Cover image courtesy of the fantastic @LiamOneThree on twitter, check him out – liamonethree.etsy.com
The big game is finally here, after 4 months of football we’re down to just two teams, and it’s hard to argue that they’re not the best two teams in the league, the Chiefs and Eagles were the 1 seed in their conferences, the 13th time in the 43 years that the league has had seeding.
The Chiefs have had the tougher run to this point and have had to deal with injuries to key players throughout the post-season, Patrick Mahomes had his ankle rolled up on against the Jaguars and toughed it out, and that injury definitely hampered him during their win over the Bengals in the Championship round, but he took off when he needed and hobbled out of play to put them in position to kick the game-winning field goal. In fairness he was great even with limited mobility and I am happy to re-affirm my statement from a few years ago that he’ll be the best of all time when all is said and done.
Both teams have recent experience in the Super Bowl having both won in the last 6 years, the Eagles in 2017 and the Chiefs just a couple of years ago when they beat the 49ers, and both teams have won in Arizona this year as well, beating the Cardinals in the regular season.
The Eagles had the easiest schedule according to DVOA in the regular season (the Chiefs had the 4th) and they’ve used the momentum from the regular season well, beating first the Giants with ease and then getting the advantage of playing the 49ers without their QBs for much of the game after Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson were knocked out on clean hits. It allowed them to rest players for a lot of the second half, although they did still run Jalen Hurts a few times on one drive at the risk of re-aggravating his shoulder injury. A strange choice.
The health of the QBs is the big unknown for this game though, I am sure that Mahomes still won’t be at full health as a high ankle sprain tends to take 4-6 weeks to recover from and he looked gradually worse through the game last week, but as I say, he showed he could still work from within the pocket last week, and did it without many of his options as they lost pass catchers throughout the game. Jalen Hurts is more of an unknown, we know he had a shoulder injury and his numbers dropped off after returning from the injury, but he’s past the general recovery time and two weeks between games should have helped, he did seem to lack touch on passes last time they played.
My DraftKings league has it’s contest live – $5 Showdown for the Super Bowl
Chiefs +1 vs. Eagles: 51
The Chiefs were one of the worst teams in the league against the spread this year, finishing the season 8-11 against the market when you include the post-season, but that’s partly due to having inflated spreads and partly due to them just cruising through the season without having to put much effort into things. The Eagles weren’t a whole lot better at 10-9 ATS this year.
From the @ClevTA cheat-sheet; First time QBs are 6-5 straight up and 9-2 ATS against experienced QBs which is obviously a trend which suits the Eagles. – Another nugget from that sheet is that first halves tend to go under, but we knew that anyway with Super Bowls, a lot of that is due to the Patriots and Brady, but there’s a definite trend of teams starting slowly with the pressure on during this game.
The majority of the lines quoted are from Bet365 due to how incredibly easy it is to navigate, you’ll probably find a little difference around the books though.
Patrick Mahomes comes into this one saying he’s in good health and I’m sure he is, and let’s be fair even at 80% he’s probably still the best QB in the league so it’s not a massive thing, although if his mobility is hampered he loses quite a significant part of his game. I would usually be advocating for him to go over his rush yards but that’s a no-go with the unknown over his ankle injury. His passing line is around 291, his rush line down at 19.5 – He had 326 and 8 yards while hampered last time they played. It sounds like the squad is in decent health and I think this will be high scoring, so I would lean to the over on his passing yards here.
The running back room may have been complicated a little more this weekend with Clyde Edwards-Helaire being activated from IR, adding him in the mix with 7th round rookie Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon, but even when he was healthy they moved away from him to Pacheco and he’s taken his chance well, running with anger in every game. Pacheco has been getting the bulk of the run plays and McKinnon the passing-downs, but even then the role has been increasingly Pacheco. If CEH get’s touches it’s probably going to be at the detriment of McKinnon, oh, and Ronald Jones might get a touch of two as well, for shits and giggles.
- Pacheco – Rush; 47.5 – Recs. – 1.5 and 16.5
- McKinnon – Rush; 19.5 – Recs. 2.5 – and 22.5
They’re the lines on the main guys, I like Pacheco o1.5 receptions, he had 5 when everyone dropped out last game. McKinnon is worth targeting for under on his longest rush, he’s only topped 8.5 five times this season. Lean over on Pacheco rush yards.
They are reporting full health at Wide Reciever with Juju Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney both apparently good to go, although Toney did apparently have a worry on Friday, again, he never seems to be healthy but when he’s on the field they do like to use him and his explosiveness. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a big game when needed last week without no-one else on the field and Justin Watson should be available here for deep shots as well. But the main guy is obviously Travis Kelce who’s had another ridiculous year and seems unstoppable despite the world knowing that’s where the ball is going.
- Juju – 3.5 Recs and 35.5 yards
- MVS – 2.5 Recs and 35.5 yards
- Toney – 2.5 Recs and 28.5 yards
- Kelce – 6.5 Recs. (4/7) and 78.5 yards
- Watson – 1.5 Recs. and 14.5 yards
So Mahomes is at near 300 yards and the WRs are at 35.5 max – Probably not a bad idea to look at alt. lines on Juju and MVS and expect one of them to top at least 50 yards at better odds. Toney could get there but health is always a worry with him and Kelce should hit 7 receptions in a good matchup.
Defensively the Chiefs finished the year second in sacks (behind the Eagles, significantly behind the Eagles) and 12.5 of those sacks went to Chris Jones who essentially won the game for them last week with his first post-season sacks. They had to use a lot of rookies on defense but the kids stepped up well and Trent McDuffie has shown his worth covering the top WRs on their opponents. Jones gets the better matchup against the interior of the Eagles league-leading OL and that matchup will be very interesting to watch. They finished the regular season 15th vs. the run and 20th vs. the pass (DVOA).
