Best bets to lead the NFL divisional round in passing, rushing, receiving yards
We fell short on our best bets for the Wild Card Weekend but came tantalizingly close in a few markets - including falling a yard shy on one of our favorite receiving targets. Can we close the deal this time in the divisional round?
Most passing yards
Unlike the wild-card round, which featured a few clear mismatches through the air, this week's slate largely pits elite quarterbacks against elite pass defenses. This market favors Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes despite their matchups with arguably the two best pass defenses remaining.
Only two defenses left in the field rank below league average in DVOA, and both are well below that mark. The Chiefs (23rd) are just three weeks removed from allowing 415 yards through the air in Cincinnati, and they surrendered 315 yards to the Bills in their Week 5 meeting. The Bengals (24th) ranked 26th in the regular season in average passing yards allowed (248.4) and were gashed for 310 yards by Derek Carr in the wild-card round.
That spells value on Josh Allen and Ryan Tannehill this weekend - albeit at vastly different prices with varying risk. Allen is the safer play to light it up Sunday, but Tannehill's got the weapons to make Cincinnati's suspect secondary pay. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Titans quarterback rack up yardage through the air if Derrick Henry isn't quite right in his long-awaited return.
Best values: Josh Allen (+550), Ryan Tannehill (+1000)
Most rushing yards
The clear story in this market is Henry, who seems likely to make his return from injured reserve after breaking his foot in Week 8. Are we sure he's healthy, though? He managed a season-worst 2.4 yards per carry in that game - albeit on a broken foot - and originally wasn't expected to return at all. If the Titans want to spark a deep run, they'd be smart not to overload him right away.
Elijah Mitchell paced the field last week despite managing just 96 yards on 27 carries (3.6 YPC), which is hardly the efficiency you'd hope to bet into. Still, could he repeat this weekend? The 49ers lead back faces a Packers front that ranked 28th in rush defense DVOA and 30th in yards per carry allowed (4.7) in the regular season. Game script could be an issue if Green Bay's offense is in rhythm. Still, Mitchell was the only back with more than 17 carries in the wild-card round and feels like the safest bet to see heavy volume this week, too.
If you're angling for a play at longer odds, Allen's also worth a look in this market. The Bills quarterback ranked fifth in rushing yards (66) a week ago and managed a team-high 59 yards against the Chiefs in Week 5. Kansas City allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to opposing QBs (389) in the regular season and should have its hands full again on Sunday.
Best values: Elijah Mitchell (+400), Josh Allen (+1500)
Most receiving yards
|Odell Beckham Jr.||+2000|
This is easily the most difficult market to handicap and also the most emotionally devastating to bet - at least for those holding tickets on Ja'Marr Chase (116 yards) instead of Mike Evans (117) in the wild-card round. If only that one catch wasn't called back by a holding penalty ... but who's counting?
Chase is a solid bet once again, this time facing a Titans defense that allowed the second-most yards per game to wide receivers (188.8) and the sixth-most deep TDs (7) in the regular season. The Bengals speedster tallied 115 or more yards in three of his last four games. If Tennessee can't get pressure on Joe Burrow, the quarterback will find his favorite target on a handful of deep shots Saturday.
Also, have we forgotten about Tyreek Hill? The Chiefs star hasn't been as lethal as you'd expect in recent weeks, but he did explode for 172 yards when these teams last met in the postseason. With Tre'Davious White sidelined, the Bills don't have a true No. 1 corner to match up with Hill - as if any team truly does. At these odds, I like my chances for a Hill takeover.
Best values: Ja'Marr Chase (+800), Tyreek Hill (+1300)