AFC Championship Game Player Prop Bet Picks

Due to New England’s flair for being dramatically vague with the media, how/if Tom Brady injured his thumb has us all caught up in a pigskin parody of Clue.

It was Rex … with the helmet buckle … on the practice field.

Based on media reports, broad-brush medical diagnoses from afar and, most notably, Brady’s robust prop bet thresholds – 289 ½ passing yards, 25 ½ completions, 37 ½ attempts and OVER 2 touchdown passes (-160) – it would appear he’ll be playing at 90 percent or better barring any setbacks before kickoff.

All prop odds courtesy of Sportsbook.


Pass Defense Regular Season

  • JAX – 169.9 PYAPG (1st)
  • NEP – 251.3 PYAPG (30th)

Only one opposing quarterback passed for more than 300 yards against the Jaguars this season. It was Ben Roethlisberger and after racking up 312 yards in the first loss, he posted 469 in the second. Before Big Ben’s last stand, Jacksonville allowed 159.5 pass yards per game in the previous four.

Last week, Marcus Mariota finished 22-37 for 254 yards with two touchdowns against the Patriots. New England’s pass defense struggled down the stretch, allowing opposing QBs to average 264.2 pass yards on 36 pass attempts per game with five touchdowns, three via Jay Cutler.

Rush Defense Regular Season

  • JAX – 116.3 RYAPG (21st)
  • NEP – 114.8 RYAPG (20th)

Against the Jaguars last week, Le’Veon Bell finished with 67 yards on 16 carries and LeSean McCoy posted 75 yards on 19 carries two weeks ago. Jacksonville held opposing running back units below 87 rush yards per game and to 3.5 yards per carry the final month of the regular season.

After falling behind by double digits, Derrick Henry and the Titans rush attack was neutralized. However, three of the Patriots’ final five regular-season opponents racked up 114 or more rush yards.

Dion Lewis Receptions O/U 4
The Bet: OVER (-130)

Last week, Le’Veon Bell caught nine balls for 88 yards against the Jags. Two weeks ago, LeSean McCoy caught six balls for 44 yards. Dion Lewis caught nine balls against the Titans and is averaging better than five receptions per game over the past five. All signs point to the vig being worth the squeeze.

If Rex Burkhead (knee) is active, he could – stress could – cut into Lewis’ targets, but still think Lewis is a safe play. Burkhead hasn’t played in a game since mid-December and if he did indeed cause Brady’s injury, he’s probably the most despised running back in Bill Belichick’s doghouse since Jonas Gray.

Brandin Cooks Receiving Yards O/U 62 ½
The Bet: UNDER (-115)


Chris Hogan Receptions O/U 3 ½
The Bet: UNDER (+120)

Cooks and Hogan up against A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, with Brady’s throwing hand on the mend is not ideal. As ProFootballDoc noted in his analysis, and I agree with, Brady’s ability to grip the ball comes into question because his thumb is the injured digit. His thumb is the only thing holding onto the ball on one side. The trickle-down impact of poor grip is poor accuracy. Cooks and Hogan had a hell of a time getting involved last week when a healthy Brady completed 35 passes against the Titans secondary. New England’s two outside receivers combined for 36 receiving yards on four receptions (13 targets).

Cooks has recorded 63 or more receiving yards only once in his past six games. Try as they might, it’s going to remain a challenge to get Hogan back to where he was at the beginning of the regular season. Hogan and Brady’s timing is off. Hogan has caught two passes on nine targets since returning from injury. Granted, one was a touchdown and I do believe Brady will look for him inside the 10-yard line, but Lewis, Amendola and Gronk will once again be Brady’s top target trio.

Leonard Fournette Rush Yards O/U 79 ½
The Bet: OVER (-125)

I bet against Leo last week and got torched after he dropped 109 yards on 25 carries. Something in the back of my head believed he still wasn’t 100 percent, but he looked healthy and explosive against Pittsburgh’s 10th-ranked rush defense (105.8 yards per game). The Patriots defense has been known to lend opposing offenses some slack, give a little, and that’s how Fournette will compile 80 rush yards – in little bursts. However, don’t expect Matt Patricia’s defense to allow him to score multiple touchdowns for the second week in a row. The Pats bend, they do not break.