Let's go to the air with Ryan Tannehill and see which running back is about to get grounded.
Here we go again, ladies, gentlemen and other creatures. This is Week 3 of a new journey, examining the best proposition bet opportunities (props) in NFL games. For the uninitiated, props typically look at players’ yardage totals, receptions and completions -- basically, the figures posted in a box score.
In the space below, we’re going to identify players who might outperform expectations or fail to meet them. All prop lines appearing below are courtesy Bovada. After a 4-2 performance in Week 1 we made the mistake of doubling down on receptions and yardage totals for Dez Bryant and A.J. Green, which stacked a couple losses in a 2-5 week, bringing the season total to 6-7. Let’s get back in black this week. Ready, break.
Getty ImagesJim Rogash
Ryan Tannehill passing yards -- OVER 269.5
As discussed in greater detail in the context of survivor pools, I think this is a game where Miami finally lines up against a lesser opponent (after facing the Patriots and Seahawks) and imposes their will. Almost 270 yards is not a small total but a combination of the Dolphins’ poor running game (Arian Foster has been ruled out) and a talented trio of wide receivers indicates that they’re going to need to move the ball through the air. An already-shaky Browns defense lost its starting strong safety (Ibraheim Campbell) and now top cornerback Joe Haden is questionable with a groin injury. Ryan Tannehill should have a pretty sunny afternoon in Miami.
Matt Jones rushing yards -- UNDER 50.5
This is a pretty low total to attack but we have to be bold. I recall betting the yardage under on Eagles wideout Freddie Mitchell in Super Bowl XXXIX that was somewhere in the 30 range, then smiling broadly about his one catch, 11 yard outing. (FredEx doesn't always deliver.) Anyhow, Matt Jones. When Alfred Morris signed with the Cowboys in March, the assumption was that Jones would step into the leading role. Turns out Washington isn’t running much at all to this point. Taking out Cousins’ attempts, the Redskins have run 26 times through two games with Jones getting 20 of those carries for a total of 85 yards (42.5) average.
Now the Redskins are coming to New York where the revamped Giants defense has proven seriously effective at stuffing opposing runners, holding Eric Dickerson-rookie-rushing-record-seeking Ezekiel Elliott to just 51 yards on 20 carries (2.6 average). The Redskins are going to have to attack the middle of the Giants’ defense where its linebackers and safeties are more vulnerable than the fellas up front. That means a lot of Jordan Reed and probably Jones’ RB teammate Chris Thompson in the receiving game. I think Jones may get something like 8-10 total carries and not even 40 yards.
Ezekiel Elliott rushing yards -- OVER 77.5
Speaking of the Zeke, the Cowboys are facing a Chicago Bears defense that’s gotten absolutely decimated by injuries, particularly in places that makes them susceptible to getting steamrolled on the ground. Big run-stuffing nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle), linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb surgery) and linebacker Lamarr Houston (torn ACL) are all out. That’s an unfixable problem for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, particularly on a short week. I think the Cowboys offensive line revels in an opportunity to brutalize a susceptible front seven and gets Elliott his first 100-yard rushing game.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
Amari Cooper receiving yards -- OVER 74.5
Somehow after upgrading its defense in the offseason, the Raiders have become the first team in nearly 50 years to allow over 500 yards of offense in its first two weeks of the season. The Tennessee Titans don’t quite have the offensive firepower of the New Orleans Saints (Oakland’s Week 1 opponent) but they’ve got some weapons in what may be a shootout (one of the week’s higher totals at 47.5). The speedy Cooper has burned the Titans before -- 7 catches for 115 last year -- and he managed 5 catches for 71 yards last week with the Falcons’ Desmond Trufant on him. Plus Tennessee has already allowed opposing number-one wideouts to crack the century mark in the first two weeks (Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones Jr.).
Blaine Gabbert passing yards -- UNDER 215.5
The Seahawks haven’t been scoring any points or moving the ball effectively but neither have their opponents. Meanwhile, even with an average 35.5 pass attempts per game in Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense, Gabbert is averaging only 206.5 yards per game and 5.82 yards per attempt -- second-to-last among qualified QBs. <br Beyond left tackle Joe Staley, the 49ers offensive line is pretty terrible and even if Gabbert has time to set up I don’t see him finding much success against the Seahawks’ secondary; despite the offensive woes, Seattle’s defense is still #1 in DVOA and the 12th man will make life difficult for Gabbert. If Gabbert manages to crack the total, it’s probably going to be on a pass to tight end Vance McDonald late in garbage time (what’s the very end of garbage time called, “incinerator time”?) and you’ll hear my angry cries.