The Alabama Crimson Tide will make their fifth National Championship Game appearance in the College Football Playoff era on Monday night. They are 2-2 in those games, but 0-4 against the spread. The Tide are listed as a nine-point favorite at most sportsbooks a day in advance of the game.
We’ve had three blowouts and three close games in the Playoff era. It’s anybody’s guess as to how this one plays out, but there are a lot of ways to attack the game from a betting standpoint. You aren’t limited to side and total with this one. Far from it.
Player props are available across the sports betting world and you can find a lot of edges by wagering on those markets because they are inherently higher variance than the spread and total for the game.
We’ve already taken a look at some player prop considerations for Ohio State, so now it is time to check out the lines for the Crimson Tide and their most important offensive personnel.
We’ll take the odds from DraftKings, BetMGM, and PointsBet to put pen to paper, or, well, fingers to keys, and see how things could play out in the title game. Remember that at least one team has scored 40 points in all but one of the previous six playoff games. Many will tell you that Alabama is the likelier of the two teams to do that in this one, so we could see some big days from the listed players.
Here are some Alabama player prop bets to consider for the Natty:
Mac Jones Passing Yards
DraftKings: 380.5 (-114/-114)
BetMGM: 365.5 (-110/-110)
PointsBet: 365.5 (-115/-115)
That is a big difference between DraftKings Sportsbook and the other operators. We saw the same with Justin Fields, as his line was 19 yards higher at DraftKings compared to the other two. It is very important with something like a prop betting market to compare lines and do some price shopping. If you like Mac Jones to go over, why would you bet over 380.5 when you can bet over 365.5? If you like under, why would you bet under 365.5 when you could have 380.5?
Some of these won’t be as obvious. You’ll see what we see at BetMGM and PointsBet with the same line, but different vig. The break-even rate at -110 is 52.38%. It is 53.49% at -115. Over your betting career, that extra 1.11% will come into play far more than you think. Find the best line and find the best vig with any market, but especially player props.
As far as the line itself, Mac Jones has gone over both of these lines six times this season. Given that there weren’t many games in which Alabama needed Jones in the second half, that is quite an impressive feat. Defenses in the SEC were not great this season at all. There are questions about Ohio State’s defense to say the least.
I just can’t fathom taking an over with a number this high. It wouldn’t be surprising for Jones to go over, especially if Alabama needs to throw more than expected or sees that as the way to beat Ohio State (it probably is). I honestly couldn’t make a play here on this total. Simply based on his volume this season, I’d lean under, but it’s not a strong lean at all.
Pick: Under 380.5 (-114, DraftKings)
Najee Harris Rushing Yards
DraftKings: 105.5 (-114/-114)
BetMGM: 105.5 (-110/-110)
PointsBet: 105.5 (-115/-115)
A lot of times, these prop bets come down to game state and a handicap of what the game plan will be. I think Ohio State can be beaten outside the hashes in the running game because they aren’t overly fast at linebacker and the corners don’t tackle extremely well. On the other hand, Alabama uses quick throws to Devonta Smith and maybe even Jaylen Waddle with his return as an extension of the running game.
Running it right at Ohio State seems counterintuitive here. The Buckeyes’ strength on defense is the defensive line. The Big Ten was a joke this season, but Ohio State did only allow 3.2 yards per carry and Clemson only had 22 carries for 44 yards in the semifinal. I don’t think putting the ball in Harris’s hands with running plays is the right plan of attack.
I’m expecting this to stay under, unless Alabama leads big in the second half and Harris ends up with 20+ carries. I just don’t see that being the focal point of the offense.
Pick: Under 105.5
This is honestly where a lot of the intrigue comes in. If Jaylen Waddle plays, how effective is he? Does he become more of a decoy than anything else? He may be more talented than Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, as ridiculous as that sounds.
I also believe that this is how Alabama gets the ball into the hands of Najee Harris. There are a lot of weapons for this Alabama passing attack.
DraftKings: 134.5 (-114/-114)
BetMGM: 134.5 (-110/-110)
PointsBet: 134.5 (-115/-115)
All three sportsbooks in our search here are lined the same, but the vig differences are very important. Smith will get his touches. He had 105 catches during the season. Even if Waddle returns and plays, this is easily Mac Jones’s favorite target in this game. Smith had seven games that would have gone over this total. He fell short in the Rose Bowl, despite 18.6 yards per catch.
I’d actually look over here. It’s not because of his matchup with Shaun Wade or anything, but simply that he rarely had to play a full 60 of being engaged in the offense and still put up numbers good enough to win the Heisman. He’s got a chance at double-digit catches for sure.
Pick: Over 134.5
DraftKings: 65.5 (-106/-124)
PointsBet: 65.5 (-109/-122)
BetMGM doesn’t have anything listed for Metchie, but this has to be an under consideration. If Waddle plays, he’s taking away some of Metchie’s targets. Furthermore, as I’ll talk about next, I really like Jahleel Billingsley and Najee Harris to be big factors in the passing game. There are only so many targets to go around.
Metchie’s production has been up and down throughout the season. Perhaps this is the game where he shows up in a big way, much like he did earlier in the season when Texas A&M took away Devonta Smith, but that was one of two big outlier performances.
Pick: Under 65.5
DraftKings: 47.5 (-105/-125)
BetMGM: 46.5 (-110/-110)
Jahleel Billingsley is not listed at PointsBet as of Sunday, but I’m sure he will be at some point. He’s labeled a tight end, but the sophomore runs like a wide receiver. He’s a huge target and Ohio State will struggle with him in the middle of the field with their linebackers and safeties. The linebackers are not fast, so they’ll have to cheat on Smith and Harris. I think this is the right kind of matchup for Billingsley to have a huge game.
He hasn’t had many of those and only had four catches for 39 yards against Notre Dame, but Alabama stopped running its offense in the second half. I would expect Billingsley to be matched up in a lot of single-coverage battles that he can win against the Buckeyes.
Pick: Over 46.5 (-110, BetMGM)
DraftKings: 37.5 (-105/-125)
BetMGM: 36.5 (-110/-110)
PointsBet: 37.5 (-115/-115)
Running on Ohio State’s defense will probably be pretty tough to do. The Buckeyes linebackers are good run stoppers and the defensive line is the strength of the team. You still want to put the ball in the hands of one of your best playmakers and Harris is one of those.
Harris didn’t go over this number a lot, but he didn’t have to. When he was needed against Florida, he had 67 receiving yards. Had he been needed more in the second half against Notre Dame, he’d have flown over this total. He had four catches for 30 yards and that was a game that was pretty much in control for the Tide. I’d be surprised if Steve Sarkisian and the Alabama coaches have not seen this as a mismatch against Ohio State’s linebackers.