Super Bowl Prop Picks: The Running Backs

Leigh Copson:

These two teams are known for their aerial assaults on opposition defenses, but that is not to say that they are week when it comes to the running game. Both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have talented running backs on the roster, but can any of them make an impression during Super Bowl 55?

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Not many negative things can be said about this high-powered Kansas City offense, but if you are looking for one at a stretch then perhaps the absence of a 1,000-yard rusher is something you can point to. Last season they relied on Damian Williams and LeSean McCoy to share the load as neither man surpassed 500 yards on the ground over the course of the campaign. That was enough to help to Super Bowl glory and perhaps this year they have finally found the man to take their run game to new heights over the next few years

Clyde Edwards-Helaire exited the college ranks with a great deal of excitement surrounding him and his rookie season has been a big success despite a lack of 100-yard games on the ground. He fell short of the 1,000-yard mark in the regular season, but he did surpass 800 yards while proving himself to be a threat in the passing game too to at least pass 1,000 all-purpose yards. Patrick Mahomes, Le’Veon Bell, Darrel Williams and Tyreek Hill also played their part on the ground, but if there is one stand-out back for KC on Sunday it is Edwards-Helaire.

And what about Tampa Bay? We know Bruce Arians loves to air it out and take shots in the passing game, but efforts were made to bolster the ground game this season with Leonard Fournette coming in to compliment third-year back Ronald Jones II.

However, Fournette may have just played himself into the feature back role during the Buccaneers’ run to the Super Bowl. The former Jacksonville Jaguar saw his touches increase when Jones went down with injury and then illness late in the season, and despite his team-mate’s return in recent weeks the Bucs have continued to lean more towards Fournette in the run game. If that trend continues on Sunday then he will have an opportunity to make an impact on this huge matchup. But will he?

Super Bowl Betting Tips: Performance Predictions

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

As I said before, Edwards-Helaire is the stand-out back as far as numbers are concerned, but let’s not get carried away here. He is not going to have a monster day for the Chiefs because this offense is simply not built for that to happen. He will, however, have an opportunity to make some plays and I expect him to have some moments of success in both the run game and the passing game. Edwards-Helaire has passed the 28.5-yard rushing mark in 11 of his 14 appearances this season to average 57.8 yards per game on the ground, and he has also passed the 18.5-yard receiving mark on six occasions to average 21.2 yards receiving per game. That makes the 2/1 available for him to go for 29 or more yards rushing and 19 or more yards receiving a tempting bet, while I am also drawn to him seeing at least three targets in the passing game. He has been targeted three or more times by Patrick Mahomes just once in his last four games, but Edwards-Helaire has proven prior to that that he can make plays with his hands if called upon.

Leonard Fournette

Fournette’s numbers over the past couple of months hardly leap off the page – he has not had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 2 – but he has been a consistent performer for the Buccaneers since the playoffs got underway. He played a starring role in the win over Washington as he ran for 93 yards and a score, while adding another 39 yards receiving, and while his numbers have calmed down in consecutive games he has still played his part in those excellent road wins in New Orleans and Green Bay. Those performances have seemingly moved him ahead of Ronald Jones II in the depth chart so we can expect to see Fournette get plenty more touches on Sunday as Tampa perhaps try to control the clock and keep Mahomes & Co. off the field as much as possible. Kansas’ run defense cannot be considered elite so Fournette is certainly good value for at least 49 yards rushing for the fourth game running, while he has passed the 25.5 yard receiving mark in three of his last five games and could become a consistent option for Brady if the veteran QB needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly in the face of the Kansas pass rush which battered away at Josh Allen in the AFC Championship Game.

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