With just two weeks left on the NFL regular season, the playoff picture is finally becoming clear. As has been the case with the past couple of weeks, this week’s matchups are critical to teams trying to make a playoff push or stay alive in the playoff race. Two divisions in the AFC are up for grabs– the North and South– and every NFC division race is open except for the NFC North. With teams like the Saints and Steelers just one game away from clinching their divisions, it’s crunch time for everyone.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the most intriguing prop picks for Week 16’s action. There’s plenty of exciting matchups to choose from.
Player Prop Picks
Tom Brady: OVER 310.5 passing yards vs Lions (-110)
311 passing yards is a lot of yards to pick up, but Tom Brady has done so four times this season. He now gets the Detroit Lions, who are last in EPA allowed and 31st in dropback EPA allowed. Tampa fields the deepest group of pass catchers in the league, highlighted by Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, and faces a Detroit secondary who’s best corner (per PFF) is ranked 79th at the position.
The other added dimension to this figure is starting running back Ronald Jones isn’t expected to play this week. With the Buccaneers already throwing the football the second most in the league, this should be a week where Brady gets his. Tampa Bay is currently the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs and dropping their last two games could put them in danger of elimination. Brady knows what it takes to get the job done, and that’s going to be slinging it all over the yard this week.
DeAndre Hopkins: UNDER 79.5 receiving yards vs 49ers (-110)
The last time the Cardinals played the 49ers (Week 1), Nuk Hopkins nearly doubled this receiving total. Naturally, that means we’d take the over again, right? Not exactly– the 49ers were playing without top coverage corner Jason Verrett, PFF’s seventh-highest graded corner in the NFL. Instead, Hopkins was covered by Emmanuel Moseley, who’s been burned by some of the league’s top receivers this year.
While Richard Sherman (6’ 3”) is a better physical matchup for Hopkins, the Cardinals tend to scheme Hopkins away from Sherman. This time, his choice is Sherman or Verrett, neither of which provide an advantageous matchup for Hopkins. This year against top corners, Hopkins has pulled some disappearing acts; he’s been held to an average of 45.7 yards per game when faced against Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, and Jalen Ramsey.
Patrick Mahomes: OVER 326.5 passing yards vs Falcons (-110)
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Falcons would have been the easy pick for overs on passing props. Through Week 5, the Falcons were 31st in the NFL in dropback EPA allowed but since hiring Raheem Morris, they jumped to sixth. As good as Atlanta’s been since Week 6, Patrick Mahomes has been lethal. Over his past seven games, Mahomes is averaging 43 attempts per game for 366 yards and almost three touchdowns (2.9). He’s also playing this game without starting back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The Falcons’ defensive philosophy is built around using a lot of man-to-man and forcing the other team’s athletes into making plays. Fortunately for Mahomes, no one has more athletes capable of making plays than the Chiefs. Even if Atlanta decides to bracket Tyreek Hill, that leaves Travis Kelce– the NFL’s leading receiver– with one-on-one matchups, typically with slower linebackers and smaller safeties. No matter how you dice it, Atlanta is disadvantaged in the passing game.
Jonathan Taylor: OVER 55.5 rushing yards vs Steelers (-110)
The Steelers are one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL, sitting second in rush EPA allowed and first in overall defense DVOA. However, on the season, the Steelers sit eighth in rush EPA allowed, behind teams like Atlanta and San Francisco. Over the past four games, Taylor’s also been on a tear, averaging 103.5 yards per game on the ground.
If pit against Atlanta or San Francisco, it’s safe to think Taylor’s prop would be higher than 55.5 and those teams have statistically been stiffer against the run than the Steelers; even Seattle has a better yards-per-attempt-allowed metric on the year. This week’s rush total for Taylor is absolutely inflated on the name “Pittsburgh Steelers,” which should work for the casual bettor. This might be a layup this week.