The NFL Playoffs continue this weekend with some exciting matchups in the divisional round. Fans are certainly going to have to put their football intelligence to the test this weekend if they are going to place any bets on the winners. But that isn’t the only way they can bet.
Most books will carry a variety of prop bets fans can wager on. One of the more entertaining and challenging ones can be found at Bovada.lv—who is going to record more sacks?
Wil lit be the Minnesota Vikings? or…
Will it be the San Francisco 49ers?
The odds favor the Vikings to have more (-160) than the 49ers (+120). That translate into a 61.54 chance for the Vikings and a 45.45 percent chance for the 49ers. So, neither team is an overwhelming favorite or underdog—and neither should be.
They finished the regular season tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks with 48. Clearly, both are pretty good at rushing the passer.
San Francisco was led by Arik Armstead with ten sacks but had 12 different guys record at least one full sack (two recorded a half sack). Danielle Hunter led the way for the Vikings with 14.5. They had 11 guys record at least one full sack (and two that recorded a half sack).
Minnesota has the sack leader between the two, but the 49ers have more guys with at least five sacks (four, relative to three for the Vikings).
On the injury front, the Vikings list Linval Joseph (who had three sacks during the regular season) as questionable. The 49ers have one of the better pass rushers on the injury report, Dee Ford (six and a half sacks) and Kentavius Street (no sacks this season). It remains to be seen how much any of them will play.
It also bears noting that the 49ers have one lineman dealing with a neck injury Mike Person. While he is expected to try to power through it, that can be tough with neck injuries.
So—how do you pick a winner?
Well, as much as you need to consider the track records and production potential for each side, you also have to consider the offensive lines trying to stop them.
The 49ers did a decent job of protecting Jimmy Garoppolo this season; they rank 21st in sacks allowed with 36 on the season. They ranked even better when it came to hits allowing just 73 on the season, good enough for 25th.
But the Vikings did a little better in both stats letting guys sack Kirk Cousins 28 times (28th) and hit him on 68 times (28th).
So, they are both really good at rushing the passer and protecting the passer—but the best bet here may be Minnesota. Not because the Vikings are that much better at rushing the passer and protecting him but because they are more likely to lean on the run game.
Statistically speaking, the 49ers ran the ball a little bit more than the Vikings and with a little more success. But the Vikings seem more likely to commit to the run and make it work than the 49ers. It, of course, helps that Minnesota has a marquee running back in Dalvin Cook while the 49ers use a committee approach.
So, it is more likely the 49ers are not going to get the same opportunity to record sacks as the Vikings.