the first five minutes of the game.
Eliot Crist is the Sports Product Manager for The Quant Edge.He is a fantasy analyst with a background in scouting, analytics, and fantasy research. Formerly he has contributed at PFF, 4for4, Bleacher Report, Powerhour, and NDT Scouting. Eliot combines watching tape with analytics to try and take angles that other analysts aren’t to gain an edge for you.