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Super Bowl 52 Player Prop Bet Picks

Before I joined OddsShark as a weekly prop bet contributor ahead of the 2017 regular season, I was FoxSports.com’s fantasy football editor and analyst for seven years. By sharing this, my intention isn’t to jam a resume bullet point down your throat, but hope it does provide some context behind how my prop bet suggestions are formed.

On average, 7-8 months out of each of those seven years were spent analyzing the NFL and peeling the statistical onion layers away. My primary focus was on team and player production, team and player trends, defensive averages allowed by position, red-zone efficiency, players’ red-zone targets and touches, defensive efficiencies, team and player regression, and the list goes on.

Additionally, with the evolution of advanced metrics, we’ve come to a point where player prop bet analysis truly co-exists with fantasy football prognostication on the same spectrum. That is to say, the research for one can be applied to the other.

The WHY a prop bet suggestion makes sense” is as important as, if not more than,WHAT prop bet makes sense.” As was the case when generating fantasy projections, prop bet analysis isn’t meant to be spoon-fed and should possess a healthy dose of nuance.

With that said, here’s a deep prop bet-friendly dive into Super Bowl 52’s matchup between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

All prop odds courtesy of Bovada. Notes from this article on The Ringer were cited in this report. Stat tables indicate regular-season averages unless otherwise noted.

QUARTERBACK PROPS:

QB PropsPass YardsPass CompPass TDPass INT
Tom Brady289.526.520.5
Brady Per Game Avg.2862420.5
Eagles Defense Avg.22722.71.51.2

Pro Football Focus analyst Pat Thorman recently shared some fascinating splits stats. He highlighted the Eagles’ defensive struggles against the no-huddle. This season, when running no-huddle, opposing quarterbacks’ completion percentage jumped 9.1 percent to 68 percent, yards per attempt improved from 6.0 to 8.7 YPA and, most importantly, total yards per play improved from 4.83 (huddle vs PHI defense) to 7.28 (no-huddle vs PHI defense).

Why does this matter? Well, the Eagles front seven does boast a significant pass rush, which averaged more than two sacks per game, and Tom Brady was sacked 35 times during the regular season (ninth-most) and three more times during the playoffs. So, a no-huddle, uptempo offense, which the Patriots have deployed in the past, should keep Brady upright and firing against a below-average pass defense.

Be it his Achilles injury or something else, Brady – by his lofty standards – did struggle the final six weeks of the regular season. He averaged 238.3 pass yards per game with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. However, he’s flipped the script during the playoffs. Brady torched the Titans for 337 yards and three touchdowns before he exposed the league-best, 170 PYAPG Jaguars secondary for 290 yards and two touchdowns with a dozen stitches in his hand and without Rob Gronkowski for most of the contest.

Without a true between-the-tackles running back and facing the league’s best rush defense (79.2 RYAPG), Brady is in a position to erupt with efficiency. He played one game in a dome this season – at New Orleans – and finished 30-39 for 447 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. While 400 yards seems excessive, Brady did rack up 466 inside NRG Stadium during Super Bowl 51’s comeback win.

The Bet: Pass Yards 289 ½ OVER (-130)

QB PropsPass YardsPass CompPass TDPass INT
Nick Foles242.522.51.50.5
Foles Per Start Avg.**249.5232.25
Patriots Defense Avg.25122.91.5.75
**No Wk17, Inc. Playoffs  7 in two games 

Since taking over for Carson Wentz, Foles has started and completed four full games, two of which have come in these playoffs. He’s averaging 23 completions (24.5 in playoffs) and 249.5 pass yards (299 in playoffs) per game. If Brady is to be commended for his 290 pass yards against the Jaguars’ top pass defense, Foles deserves kudos for his 26-33, 352 yards, 3 TDs with no interceptions line against the Vikings’ second-ranked pass defense, which allowed only 192 pass yards per game during the regular season and finished with more interceptions (14) than touchdowns allowed (13). Foles carved Minnesota up.

How you approach Foles’ Super Bowl props comes down to how you evaluate the Patriots defense under coordinator Matt Patricia. Through the first six games, his secondary allowed 338.2 pass yards per game. While they improved in the final 10 games, they’ve allowed 267.3 pass yards per game over the past six dating back to Week 14 with Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles passing for 254 and 293 playoff yards, respectively.

While Patricia’s defense is willing to give up yards, we know they’re stingy with touchdowns, especially inside the red zone. New England finished with the eighth-best red-zone scoring percentage (TD-only). Foles OVER 242 ½ pass yards (-135) and UNDER 1 ½ touchdowns (+110) is enticing, but …

The Bet: Foles Completions 22 ½ OVER (-125)

RUNNING BACK PROPS:

RB PropsRush AttRush YdsRecs.Rec. Yards
Dion Lewis13.554.54.029.5
Lewis Per Game Avg.11.356.02.013.4
PHI DEF vs. Opp. Rush21.179.2XXXXXX

After getting off to a sluggish start during their divisional playoff game against the Titans, Tom Brady and Dion Lewis started to click and move the ball down the field. On the Pats’ third possession, Lewis caught three balls before the score. On their fourth possession, Lewis caught his fourth pass, while fellow tailback James White caught his second in the red zone and scored his second touchdown.

Against the Jaguars, Lewis caught three passes on the first drive. He’s caught 16 passes in two playoff games and averaged 5 ½ receptions per game over the past six.

White has caught seven in two playoff games and averaged 3.2 receptions over the past five. It’s also worth noting that he ranked 29th in the NFL in yards after the catch (357). His reception line is set at 3 ½ (-125 O, -105 U), with a lot of volatility.

