Beating the Spread: Super Bowl Picks and Props
Welcome to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. On the QB List podcast earlier this week I said that this was the matchup we deserved as fans because if you’re at all a football nerd like me, you want to see two teams running on all cylinders colliding in the biggest game of the year. I can’t remember the last Super Bowl I was this excited for from a pure matchup standpoint.
Obviously, the last game of the year means it’s the last betting column of the year. Overall, the team has not done well in the playoffs. I’m the only picker currently above water right now but Tom has a chance to even things out for himself. Each person will pick the outcome of the game – either the line or the over/under – and three prop bets from a list I gathered from multiple places. Most of the prop bets I used had even odds on either side of the bet and I avoided things like picking the MVP or who would score the first points as that doesn’t really work in this format.
If you’re new to prop bets at the Super Bowl, they can be overwhelming as there are dozens of bets on things that happen before the Super Bowl even starts. We’re keeping it to football. Have fun and enjoy the game.
The following lines and props were captured on Wednesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.
|Away Team||Home Team||Line||O/U|
|San Francisco 49ers||Kansas City Chiefs||KC -1||54|
Will Patrick Mahomes throw an INT?
Will Tyreek Hill score a TD?
Patrick Mahomes rushing yards o/u 33.5
Will Travis Kelce score a TD?
Will Frank Clark record a sack?
Will Raheem Mostert score a TD?
Will Nick Bosa record a sack?
Will George Kittle score a TD?
First team to punt – KC or SF?
Team with most 1st downs – KC or SF?
Team with shortest FG made – KC or SF?
Will the game will be tied after first score (other than 0-0)?
Team receiving opening kickoff – KC or SF?
Team with first charged time out – KC or SF?
What will happen first – sack or TD?
|Analyst||Jeff Berckes||Erik Smith||Tom Schweitzer|
|Pick #1||Over 54||KC -1||SF +1|
|Pick #2||No Mahomes INT||Yes Mostert TD||KC more 1st downs|
|Pick #3||Yes, game will be tied||Sack first||No Bosa sack|
|Pick #4||No Kittle TD||Mahomes o/33.5 rush yds||Mahomes u/33.5 rush yds|
|Regular Season Record||55-29-1||51-33-1||45-40|
Jeff Berckes: I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to pick the side on this game. I find myself cheering for the Chiefs because of Andy Reid but I really like how the 49ers build their team and their style of play too. Instead, I find myself looking at game script. Sometimes Super Bowls can start off sluggish and there’s a lot of caution on both sides. Both Head Coaches have been to the big game before and I think that helps to get their teams ready to play well. Both offenses have plenty of firepower and I think it’s reasonable to think this game gets played in the 30’s (over 54). Patrick Mahomes has been dialed in during these playoffs. He’s healthy, he has his full complement of weapons, and he’s making highlight-reel plays consistently. What’s even more amazing is that he’s taking care of the ball. Only 5 interceptions this season and none this postseason, I feel good about his chances of keeping a clean sheet in the SB (No Mahomes INT). My thinking all week has been that this game will be close and the Chiefs are only favored by one point. I think it’s reasonable to think that the game will be tied up at some point after the first score so I’ll take that prop bet (Yes, game tied). Finally, I want to dive into the TD predictions. I was thinking at first that I’d take Travis Kelce to score because I don’t really know how SF will defend him. However, I’ve settled on going against my guy George Kittle (No TD for Kittle). The Chiefs defense has been middle of the road defending Tight Ends and their weak spot is defending the run. We know that SF will happily deploy Kittle as a blocker to help in that run game and Kittle, as amazing as he is, only had 5 scores this season. As a George Kittle fan, this is one bet I wouldn’t mind getting wrong.
