Jay Ajayi

Super Bowl LII Prop Bets

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Oddsmakers have Super Bowl LII covered from every angle, and that includes the halftime show. There is all manner of betting speculation around Justin Timberlake being the featured halftime show performer, 14 years after the infamous “Nipplegate” incident with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XVIII.

With the game in Minneapolis, hometown of Prince, it seems obvious that JT will cover a song by the Twin Cities’ favorite son, which pays out at -140 on the Super Bowl LII props at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total on Janet Jackson references is 1.5, with the over at even money; it’s hard to think Al Michaels could resist one mention.

The Philadelphia Eagles, with Nick Foles, are the first team in 27 years to reach the Super Bowl after losing their starting quarterback in December. It’s -150 on injured Carson Wentz being mentioned more than 3.5 times.

But oddsmakers also clearly expect the announcers to build a storyline around the New England Patriots, as it’s -130 for separate props on whether owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick will be mentioned or shown on-screen before their Eagles counterparts, Jeff Lurie and Doug Pederson respectively. Belichick is -125 to wear a blue shirt at kickoff time, since he wore that color during New England’s past two Super Bowl shows.

More than half of Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks and Tom Brady is a -110 favorite while Nick Foles comes back at +350. It would probably take something on order of a three-touchdown day to wrest the honor from the winning QB, so both the Patriots’ Dion Lewis (+1800) and Eagles’ Jay Ajayi (+1800) are worthy darkhorse picks.

History is not on the side of Rob Gronkowski (+900) since a tight end has never been the game MVP, but Gronk does offer immense value at +400 to score the first Patriots touchdown.

It is +300 on any quarterback passing for 400 or more yards. The strength of the Eagles defense and the run-pass balance of Philadelphia’s offense makes that result look far-fetched.

There was no Gatorade bath for Belichick after Super Bowl LI, which the Patriots won in overtime, but he was doused with orange Gatorade after Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It is +225 that the liquid poured on the winning coach will be either green, lime or yellow, with +250 for orange, +275 for red and +275 for clear/water.

Clear and orange have been the result four times apiece in the last 15 occurrences and red has not come up. Purple (+1000) has also been used four of the last 15 times and it would be ironic if it happens again, since that is the color of the host Vikings.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Eagles have bought into team-first approach

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Winning is an easy sell.

The Philadelphia Eagles are the first team since the 1990 New York Giants to reach a Super Bowl without a player totaling 1,000 scrimmage yards though running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith have done so in the past.

That group plus Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, wide receiver Nelson Agholor and others have bought into a team-first, unselfish concept. They’re not checking their stats after games. The only number they cared about all season was the win column.

One more against New England in the Super Bowl brings home the team’s first NFL title since 1960.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“I think this group of guys is as good as you could ask to be around,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Really, the character and the work ethic, the camaraderie, just the commitment to the process that Coach (Doug Pederson) and our staff is always talking about. There’s a complete buy-in.

“It really helps that we’ve had the success and the execution. It’s always easier to buy in when you’re having the success that we’ve had.”

Blount didn’t even get a carry in a loss at Kansas City in Week 2. Then he ran for a season-high 136 yards two weeks later at the Chargers. It was the only 100-yard rushing performance by Philadelphia this season.

Blount, who led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns with New England last year, led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing but his touches decreased after Ajayi was acquired from Miami.

“You can’t be selfish when everybody has one common goal,” Blount said. “You have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team. We’ve done that and it’s gotten us this far.”

Ajayi came to Philadelphia with a reputation for selfishness, but it hasn’t been an issue. He kneeled on the turf and sobbed after the Eagles beat Minnesota in the NFC championship game.

“It’s a special feeling to not be done and to still have our goal of winning a Super Bowl right there in front of us,” he said.

Jeffery was the go-to man in Chicago before joining the Eagles. He didn’t have one 100-yard game, but led the team with nine TD catches.

“We’re not looking at numbers, just going out there and playing,” Jeffery said. “No matter who’s out there having a great game, or whoever the ball’s going to, as long as we’re doing our job and just catching and working and getting those wins, that’s all that matters.”

There were no “throw me the damn ball” moments in Philadelphia’s locker room.

“I didn’t have to sell it too much,” Pederson said. “These guys are unselfish players. They are team players. I think any time that you factor in the wins, and they’re contributing to the wins, it sort of minimizes or sort of takes away the (idea) that, `I’ve got to have 1,000 yards; I got to have 10 touchdowns; I’ve got to rush for this many yards and have this many touchdowns.’ I think it minimizes that a little bit, because the team is doing well and the success of the offense.”

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

Ajayi ready to give Eagles a ride on Jay Train vs. Falcons

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jay Ajayi is rested, refreshed and ready.

The Philadelphia Eagles can jump aboard the Jay Train when they host Atlanta in an NFC divisional playoff Saturday and try to ride Ajayi to the conference title game.

Ajayi will see his first action in 19 days when he lines up against the Falcons (11-6). He sat out the final game before enjoying his third bye week of the season – one with Miami and two with Philadelphia (13-3).

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“I feel really good, like, I feel really good,” said Ajayi, who has been bothered by knee issues. “No. 1 seed team with an opportunity to go get a Super Bowl. I’m grateful, I’m blessed, I’m excited for this opportunity because it’s all in front of us and if we really take advantage of what we want to do and execute how we can, we can get it done.”

Two weeks before he joined the Eagles, Ajayi ran for 130 yards in Miami’s 20-17 win over Atlanta on Oct. 15. He hasn’t carried the ball as much in Philadelphia, but he might have to be a workhorse this week.

“Same guys. My mentality hasn’t changed,” Ajayi said. “My mindset is always downhill, attacking, try to punish guys. One-on-one, it’s all about not being tackled.”

Ajayi was the main man in Miami, averaging 20 carries per game. He had 465 yards rushing, an average of 3.4 yards and no touchdowns. Last year, Ajayi went to the Pro Bowl after running for 1,272 yards, including three 200-yard games.

After coming to Philly, he adjusted to being part of a rotation. Ajayi shared the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Cement and didn’t get more than 15 carries in any game following the trade.

Ajayi finished with 408 yards rushing, one touchdown and an average of 5.8 yards per carry in seven games for the Eagles. Blount led the team with 766 yards rushing and Clement had 321.

The offense sputtered in the last two games with Nick Foles at quarterback. Relying on Ajayi’s running can help take pressure off Foles.

“I’m excited. I’m already a round further than I’ve been in my career,” said Ajayi, who had 33 yards rushing in a wild-card loss to Pittsburgh last year. “For the guys who’ve been to the playoffs and lost, those memories of getting bounced should definitely fuel you. You should have that chip, want to get there and want to bring it home and that starts this Saturday.”

The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in their first playoff game. The sixth-seeded Falcons are 3-point favorites.

“It’s not insulting. That’s the story line right now,” Ajayi said . “Without 11 (Carson Wentz), we’re nothing basically. That’s what we’ve been hearing. We’re excited to come out Saturday and showcase what we can do.”

It’s starts with getting aboard the Jay Train. Ajayi loves the nickname that he earned at Boise State. He even wears a gold train pendant on his chain.

“The Jay Train is always out,” he said.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi