The Super Bowl and player props have gone together like chocolate and peanut butter. These days there are plenty of player props for every NFL game, but back in the day the oddsmakers only came out with these for the Super Bowl. My first experience with them was Super Bowl XXXIV when I was in Las Vegas for the game. I was 23 and stupid and didn't know anything about football and probably lost a few bucks on them, but I remember being so excited for them because they were new to me and felt way more fun than betting on the actual game.
Fast forward to this week. It's Super Bowl LVI, player props are everywhere, I'm 45 years old and stupid and only kinda sorta know anything about football. But I'm still very excited to dig into player props. I even win sometimes!
So here we go with our final installment of NFL player props for the last NFL game we'll have until September. Let's make this one count.
All odds are posted from Caesars Sportsbook as of Sunday afternoon.
Tee Higgins Over 5.5 receptions -110
The over on this and on Higgins' yardage will be popular because he's posted at least 96 yards in each of his past two games and in six of his past nine. What interests me about Higgins is how he's performed against zone-coverage defenses. His catch rate is 13 percentage points higher and he's notched 21 explosive plays (12-plus yards) against zone compared to seven against man coverage. The Rams played the second-most zone coverage of any team in 2021 and have lined up in the scheme on 81% of their defensive snaps this postseason. It would be stunning if they went to a different approach in the Super Bowl.
Furthermore, the consensus belief is that Ja'Marr Chase will draw Jalen Ramsey in coverage on most of his snaps; Ramsey has begun playing on the outside more as the playoffs have gone on. Whether that's by design or forced after Chase has a couple of big catches on Sunday, it'll eventually mean Higgins would presumably line up the most often against Darious Williams, who at 5-foot-9 matches up poorly against the 6-foot-4 Higgins. It should make his target opportunities stabilize, which in turn should lead to some good numbers.
Want more prop picks? SportsLine's proven experts reveal their best prop picks for the 2022 Super Bowl.
Cam Akers Under 16.5 rush attempts -150
Akers played just 30 snaps in the NFC title game (39% of the team's snaps), a sharp decline after dominating work in his two-fumble game against the Bucs. A shoulder injury played a role in the limited work, but Akers remained ineffective on the 13 carries he did have. It's fair to say Akers' numbers have dragged because he's faced some top-level competition, but he hasn't been explosive -- 46 of his 59 carries have been good for 4 yards or fewer. At some point that has to catch up with him and take him off the field.
But the real reason why I love this under is that the Bengals have simply made defenses prefer to throw against them. Exactly two running backs, D'Ernest Johnson and Derrick Henry, made it past 15 rush attempts against the Bengals in their past 15 games, and Johnson's matchup was a throwaway Week 18 game that shouldn't count against a defense resting many starters. There have been some flukes in there, like the Broncos giving two running backs 15 carries each, but there have also been several teams that simply abandoned their run game in favor of the pass. Given how the Rams' run game has gone, it's entirely possible Sean McVay puts the entirety of his offense on Matthew Stafford's shoulders and not the hands of his crew of underwhelming running backs.
Joe Burrow Over 24.5 completions -115
After doing work on both Burrow and Stafford's passing all week, I've determined this as the safest passing player prop bet on the board. The week began with Burrow's passing yardage prop at 273.5, but as of today it's at 279.5 and juiced to the over. If the oddsmakers are reacting to the public betting up Burrow's passing yardage this much, then it's probably best to find something that correlates with it. Burrow has completed 25 or more passes in 7 of his past 9 games with at least 280 yards.
The cherry on top? I'm confident the Rams will play heavy zone coverage, especially Cover-3. They did it all year (second-most zone coverage of any NFL team in the regular season) and they haven't changed much for anyone. Burrow has completed 75% of his throws against Cover-3 this season.
Ja'Marr Chase Over 5.5 receptions -140
Chase has at least six receptions in four of the past five games in which he's played the majority of snaps with a catch rate of 77.6% in those five. It's also not a foreign concept for the Rams to allow six or more catches to a wideout -- they've allowed as much in seven of their past eight games, and usually to outside receivers like Chase. The rookie has seen his target share dip below 20% just three times in his last nine overall and five times all season ... not that anyone's expecting him to NOT be part of the Bengals game plan. I doubt that Jalen Ramsey's presence will scare off Joe Burrow from throwing to his prized receiver, especially on short-area routes like many of the ones he's corralled lately as his average route depth has cratered from 9.8 yards in Weeks 1 through 8 to 8.2 yards from Week 9 on.