As the second quarter of the NFL season begins, we have a huge swing game in the suddenly resurgent and physical NFC West. And here’s the kicker: The game doesnt involve the San Fransisco 49ers. Instead it’s the unbeaten and Kevin Kolb-led Arizona Cardinals taking to the road, trying to stay perfect, against the 2-2 Rams. This was supposed to be a 49er runaway in this division, but so far the Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks have all looked better than expected. That said, 3-1 San Fran remains expensive chalk to win the division. Current odds still show the 49ers as -300 (bet $300 to win $100) to take the west, while the still perfect Cardinals are +300. The Seahawks and Rams remain longshots at +1000 and +1800 respectively. But we’re a little bullish on the Rams these days. We won on them last week against the Seahawks. Will we take them tonight? I think I might. Home team, underdog, against a team thats getting love from all corners of the NFL punditry right now. The Cards seem ripe for a fall. But no trigger has been pulled yet. Current lines show Arizona a 2-point favorite with the Over/Under nestled at 39.5. Sounds like a defensive fight. Want more proof of that? The prop for longest TD scored tonight is 38.5 yards. We rarely see anything below 40 on that one. Speaking of props, lets get right too it and take a look at tonight’s player prop board.
Kevin Kolb, Over/Under 19.5 completions, 230.5 passing yards, 1.5 TDs…..Kolb was put into the fray in the second half of Week One, replacing an ineffective Jamie Skeldon, and the Cards havent looked back since. However, Kolb has not been much of a stat sheet stuffer. Only in the last outing against Miami has he gone over the completion and yardage prop set for tonight. Until then, he hadnt had more than 17 completions or 222 yards since taking over the QB1 slot this year. He has tossed two and three scores in back to back weeks, so he’s been running hot lately as far as points in the passing game are concerned. I dont know if we can expect much of a stat sheet stuffing effort this evening against a solid Rams pass D. Outside of the second half in the opener against the Lions, the Rams have been excellent at pass defense. They’re 11th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and in the last three games have only allowed 169 yards a game to RGIII, Jay Cutler and Russell Wilson. Kolb is probably in the middle of those three ability wise. I think the Cards are better off with Kolb, but I still dont relish the idea of relying on him to win any stat props.
Larry Fitzgerald, Over/Under 5.5 catches, 75.5 receiving yards…….Fitzgerald’s machup with Rams DB Cortland Finnegan is truly one to watch. After a slow start to the season with just five total catches through two games, Fitzgerald has caught fire the last two weeks with games of 8 and 9 catches while averging 89 receiving yards. But he’s still only gone over tonight’s yardage bar once this season. Last year, he only cleared more than 5.5 catches six times and 75.5 yards eight times. He’s an elite receiver whose been playing the last several seasons with a bag of Alpo as his QB. Tonight, he goes against a team that he’s killed over his career. In 16 games against the Rams, Fitz has 91 catches for 1,190 yards, which, conveniently average out to exactly the prop totals listed tonight. He does have 13 career TDs against the Rams, so if you can find a prop on him scoring a TD tonight, I say go ahead and grab it. My favorite Fitz stat is that despite being near the top of the league in targets, he only has one dropped pass since the beginning of last year. So, if you’re on these overs tonight, at least Fitz wont lose them for you.
Andre Roberts, Over/Under 3 catches, 46.5 receiving yards….Roberts attended college a the Citadel. I say that in case you want to impress anybody tonight with that morsel of trivia. He might not be a big name yet, but the Rams cant lose sight of Roberts while focusing a lot of defensive energy on Fitzgerald. He came up huge in the second half last week against Miami with a pair of scores as the Cards came from behind to stay undefeated. His six catches tied a career high and his 118 yards was a career high. He’s had at least 54 yards in three of four games this year, has had more than three catches twice and exactly three catches once. Only his bizarre one catch for two yard effort in the Cards upset over new England is the one statline where he would have gone under both these totals in a game. Otherwise, he’s 5-0-1 going over these totals this year. He broke out with a 51-catch season a year ago, his second in the league, going over tonight’s yardage total six times and tonight’s catch total seven times, while equalling three other times.
Early Doucet, Over.Under 2.5 catches, 28.5 receiving yards….Doucet didnt register a stat in the Week 3 win over the Eagles. But he had at least 3 catches in the other contests and had more than 28.5 receiving yards in two of those three games. Heading into the season, Doucet has gone over this catch total 12 times in his last 26 games and the yardage number 15 times. Both these numbers seem low and more than manageable for the fifth year LSU product. But with Fitz being Fitz, Roberts’ continued emergence and the Cards goal of getting rookie Michael Floyd invovled, the fear would be Doucet getting lost in the shuffle and not getting enough balls thrown his way.
Sam Bradford, Over/Under 19.5 completions, 224.5 passing yards, 1.5 TDs……Are the Rams playing Washington tonight? I ask that because the only time Bradford has gone over any of these totals were in that Week 2 win over the Skins when he went over on all three of tonight’s listed totals. He’s gone under in everything in the other three games. In 30 career games, he’s had more than 19.5 completions 15 times and more than 224.5 passing yards 12 times. However, ten and eight of those instances came in his 2010 rookie year. He also had six games of at least two TD passes in that rookie since. He’s only had one such game since.
Steven Jackson, Over/Under 65.5 rushing yards……..For one of the best tailbacks in the game, this sure does seem like a low total. But he hasnt had more than 58 yards in any ame yet this year, is hobbled with a groin injury and for the third straight week will be a game time decision for the Rams. Translation: Dont get suckered in by this low number. I say pass. If he explodes tonight and shows he’s healthy, there will be other games this year to gamble and win on a Jackson rushing prop.
Danny Amendola, Over/Under 5.5 catches, 69.5 receiving yards……Bradford doesnt have anything like Fitzgerald or any other obvious impact WR to play pitch and catch with. However, Amendola has emerged statistically as the Rams top wideout. He has 31 catches, three times as anyone else on the Rams and his 44 targets is more than double anyone else on the team. He’s averaging 7.75 catches and 87.8 yards a game through the first quarter of the season. But he’s only 5-3 combined against these numbers. I say only because I would have guess a record a bit better than that based on his season averages so far. Twice, he’s had five catches, so he’s been close a lot in his misses. He only played in one game last year before a season ending injury. He had an 85-catch year in 2010 when he caught more than 5.5 catches in eight of 16 games. But he only had n 8.1 average per catch and went for at least 70 yards only once. But its been a more productive Amendola, helped by a more experienced Bradford at QB than in 2010, this season.
Brandon Gibson, Over/Under 2.5 catches, 32.5 receiving yards….Gibson had four catches in the opener, but exactly two grabs in each of the three games since. He had 51 and 54 yards in weeks one and two, but just 47 combined yards in the two games since. He’s 3-5 against these totals this year. A year ago, he went over both of these totals seven times. But that was without Amendola in the lineup as Bradford’s far-and-away top target. It’s always tough to get me to bite on WR overs when the player like this is such a secondary target.
Lance Kendricks, over/Under 2 catches, 21.5 receiving yards……On one hand, Kendricks has won more than lost on the Overs on tonight’s props. On the other hand, he’s pushed as much as he’s won with three games with exactly two catches. Overall, he’s 3-2-2 against these numbers at the quarter mark. He’s third on the team in targets, but again, like Gibson, his chances are still limited while Bradford has a honing device on Amendola. In his rookie season a year ago, he had five games with at least three catches and seven efforts of more than 21.5 yards. He had several 2-catch games a year ago. For his career, he would be 6-7-6 on the Over 2 catches.