Bengals vs. Ravens Player Props: Isaiah Likely, Gus Edwards Picks
Todd Olszewski/Getty Images. Pictured: Gus Edwards.
- Sean Koerner has made his picks for Wild Card Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.
- Koerner has one pick for every game of Sunday's tripleheader, including two for Ravens vs. Bengals.
- Check out Koerner's NFL player props breakdowns below.
We have since gotten more clarity on some key injury situations throughout the weekend, most notably on Lamar Jackson and Mike Williams. Stay tuned to the Action App to see whether that lead me to another pick.
Below are picks that I would recommend for the weekend. I already bet Christian McCaffrey and Geno Smith props, but those lines have moved significantly since.
For my latest projections, click here.
Over 50.5 Rushing Yards (FanDuel)
If the Chargers decide to increase his workload at the expense of Joshua Kelley or Larry Rountree (which I don’t see why they wouldn’t do given the high stakes of a playoff game), Ekeler could end up with a few more rush attempts than usual. That gives him nice upside on rushing yards.
2) Both of these teams play at a fairly fast pace, and the Jaguars allow the fourth-most plays per game in the NFL. We could see elevated play volume for the Chargers, which would in turn increase Ekeler’s potential workload.
3) The Chargers are more likely to have a positive game script.
The betting market has them as 2.5-point favorites, as of Tuesday night, and I think a key factor will be the returning Joey Bosa against a shaky Jaguars offensive line. The Jaguars offense has struggled during this three-game winning streak. It doesn’t seem as likely that the Chargers will end up in a situation where they have to abandon the run.
4) Shawn Smith is the referee for this game, and his crew tends to call offensive holding at a very low rate. He’s averaging the second-fewest offensive holding calls per game this season and called the fewest such penalties per game last season.
Holding calls can be detrimental to a rushing prop because they often happen after a player rips off a big run. Those kinds of penalties can kill a drive and force teams into pass-heavy situations.
I’m going to lock this prop in now since it will likely go up as we near Saturday night’s kickoff. I’m projecting Ekeler for closer to 13 rush attempts with a median of 54.5 rushing yards. Given all of the factors listed above, I like his upside in the market.
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Over 16.5 Receiving Yards (BetMGM)
Gesicki has fared better with Skylar Thompson under center this season. He’s cleared this number in just six of 13 games with Tua Tagovailoa under center, but he’s cleared it in all four games with Thompson or Teddy Bridgewater, averaging 40 yards per game in those.
The underlying data suggests McDaniel makes Gesicki a bigger part of the offensive game plan without Tagovailoa. The tight end’s routes run rate jumps from 46% in Tua starts to 66% with either Bridgewater or Thompson.
Irv Smith Jr.
Under 16.5 Receiving Yards (BetMGM)
Smith has looked good since returning from injury, running a route on 34% of drop backs, but that was mostly due to T.J. Hockenson being limited to just a 43% routes run rate.
I expect Smith to be closer to a 20-25% routes run rate here, which would make it tough for him to clear this total.
I’m projecting Smith’s median closer to 10.5 receiving yards and would bet this down to 14.5.
Under 31.5 Rushing Yards (BetMGM)
The Bengals run defense is significantly better with early-down run stuffer D.J. Reader in the lineup. He missed Weeks 4-10 due to injury, and Cincinnati allowed the fifth-lowest EPA per rush attempt from Week 11 on. The Bengals also had the lowest broken/missed tackle rate.
Cincinnati has put the clamps on some quality running backs during that stretch, including Derrick Henry (17 rushes, 38 yards), Nick Chubb (14 rushes, 34 yards) and Rhamondre Stevenson (13 rushes, 30 yards).
It’s going to be tough for Edwards to clear this as Dobbins’ clear backup while also facing a potentially negative game script, with Cincinnati a clear favorite against the Ravens.
I’m projecting Edwards’ median closer to 25.5 rushing yards, but he has a very low floor in this spot.
Over 12.5 Receiving Yards (BetMGM)
Likely is a talented rookie tight end who has flashed massive upside this season.
While he’s Mark Andrews’ “backup,” Likely still gets a lot of playing time. Baltimore uses plenty of two-tight end sets and due to the Ravens’ WR room being one of the worst in the NFL, he’s essentially the team’s No. 2 wide receiver.
Likely has seen a target on 33% of routes run over the past three weeks, which is the third highest in the NFL.
Baltimore will lean on the run heavily early in this game, but it could be forced into a pass-heavy game script as big underdogs in Cincinnati.
I’m projecting Likely closer to 19.5 yards.