Sunday Spreads Vol. 9: Return of the Running Back(s)
This is a pretty great year for running backs. As much as I think the MVP this year will be going to a Quarterback, there have been plenty of guys running the ball making top headlines. Derrick Henry is absolutely blasting through defenses on a weekly basis; Clyde Edwards-Helaire is making a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year; LeVeon Bell; LeVeon Bell saved his career by leaving the Jets. Here are my favorite prop bets for running backs this week in each major time slot, along with how I think their games will go against the spread.
All Game Times are in EST. All odds are according to the MGM Grand Sportsbook. Check your book for the latest odds.
1 PM-Panthers at Chiefs
It is this game from which today's post derives it's namesake. As much as the return of Christian McCaffrey should be celebrated by Panthers fans, it's unfortunate that it's going to be in a game where the Kansas City Chiefs are going to absolutely blow them out. The Panthers are currently on a three game losing streak facing off against one of the best teams in the league. They are surprisingly 4-0 ATS in their last four games as an underdog, but I can't see the Chiefs taking them down by less than two touchdowns; Mahomes is just way too hot right now.
Luckily, I think we'll see a good game from McCaffrey. It seems like the books are expecting a limited performance from the Stanford alum, which bodes well for bettors. I think Carolina is going to want to use McCaffrey to jolt their offense back up to speed, so expect him to hit the over on yards with plenty of time left to go in the game.
My Pick: Christian McCaffrey OVER rushing 50.5 yards (-106)
ATS: Chiefs -10 (-110)
4:25 PM-Steelers at Cowboys
About a week ago, I made a trade within the House Enterprise fantasy football league that rustled a few jimmies. I traded Ezekiel Elliot for Evan Engram and Marquise Brown. In a vacuum, that trade was absolutely ludicrous. The league's group chat quickly lit up with accusations of collusion, corruption, and overall tomfoolery. If I'm being totally honest, I agree that I probably lost that trade, but whatever. I still got Lamar.
Overall, Zeke has been pretty lackluster this season. Since Dak Prescott's injury, he has topped 50 yards in a game once, and hasn't scored a rushing touchdown. In a desperate Cowboys offense that is relying on Elliott to make up for their uncertainty behind center, Zeke has not been to competent.
James Conner for Pittsburgh, however, has been phenomenal this season. This week, against the worst rushing defense in the NFL, Conner has received one of his highest props for rushing yards. Considering Dallas' standing in this category, I fully expect Conner to exceed his average 15 carries per game easily. The fact that he's hit the over four times so far this year also makes this pick as close to a lock as possible.
With the NFC East in shambles, and the Cowboys at the forefront of this division's disaster, look for Pittsburgh to dominate both on the ground and in the air.
My Pick: James Conner OVER 78.5 rushing yards (-106)
ATS: Steelers -15.5 (-115)
Sunday Night Football: Saints at Buccaneers
This is a pretty great primetime matchup compared to what we got last week. When these two teams faced off in Week 1, we realized how blessed we truly are to see two of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time facing off in the same division. I think the Bucs are on track to take the South at this point in the season, but I do think that this matchup will stay great as long as these two QBs are still around. In terms of how this game is going to play out, I think it's going to be a close one. I'm going to give it to the Bucs, but the Saints are going to keep it within a touchdown as we see these two QBs duke it out for control over the all-time passing touchdown record.
Considering how great this matchup is behind center, it makes it a pretty tough bet for the ground game. Tampa RB Leonard Fournette has only hit triple digits in the rushing yards column once this season, and considering New Orleans' defense held him to just five yards in Week 1, I expect him to have a tough time again this week. The spread is pretty low for Fournette, but if you wanna play it risky, I'd go for it.
My Pick: Leonard Fournette UNDER 34.5 rushing yards (-110)
ATS: Saints +4.5 (-110)