Vie. Feb 23rd, 2024

Uh oh. Just when it seemed like Man and Machine were going to finally merge into a unified force hellbent on destroying not each other but the sportsbooks, we have a rough week in the divisional round. Man was 0-2, caught by the hook on Christian McCaffrey rushing attempts, while Machine at least salvaged a 1-1 record, earning its lone triumph by correctly predicting that Gus Edwards would receive less than 13.5 rushing opportunities.

Man is resilient, however, and a machine doesn’t have the capacity to even understand the emotion of disappointment, so we will forge ahead into the championship round and battle each other once again in the player prop market. Hopefully, you the bettor, benefit the most from this faceoff.

Since you prevailed with the Edwards play last week, Machine, the board is yours. Fire away.

Mike: I appreciate you mentioning my hit (Edwards) and not my miss (Patrick Mahomes over 36.5 pass attempts) from last week, but here’s the thing: I’m going to double down and run it back with Mahomes. Same line. Similar reasoning. Last week’s loss was a bit of a bad beat, as the Chiefs ran 47 offensive snaps, which was a season low by six plays (they averaged 60.1 snaps in their prior 18 games).

Kansas City still called a pass-first offense after operating the league’s game-script-adjusted pass-heaviest scheme during the regular season. Including last week’s season-low 23, Mahomes is averaging 36.7 pass attempts per game this season. That number jumps to 40.0 per game in Kansas City’s six losses (38-plus in five of those six), which is notable with the Chiefs 3.5-point road underdogs. Mahomes is averaging 40.1 attempts per game in four career games against Baltimore (37-plus in three of the four, all three of which were wins). The Ravens faced 37.1 pass attempts per game during the regular season (second most), with 10 of 18 opponents reaching 37 attempts. Mahomes OVER 36.5 Pass Attempts (-110) is the play.

Tyler: My first play truly demonstrates the difference between Man and Machine. You see, a machine has no eyes, so it cannot see how poorly Mecole Hardman Jr. has played and how often he’s actively hurting his offense when given opportunities. The fumble against the Bills SHOULD be the last straw with Andy Reid. Ask 100 Kansas City Chiefs fans if they would be OK with Mecole Hardman never touching the football again this season and 100 of them would say «Absolutely!»

In fact, I bet if we gave Patrick Mahomes truth serum he would be singing the same tune. I know the Chiefs don’t have many options, but at this point in the season, against this caliber of opponent, Kansas City can’t risk the potential disaster of putting the ball in Hardman’s hands. I’m projecting he sees only a few snaps in this game, and when he’s on the field he’s used as a decoy or is running clear out routes with his vertical speed so Mahomes can target someone else. I know that’s what Chiefs fans want. Mecole Hardman Jr. UNDER 11.5 rush + receiving yards (-115).

Mike: I wouldn’t underestimate the awareness of the machine, as my Hardman projection for this weekend is almost identical to that line. Of course, if Kadarius Toney is sidelined again this week, I might lean closer to the over. After all, the Chiefs have made it clear that they are committed to shaky wide receiver play (aside of you, Rashee Rice). Anyway, I’m going to go simple for my second play with a very straight-up defensive prop that was a winner for us a few times during the regular season: Roquan Smith OVER 2.5 assists (-135). Smith has played 97% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps during 17 active games this season. Baltimore’s standout, every-down, off-ball linebacker averaged 4.5 assists during those games, having reached three in 15 of 17. That’s an 88% hit rate and makes the vig we’re getting on this pretty surprising. Expect Smith to rack up plenty of helpers against Kansas City. That’s it from me. Bring us home, Tyler!

Tyler: Take a look at the past five games the Detroit Lions have played and you’ll notice one column in the box score is particularly robust: opposing QB passing yards. Starting in Week 16 of the regular season, here are the numbers put up by QBs facing this Lions defense:

Week 16 – Nick Mullens: 22/36, 411 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
Week 17 – Dak Prescott: 26/38, 345 yards, 2 TD, INT
Week 18 – Nick Mullens: 30/44, 396 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Wild-card round – Matthew Stafford: 25/36, 367 yards, 2 TD
Divisional round – Baker Mayfield: 26/41, 349 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT

Given that 345 yards is the LOWEST amount allowed by Aaron Glenn’s defense over the past month, Man will happily bet on Brock Purdy OVER 276.5 passing yards. Purdy was far from his best against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, but the wet weather was a legitimate factor. It clearly affected his accuracy on more than a few throws.

Fortunately for the 49ers, the weather forecast for Sunday is pristine. It will be warm with no precipitation, providing optimal conditions for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Deebo Samuel’s potential absence is a concern, but even if he’s not available the Niners can still shred this pass defense. His availability would only be the cherry on top of the confidence in this play.


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