The second half of the NFL regular season gets underway this week and Sunday’s slate is filled with a number of great matchups. One of the best ways to add even more action to the games is to place a few extra bets on any of the various player and team props that have been released in conjunction with some of the top storylines in the league. I have dug deep into the stats, facts and trends for two of these special props to uncover the best value in the betting odds.
Miami Dolphin’s Jay Ajayi Total Rushing Yards
The Miami Dolphins are the seventh-best rushing team in the NFL through the first eight weeks solely on the strength of second-year running back Jay Ajayi’s last two games. After rushing for 204 yards on 25 carries in Miami’s 30-15 victory against Pittsburgh in Week 6, he posted another 214 yards on 28 carries in the following week’s 28-25 win at home against Buffalo. Prior to that, he had only run the ball 31 times for 117 yards in the Dolphins’ first five games.
The betting odds that he gains more than 70.5 yards this Sunday against the New York Jets have been set at -120 with the same betting money line that his rushing total stays UNDER this number.
The rational for such a low number of rushing yards after his back-to-back plus 200-yard days has to lie in the fact that the Jets have the No. 1 ranked defense in the league against the run. Through their first eight games, this unit is allowing an average of just 74 rushing yards a game. The flipside to this picture is that New York is ranked 31st in the league against the pass. To me, this sets up a play on the UNDER 70.5 yards in this prop with Ryan Tannehill and the Miami passing game fully exploiting this weakness at the expense of the running game this week.
Seattle Seahawks Total Rushing Yards
Seattle’s success over the past few years has been built around a power running game and a shutdown defense. The Seahawks’ defense is as stout as ever with a points-against average of 15.6 that is ranked second in the NFL. The running game has been a different story with an average of just 81.4 yards a game that is ranked 28th in the league.
The betting odds on Seattle’s total rushing yards in this Monday night’s home matchup against Buffalo have a -200 money line for OVER 100 yards and a +150 line for UNDER 100.
One of the main reasons why Seattle has struggled to run the ball this season can be tied to the loss of its lead back Thomas Rawls. He went down in Week 2 with a leg injury and he remains out indefinitely. Quarterback Russell Wilson has also been a big part of the run game in the past, but a number of nagging injuries has hampered his mobility for most of the season. The Seahawks’ leading rusher has been Christine Michael with 448 rushing yards on 107 attempts for an average of 4.2 yards a carry. In last Sunday’s stunning 25-20 loss to New Orleans as a one-point road favorite, Seattle gained just 74 yards on the ground with Michael held to 40 yards on 10 carries behind a very shaky offensive line.
This Monday night the Seahawks face a Bills’ defense that is allowing an average of 118.4 yards a game which is probably why the betting odds for this prop favor the OVER, but I still cannot see Seattle getting past the century mark on the ground given the current state of its running game.