Two player props to get us started in NFL playoffs: Best Bets for Jan. 14

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) celebrates with wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Saturday, Jan. 14:


The play: NFL playoffs, Seahawks at 49ers, Elijah Mitchell OVER 38.5 yards rushing

The odds/bet: -115 ($34.50 to win $30)

The book: BetMGM

Time/TV: 4:30 p.m. (Fox)

Our take: Betting the spread or the total is tricky with the 49ers favored by a big 9-point spread and the weather in the Bay Area expected to be rainy. But if you want action on the NFL playoff opener, we’ve got a good possibility for you here.

Mitchell has been injured most of the season, so we’re dealing with a small sample size — but that may actually be depressing this line lower than it should be. In the five games that Mitchell has played, he went over this total four times, including three of four after the Niners acquired Christian McCaffrey. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has made no secret of the fact that he like Mitchell, a former UL star.

McCaffrey is going to get his touches, and his over 73½ yards rushing isn’t a bad play, either, but against a bad Seattle run defense and with the weather likely dictating a conservative game plan, expect Mitchell to get somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to 10 carries. At 6.2 yards per carry this season, that translates into a comfortable win on this total.


The play: NFL playoffs, Chargers at Jaguars, Keenan Allen OVER 80.5 yards receiving

The odds: -110

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

Our take: We’re going back to the prop market on what might be the most fun game of Super Wild Card Weekend — in fact, the over 47.5 is absolutely worth a shot here, too, either by itself or as part of a single-game parlay.

But for the best bet, we’ll go with Allen to get into the 80s and beyond on his receiving yards. For one thing, as mentioned, this game should be a shootout, with both teams moving the ball downfield. For another, Mike Williams is out for the Chargers with a back injury suffered in the regular-season finale at Denver. Say what you will about L.A. coach Brandon Staley playing his starters in a game that didn’t mean anything, but it works to our advantage here — Allen is the receiver left who Justin Herbert trusts the most.

What’s more, Jacksonville’s top defense against the Chargers is going to be their pass rush, which means Herbert must get the ball out quickly. Allen just so happens to be a slot receiver who doesn’t often go deep but runs an exceptional route tree. He’s going to be open, and Herbert is going to him often.

He went over this total six times in eight games since returning from injury, and there’s no reason to expect that’ll stop in the Chargers’ most important game in years.


Friday’s best bets

NBA: Timberwolves -4.5 over Suns (WON)

NCAA men’s basketball: Illinois -6.5 over Michigan State (WON)

Friday’s record: 2-0

Total for the week: 7-3

Total for January: 16-9

Total for 2023: 16-9

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).


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