The first Monday Night Football game in Wild Card weekend history is a rubber match between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. The two teams split their regular season meetings and turnovers really decided both outcomes. Predicting turnovers is very hard and if we could all do it, we’d win a lot of bets.
The line movement has essentially pushed the spread to where it was when these teams first met at SoFi Stadium, with the Rams at -3.5. Arizona won that game 37-20, which looks like a pretty significant result, but the two teams were in the same area from a yards per play standpoint. The Rams got revenge in the desert later in the season in a game that basically put them in the driver’s seat to win the NFC West. Once again, turnovers decided the outcome.
What do you do with a game when the two teams are virtual equals and line equity seems limited? Well, you can default to the underdog under the pretense that home-field advantage is effectively worth about two points these days and the favorite is lined at 3.5. The other option is to try to find alternative ways to bet the game.
Live betting is one path to choose. Watch and wager once you see what is happening. Otherwise, you’re betting into a really tight line with millions and millions of other people that have put the line exactly where it should be. You can see if something fluky happens early in the game that allows you to get a good number on one side or the other or get a better line on the total.
The other option is to look at the prop betting market. Visualizing how the game is likely to play out can yield some really strong betting opportunities. It seems very unlikely that we have a lopsided result that alters the game state and forces a team into being one-dimensional on offense. Whatever the blueprint is should be how the playcalling goes for both teams.
With that in mind, there are a lot of prop bets we can consider at DraftKings Sportsbook, but here are a couple that I really like.
Pick: Matthew Stafford Under 35.5 Pass Attempts
Recently, the Rams have found something in the running game with Sony Michel. Over the last six games, the Rams have run 344 offensive plays and Michel has 129 carries. Stafford’s turnovers and bad decisions are probably a big reason why Sean McVay has looked more favorably upon the running game of late. Michel has had at least 20 carries in four of the six games (and at least 18 in the other two), so the Rams are clearly trying to establish the run.
In the first game against Arizona, the Rams were forced to throw more because they were trailing throughout. In the second game, Los Angeles had a lot more offensive balance.
Something that gets overlooked in the player props department is that there is a correlation from one prop to the next. For example, if I like Stafford under on pass attempts, that means I should like Michel over on rush attempts. You have the chance to look at the two props as independent events or to look at them as peas in a pod, so to speak.
Because this should be a close game throughout, I don’t think McVay will have to deviate from his vision for the game and his vision has recently featured a lot of Michel.
Pick: Matt Prater Over 6.5 Points
Both teams moved the ball effectively during the regular season meetings. The Cardinals had over six yards per play in each game, which was well above the season average allowed by the Rams. One thing that has been a challenge for Arizona (and was against the Rams) this season has been converting in the red zone.
The Cardinals were 14th in red zone efficiency during the season and the Rams had a top-10 defense in terms of preventing teams from scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Prater kicked three field goals in each of the previous head-to-head meetings, which illustrates how the Cardinals were able to move the ball, but didn’t always cash in. It would seem like this game will go the same way, as the Cardinals just match up well with the Rams and vice versa.
Prater’s line is a little lower than Matt Gay’s, so he gets the attention here, but it wouldn’t be a total shocker to see both kickers exceed their points prop.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA). 21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.