Erik Smith: While I agree with the consensus that the 49ers have the more complete roster, the Chiefs roster is better than we give them credit for. Both teams feature an above-average passing defense and offense, the two most important factors in today’s NFL. While San Francisco has the better running game, Kansas City’s rushing attack has improved dramatically with the reemergence of Damen Williams coupled with Patrick Mahomes’ increased willingness to scramble. The big difference is in run defense, where the Chiefs have struggled throughout the year. But they managed to slow down Derrick Henry just enough in the AFC Championship game for Mahomes to take over, and I think that they can do that again versus the 49ers. Mahomes is playing at an otherworldly level, and Jimmy Garoppolo could be just a bit rusty after essentially taking the last month off. KC -1 is the pick, and as long as Mahomes has the ball with a chance to win at the end, I believe that he will come through. For my first prop, I’m attacking the weak spot in this game, the Chiefs run defense. With Tevin Coleman battling injury and Matt Brieda becoming an afterthought, I like the odds that Raheem Mostert will score a TD. Mostert could come through on this one even if San Francisco falls behind, and would be a near-lock to score in a 49ers win. Super Bowls usually seem to start slowly, as nerves and long commercial breaks lead to some sloppy offense. For that reason, I’ll say that there will be a sack before the first touchdown. Between Nick Bosa, Frank Clark, Dee Ford, and the rest of the talented pass rushers in this matchup, one of them should get to the quarterback early on. Finally, I’m going to bet that Mahomes’ recent rushing ability carries over into this game. Mahomes has carried 15 times for 106 yards over the last two games and seems to be fully recovered from his knee injury. With a Super Bowl on the line, I don’t expect him to hold back, and if the 49ers put up a good fight in pass coverage Mahomes should look to scramble early and often. I’ll take over 33.5 rushing yards for Mahomes.
Tom Schweitzer: This game is an interesting handicap because you could make the argument that both teams are lucky to be here. Both teams caught significant breaks before the playoffs even started. The Dolphins did the Chiefs a favor by beating the Patriots in week 17, which gave Kansas City a bye and allowed them to avoid facing the Ravens and Patriots. The 49ers were a yard away from losing to the Seahawks, which would have bumped them down to a 5 seed. Seattle botching that final possession allowed the 49ers to play two home games and avoid the Seahawks and Saints, the two teams that had the most success against the 49er defense during the regular season. I think this is a pretty even matchup, but I’m going to take the 49ers +1 because I think they faced a tougher road to get to the Super Bowl and were more dominant along the way. The Chiefs have been incredibly sloppy at times. I don’t think they can afford to give up another early lead 10-point in this game because San Francisco’s defense and rushing attack are better than either of the AFC South teams the Chiefs faced in the playoffs. I’m going to hedge my 49ers bet a bit by picking the Chiefs to have more first downs because I think there’s a distinct possibility that the Chiefs could convert more first downs and still lose the game. The 49ers offense is designed to run the ball in order to set up big plays on play-action and misdirection, which tends to reduce their number of first downs. They finished 4th in the NFL in total yards in the regular season, but only 14th in first downs. The 49ers faced what I would consider elite quarterbacks on 6 different occasions – 2 games against Russell Wilson, 2 games against Aaron Rodgers, and games against Drew Brees and Lamar Jackson. The 49ers had fewer first downs than their opponent in 5 of those 6 games, but still managed to win 4 of them. Along those same lines, I’m going to bet that Nick Bosa does not record a sack. The 49ers defense averages 4 sacks per game, but their sack totals were low against the more mobile QB’s they faced this year and the Chiefs were one of the least sacked teams in the league this year. I think the 49ers will focus on keeping Mahomes in the pocket to prevent him from scrambling to make big plays, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bosa get pressure on Mahomes but fail to record a sack. Finally, I think there’s some vividness and recency bias inflating Mahomes’s rushing yardage total after his impressive 27-yard touchdown run in the AFC championship. I think he’ll have 3 or 4 rush attempts, but I expect the speed of the 49ers defense to keep Mahomes under 33.5 rushing yards.
What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all playoffs!
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)