The single best football day of the year is almost here. Sunday is just three days away, and we’re locking in our favorite NFL props for championship weekend. Let’s dive into one of our favorite looks from the AFC title game.
The Kansas City Chiefs are hosting their fifth consecutive AFC title game this weekend. And, we’re lucky to get a rematch of last year’s thriller against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2023 edition of Patrick Mahomes vs. Joe Burrow kicks off at 6:30 ET.
There is a ton of value on Kansas City RB Isiah Pacheco in this contest. He’s been leading the Chiefs’ rushing attack for the last couple of months and should continue to do so on Sunday.
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NFL Props for Championship Weekend (1/29)
Isiah Pacheco Over 47.5 Rushing Yards (-114 @ FanDuel)
This line is simply too low for a runner as productive as Chiefs rookie RB Isiah Pacheco.
He took over as Kansas City’s rushing leader back in Week 10 and has been quite impressive. Since this date, Pacheco has seen 138 rushing attempts across 10 games, good for a healthy 13.8 carries per game. He even registered the 10th-most attempts in the NFL during this stretch.
However, a volume increase hasn’t ruined Pacheco’s rushing efficiency. In fact, it’s done the exact opposite. Out of 24 players with at least 100 carries since Week 10, Pacheco ranks second in yards per attempt. His speed and bruising running style have given Andy Reid‘s offense a major spark, and the rookie runner should be plenty involved with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Pacheco has finished with at least 58 rushing yards in 9 of his last 10 games, dating back to mid-November. He also notched 70-plus yards in five of these contests. And, he’s fresh off of a 95-yard performance on just 12 carries in last week’s Divisional Round win over Jacksonville.
The Rutgers product has averaged 72.8 rushing yards per game over these last ten. That’s a higher mark than any other player remaining in the postseason, besting each of Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, and Miles Sanders during this stretch.
However, Pacheco’s rushing line is the lowest out of these four players. Why might that be?
Well, former Chiefs first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire “has a chance” to make his return to the lineup this week, per Andy Reid. However Reid also said it was more likely TE Jody Fortson would be activated before Edwards-Helaire. Him being active is far from a sure thing.
Even if he does end up playing on Sunday, this shouldn’t worry us.
CEH was already being fazed out of the backfield mix before his ankle injury, and it’s unlikely he takes away many of the rookie’s touches given his incredible recent play. In Pacheco’s last two games with Clyde also active, he had 16 carries for 82 yards and 15 carries for 107 yards. We should see another 10-15 opportunities this week for the ultra-efficient runner.
Jerick McKinnon also had a larger than normal workload on the ground last week, however he ran for just 25 yards on 11 carries, not exactly making the case for more rushing work. We’ve seen his carries spike in other matchups too, only to fall back to lower levels in subsequent games. That increased share isn’t a lock.
Cincinnati’s defense has been incredible lately. But, their pass defense is much stronger than their run defense. And, with Patrick Mahomes hobbled, KC may call more runs to ease the load on their superstar QB.
Per expected points contributed, the Bengals’ defense ranked 15th against the run and 9th against the pass this season. They can be beaten on the ground, and Pacheco proved that when these teams met back in Week 13.
The 5’11”, 215-pound RB took 14 carries for 66 yards in a road loss to Cincy. But, with the Chiefs seeking revenge at home, this is an excellent spot for Pacheco to blow past this rushing total.
This number is just too low for a player who has been flying past it by double digits with regularity. There are some potential pitfalls being priced in, namely competition from his roster-mates, but it’s easy to make the case the market is overestimating that factor.