After a fantastic first week of playoff prognostication, I predictably performed poorly.
I whiffed on everything from the Bengals-Titans game (do you realize how hard that is to do?!), and outside of a same-game parlay and a player prop win involving Elijah Mitchell, the 49ers-Packers game didn't go my way either. Sunday's games went a little bit better, especially all the player props I had on Gabriel Davis, but it still wasn't a good weekend.
That was then, this is now.
We should be treated to a pair of good, competitive games on Sunday. The best complement to these games is some player props that I believe provide an edge. Let's dig into where we can all pick up some found money.
All lines are from Caesars Sportsbook as of Friday afternoon.
Best Bet: Joe Mixon over 30.5 receiving yds +100
This line's been on the rise, so lock it in as soon as you realize that you like it. Mixon's role in the passing game has been on the rise -- he's collected at least five targets in each of his past four games and secured at least 28 receiving yards in each of them (40-plus in three of the four). Kansas City's pass defense against running backs has ranked poorly all year but over the past three weeks specifically, they've seen running backs average 4.7 yards per target. That's not exceptionally bad, but it does include matchups against teams like Denver and Buffalo who didn't use their backs in the passing game that much. Judging by the recent track record, Mixon should be a big part of Cincy's pass effort and should manage north of 30 yards.
Another one: Burrow over 287.5 pass yards -115
I fully admit this feels like a trap line. Everyone who's paid attention knows how great Burrow has played lately, throwing for over 300 yards in five of his past seven games. So why is it "only" 287.5 yards? The matchup might have something to do with it -- Kansas City has allowed just two quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards in their past 14 games. But those games include a lot of mediocre quarterbacks, and the stat doesn't take into account that the Chiefs have let up over 300 yards passing in two of their past four games, including over 400 yards to Burrow in Week 17. In two playoff games the Bengals have dialed up pass plays 66.4% of the time, a clear change in how they operated from earlier in the year. I think the oddsmakers got this one wrong.
One more: C.J. Uzomah over 3.5 receptions -135
It's a little expensive to take, but Uzomah has at least four receptions in each of his past four games thanks to an uptick in targets. He tends to see more targets against zone coverage, which the Chiefs have played roughly two-thirds of the time. The juice is higher on this compared to his yardage prop but I like the odds of him hitting this one better than the yardage one.
Big odds: Bengals +4.5 at +140; Chiefs to win/Patrick Mahomes over 299.5 passing yards/Joe Burrow over 299.5 passing yards same-game parlay +500
Of the Bengals' 19 games, 15 have either been wins or losses by three or fewer points. If you don't think the Chiefs will blow out the Bengals, take this bet. If you <i>do</i> think the Chiefs will blow out the Bengals, then the second bet might be more up your alley.
Best Bet: Tyler Higbee over 40.5 receiving yards +100
Last week's total for Higbee was 43.5 yards -- somehow it's lower this week. Could it be the matchup? Doubtful -- the Niners defense gave up 50-plus yards to a tight end in two of its past three games, only keeping the Packers tight ends under decent yardage because Aaron Rodgers doesn't throw to them often. Higbee has had at least 45 yards in five of his past six games and has at least five targets in eight of his past nine. He's a legit part of the Rams receiving corps and I don't see that changing in their biggest game of the year.
Another one: Robbie Gould over 1.5 field goals made +110
I thought the odds on this would be lower after Gould knocked through a game-winning field goal last week. Gould has made 20 of 23 field goals this year and will kick indoors in perfect conditions against a Rams defense that's let up at least two field-goal tries to four of its past five opponents.
Yet another one: Cam Akers under 63.5 rushing yards -110
The last time the 49ers allowed over 63 yards to a running back was against Seattle in Week 13 when Travis Homer ran for 73 yards on a fake punt! That doesn't even count! You'd have to go back to Week 9 (James Conner) to find the last time a legit starting running back had even mild success against the 49ers. Not only did Akers fumble twice in crucial spots last week but he also didn't have much explosiveness nor did his offensive line pave lanes for him on interior runs. Don't be surprised to see Akers see less work this week than last week, and don't be surprised to see him remain relatively inefficient.
One more: Brandon Aiyuk over 48.5 rec yds +100
Aiyuk's donut last week against a very good Packers pass defense helped lower expectations for this week. In his three games prior, Aiyuk wrangled at least four receptions for a minimum of 66 yards. I would expect him to come into numbers closer to that this week, even against a tough Rams pass defense. Aiyuk lit them up for over 100 yards in Week 18, and the Niners should struggle to move the chains on the ground.
Garoppolo has an interception in four straight games (including two against the Rams in Week 18) and Stafford had multiple interceptions in each game against San Francisco in 2021.