Raybon: How to Bet Rams Receiving Props Based on Patriots’ Gameplan
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods
- The Patriots have long been known for taking away their opponent's top receiver, but lately, they've contained elite receiving duos.
- Chris Raybon breaks down how they do it and what their likely plan will be against Robert Wood and Brandin Cooks.
- There are also four prop bets to exploit based on the Patriots' recent track record against top receivers.
The Bill Belichick-coached New England Patriots have long been known to try and take away the opponent’s No. 1 receiving option. But in the first 11 weeks of 2018, they were inconsistent at it.
Sure, they held DeAndre Hopkins to an inconsequential 8-78-0 performance in a Week 1 victory over the Texans, erased Allen Robinson (5-1-4) in a Week 7 defeat of the Bears then limited DaVante Adams (6-40-1) in a Week 9 win against the Packers.
But there was also Keelan Cole’s 7-116-1 eruption in a Week 2 loss to the Jaguars — back when Cole was still being considered a No. 1 and, you know, actually playing at all — Corey Davis’ 7-125-1 performance in the Week 10 loss to the Titans and, of course, who could forget Tyreek Hill’s 7-142-3 monster effort in what ended as a 43-40 win for the Patriots in Week 6?
Since the bye, though? Bruh. The Patriots aren’t only shutting down opposing No. 1 options — they’re also completely stymieing No. 2s.
Let me rephrase that: They’re shutting down elite No. 1 and No. 2 options.
It’s borderline unfair.
Stat lines below are in targets-catches-yards-touchdowns format. Season averages (including postseason) are in parenthesis.
- Adam Thielen: 10-5-28-1 (9.6-7.1-86-0.6)
- Stefon Diggs: 5-5-49-0 (9.9-6.8-68-0.6)
- Antonio Brown: 7-4-49-1 (11.2-6.9-87-1.0)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: 10-4-40-0 (10.4-6.9-89-0.4)
- Tyreek Hill: 3-1-42-0 (8.5-5.3-89-0.7)
- Travis Kelce: 5-3-23-1 (9.2-6.3-82-0.6)
Collectively, the Patriots held those six players — all of whom, mind you, finished in the top 18 in receptions per game during the regular season, including five in the top 11 — to 2.8 catches and 45 yards below their season average, with none matching their season average in either category.
In between, New England continued to do its normal shutting down of No. 1s.
Robby Anderson came into his matchup against the Patriots averaging 6.0 receptions over four games and caught three balls against them. No Dolphin except Kenny Stills caught more than one pass in Week 14. And even though Keenan Allen went for 75 yards and a score in the Divisional Round, he was held to two catches — 3.7 under his season average.
The implications are clear: Bet on reduced volume for high-volume receivers facing the Patriots.
There are obviously some prop bets to attack — which I will get to — but first…
How Do The Patriots Do It?
Against a team with only one top threat, it’s simple: Shadow with Stephon Gilmore. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft has had an absurdly good season, allowing only 44 catches for 563 yards on 100 targets overall, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gilmore’s 18 pass break-ups over the regular season cleared everyone else in the league by five.
Against offenses with more than one threat, Belichick will almost never use Gilmore on the No. 1. Belichick understands that offense beats defense in this league, and doesn’t want to waste his best cornerback in the matchup that he is least likely to win when there are other receivers to also contain.
He also understands that a defense can take away anything it wants by devoting extra bodies, so long as it’s willing to concede one-on-one matchups in space elsewhere.