According to Minnesota’s Zone Coverage report ahead of the NFC championship, the Eagles allowed 40 plays to go for 20 or more yards, but 55 percent of those plays came on short passes (less than 15 yards in the air). This defensive flaw falls into the lap of the Pats’ recent trend of working their bevy of pass-catching running backs into the game.

The Bet: Lewis Receptions OVER 4 (-130)

RB PropsRush AttRush YdsRecs.Rec. Yards
Jay Ajayi14.562.52.519.5
Ajayi Per Game Avg. **11.459.41.817.9
NE DEF vs. Opp. Rush24.4114.8XXXXXX
**Games w/ PHI, inc. playoffs    

Our friends over at Prediction Machine were quick to note that the Patriots rank well below average in run defense efficiency (26th when adjusted for SOS) and Ajayi has averaged better than 5.0 yards per carry since joining the Eagles. His workload has ticked upward over the past five games and he’s averaging more than 15 carries and three receptions per game during the playoffs.

If the Patriots do implement an uptempo offense and mix in some no-huddle, the Eagles will look to slow things down as they don’t want to get into a shootout with Brady. Ajayi’s workload is the key to controlling tempo as needed.

The Bet: Ajayi Rush Yards OVER 62 ½ (-125)

WIDE RECEIVER PROPS:

WR PropsRecs.Rec. Yards
Danny Amendola Props4.547.5
Amendola Per Game Avg.4.143.9
Brandin Cooks Props4.567.5
Cooks Per Game Avg.4.167.9
PHI DEF vs. Opp. Rec.12.4155.3

Acting as this year’s Julian Edelman, Amendola has stepped up during the Patriots’ two playoff games. After averaging 4.1 receptions and 43.9 receiving yards during the regular season, D.A.’s averages have soared to 9.0 receptions per game and 98 receiving yards.

After he was held to three receptions and 32 yards by the Titans, Cooks hauled in six passes for 100 yards against the Jaguars.

Circling back to the Zone Coverage report, it also noted that Eagles cornerbacks allowed the most yards after catch by a large margin. According to the chart, ~900 yards of YAC allowed or 56.3 YAC per game. This bodes well for a speedster like Cooks and a crossing-route guru like Amendola, especially on rub routes.

The Bet: Total Yards on Cooks’ 1st Reception OVER 11 ½ (-115)

The Bet: Longest Reception Amendola OVER 17 ½ Yards (-115)

BONUS: The closer the Patriots get to the end zone, the higher Chris Hogan’s value becomes. He’s caught only four passes since Halloween and only three in two playoff games, but one of those was an end-zone target and score. Although he missed most of the season, one of my favorite NFL stats is that Hogan ranked 18th in RZ targets inside the 10-yard line. With Gronk facing double coverage around the zone, Hogan will get a look and I like the ANYTIME TOUCHDOWN +225 for him on Sunday.

WR PropsRecs.Rec. Yards
Alshon Jeffery Props455.5
Jeffery Per Game Avg.3.649.3
Nelson Agholor Props440.5
Agholor Per Game Avg.3.948.0
NE DEF vs. Opp. Rec.12.8172.2

In Foles’ four completed starts, Jeffery has averaged 3.3 receptions, 48.8 receiving yards with three touchdowns and Agholor averaged 4.3 receptions with at least three in each game, 44.3 yards with a touchdown.

Without looking, do you know who led the Jaguars in receiving during the AFC championship?

It was forgotten man Allen Hurns, who finished with six receptions for 80 yards against the Pats. Hurns was matched up against Eric Rowe, the former Eagles cornerback. On Sunday, Rowe is expected to cover Agholor a lot out of the slot. Pro Football Focus projected Agholor has the best WR/CB advantage in the Super Bowl.

The Bet: Agholor Longest Reception OVER 16 ½  (-115)

TIGHT END PROPS:

TE PropsRecs.Rec. Yards
Rob Gronkowski Props575.5
Gronk Per Game Avg.4.977.4
PHI DEF vs. Opp. TE Units4.646.6

Fun Fact: The Eagles allowed opposing tight ends to catch 73 balls for 745 yards with five touchdowns during the regular season, while the Patriots allowed opposing tight ends to catch 74 balls for 720 yards with five touchdowns (ESPN).

A fascinating little stat nugget out of The Ringer’s aforementioned article where they cite Warren Sharp’s Super Bowl report is the Eagles have struggled to cover tight ends deep downfield. Philly has allowed a 62 percent success rate on 13 deep targets to opposing tight ends, 17.9 yards per attempt and a 131.1 passer rating. Why does this matter? Well, for one, the Vikings’ lone touchdown came on a 25-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph and I’m sure just by coincidence oddsmakers set Gronkowski’s “longest reception” prop line at 25 ½ yards (-115 on both O/U).

The Bet: Gronk Receptions OVER 5 (-115)

TE PropsRecs.Rec. Yards
Zach Ertz Props557.5
Ertz Per Game Avg.4.658.9
NE DEF vs. Opp. TE Units4.645.0

We all know the chemistry Ertz had with Carson Wentz, but all things considered, he really hasn’t regressed all that much in Foles’ four starts. Ertz has averaged 6.5 receptions and 65.5 yards with a touchdown.

The Patriots held opposing tight end units under 50 receiving yards in nine of their final 11 games. Tennessee’s top receiver, tight end Delanie Walker, was held to three receptions for 49 yards. If that trend gives one pause before considering Ertz, know that Minnesota’s defense ranked first against the tight end during the regular season and just allowed Ertz to catch eight passes for 93 yards.

The Bet: Who will have more receiving yards Gronk or Ertz (Ertz +15.5 yards, -115)

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