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Odds to Lead NFL Divisional Round in Rushing: Ezekiel Elliott Favored

David Golokhov

by David Golokhov in NFL Football

Jan 9, 2019 · 3:40 PM PST

Ezekiel Elliott Cowboys RB
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards in the Cowboys Wild Card victory over the Seahawks. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)
  • Ezekiel Elliott is a +175 favorite to lead the NFL in rushing in the divisional round
  • Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon are fighting through knee injuries
  • Marlon Mack might be the best bet this weekend

As we gear up for the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL Playoffs, oddsmakers have posted a prop on who’ll be the leading rusher this weekend.

Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing yards, is the heavy favorite, but is he the best bet? Let’s take a closer look at the odds.

Odds to Record Most Rushing Yards in Divisional Round

Player Odds
Ezekiel Elliott +175
Todd Gurley +300
Marlon Mack +450
Melvin Gordon +450
Sony Michel +900
Mark Ingram +1000
Alvin Kamara +1100
Damien Williams +1600
Spencer Ware +1600
Wendell Smallwood +2500

*Odds taken 1/9

Should Ezekiel Elliott Be Such A Heavy Favorite?

Although it might surprise some people, the short answer is ‘yes’.

Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards this season and he’s squaring off with a defense that allowed the most yards per carry (5.1) this season. Though it may be hard to believe, considering the Rams have two elite run-stuffers in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, the defense really struggled to stop the run.

That was even more evident in the team’s three losses, as the Rams gave up 148.7 rushing yards per game in those three contests.

Also keep in mind that the Cowboys gameplan will be to pound the rock, control the clock, and keep the Rams explosive offense on the sidelines.

Elliott has had at least 18 rush attempts in his last seven games, so he should get ample opportunity. The only question is if the Rams can stop him.

The challenge here is that Zeke only pays +175, and with the Rams entire defensive gameplan expected to be focused around stopping him, he might not be the best bet.

Who Else Should You Avoid?

If you’re looking for value, there isn’t much with Zeke. However, there are some other backs that are probably not a good option either.

Todd Gurley (+300) is a stud who finished with 1,251 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, but he’s been banged up. He hasn’t played in nearly a month while dealing with a knee issue.

The fact that he’s still being monitored is a concern. He’s expected to practice on Wednesday, but even if he plays, it’s not a good matchup and he could be limited.

The same goes for Melvin Gordon (+450), who is fourth in line according to the odds. While he’s expected to play, he’s also dealing with a knee injury that will hinder him.

Going up against the Patriots, who allowed just 98.6 rushing yards per game at home (8th in NFL), along with the fact that he hasn’t rushed for 100+ yards since November 4th, makes him a hard pass.

Lastly, I’m going to avoid the split-situations as well as they could hurt each other.

Alvin Kamara (+1100) and Mark Ingram (+1000) will both get touches, and the Chiefs will ride the hot hand between Damien Williams (+1600) and Spencer Ware (+1600), although Williams probably gets the first shot.

Who Is The Best Value?

Marlon Mack (+450) seems like a great bet this week.

The Colts are coming off a 200-yard rushing game against the Houston Texans last week. That Texans rush defense led the NFL in yards per carry allowed (3.44) this season.

Mack has now surpassed 119 rushing yards in three of his last four games. He’s playing behind an elite offensive line and is facing a Chiefs defense that was 31st in YPC allowed. He looks like a great value play.

Another good bet is Sony Michel (+900). Based on the process of elimination, he’s pretty much the only other option.

He’s got a tough matchup this week against a rugged Chargers defense, but Michel did average 4.7 yards per carry at home this season. The Patriots passing game isn’t what it used to be – especially with Rob Gronkowski slowing down and Josh Gordon out – so it’s possible the Pats try to lean on their first-round pick.

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