- Chris Jones – 20/27
- Frank Clark – 21/20
- George Karlaftis – 33/20
- Carlos Dunlap – 2/1
It goes without saying that it’s a good roster, it’s obviously made the Super Bowl, they are pretty good everywhere and have the better QB by some way in this one. Steve Spagnuolo will have the defense ready to try and stop the Eagles run game and they will put up points.
It’s been a big improvement from Jalen Hurts at QB and a fantastic coaching and front office job as they’ve built around him and use his strengths well. His rushing has been key to their season, finishing with 15 rushing TDs, and only failing to find the endzone in 6 of their 17 games. The ruck and maul they’ve been running on short downage has so far proven unstoppable as he bundles his way into the paint. His passing has greatly improved and having AJ Brown to target has definitely helped them, but his touch on deep passes has been off in recent weeks, so there is a little worry over his shoulder injury. Having the deep shots to AJB and Smith allows them easier boxes to run against and lets that area work better as well.
- Passing – 240.5, rush – 50.5, rush attempts – 10.5
I’m thinking under on passing yards, I can’t touch rush yards at that line, his longest o13.5 looks a bit more tempting, he’s topped that 9 times this season.
They have a lot of variation at running back with Miles Sanders the de facto lead back, but the ability to bring in Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott to mix things up, Gainwell has seen increased work in the playoffs, but that might be due to games getting out of hand early allowing them to bring him in and give Sanders more rest, or it might be that he’s earned more play. I’m hoping it’s the second one as his lines are low in this game. Sanders has tended to get the yardage and not TDs, but did score twice against the 49ers last time out, with Boston Scott also finding the endzone for the third game in the row.
- Sanders – Rush – 61.5, Rec – 4.5
- Gainwell – Rush – 19.5, Rec – 11.5
- Scott – Rush – 8.5
I do like the Gainwell lines, he’s had 48 and 112 yards in the playoffs, and 9 and 26 receiving yards. I’ve got to take the o19.5 rush yards for him.
The passing game is more concentrated than the Chiefs, with AJ Brown proving well worth the 1st round pick they gave up for him to the Titans, and Heisman winning Devonta Smith gaining the bulk of the targets and Dallas Goedert at tight end getting a lot of work as well. Outside of the big three Quez Watkins has dropped off, Zach Pascal can do a little and the backup TEs get a little work as well, Stoll and Calceterra.
- AJ Brown – 72.5, Recs – 5.5
- Smith – 63.5, Recs – 5.5
- Goedert – 48.5, Recs – 4.5
- Watkins – 11.5, Recs – 1.5
I’d have to lean over on AJB receptions, and over on Goedert receptions, under on Smith as a result of those leans, and Watkins… threading the needle a bit, but over on yards, under on receptions, so 1 for 12+ basically. (You can get 5/1 on Watkins over yards and under recs)
Defensively they nearly set the regular-season sack record, falling just a few short in the end and it’s the depth on the defensive line which allows them to keep their pass-rushers fresh which has been the key to it, Hassan Reddick has been a fantastic free agency acquisition with 19.5 sacks when you include the post-season, he gets a decent matchup on the edge against Wylie for the Chiefs, then the likes of Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Flecther Cox will all bring pressure up front as well.
They do also boast the best passing defense in the league, although the level of QB they’ve faced has been laughable on the whole, the few teams they played with a decent QB tended to put up points on them, so it isn’t as good as it’s rated.
- Reddick – 4/7
- Graham – 2/1
- Cox – 16/5
- Sweat – 13/10
The Eagles probably have the best roster in the league with the best offensive line and defensive line, and they say the game is won in the trenches… well that’s good for the Eagles, but they have a drop off at QB in comparison to the Chiefs… They’ll put up points though.
How’s it gonna go?
I have no idea! The only thing that seems certain is that there will be points, but with the trend of Super Bowls starting slow it will be better getting on overs after the 1st quarter here.
I do believe the Eagles will win, but it’s not something I’ll be backing as it seems stupid going against Patrick Mahomes, and getting him as an underdog has generally been sensible although the sample size isn’t significant.
It’s also Andy Reid off a bye week – He’s 28-4 straight up in those spots, and of course he’s got the experience of coaching in a Super Bowl.
IF I was being forced to pick I’d still take the Eagles and the over, although 51 is a key number (27-24) so it’s a touch risky.
Of course there are a million prop bets available in Super Bowls so a TON of things to look at. I’ve backed several props.
- Opening kick-off NO touchback – Plus money around the books – They bring the ball out for the kick off and take it away straight after kick off, so while these kickers have big legs it’s a hard ball they’ve not been allowed to manipulate before and as such tends to drop shorter than usual.
- No score in first 6 minutes – These games tend to start off slow, this one will be a lot easier if the Eagles receive ball from kick off as they can run 3 or 4 times per series and wile away some time from the clock.
- 4th quarter higher scoring than 1st – Odds aren’t good on this one, but it’s still decent value
- 2nd half highest scoring – 4/5 – Similar fashion to the two above, games start slowly, the risk here is that the Eagles have been imperious in 2nd quarters this year and then control the ball for second halves.
- Most first downs – Eagles – 8/11 (PaddyPower) – Again, they run the ball a lot and they go for it on 4th down more than anyone else, so more chance of keeping drives alive.
- Shortest TD u1.5 yards – A go-to of mine in the Super Bowl, DPI gets you to the 1 yard line and with this Eagles team and their maul Hurts may well sort this one out for us.
- Longest TD u40.5 yards – Neither of these teams have been too explosive this year despite having the ability to, Gurpal on the Early Value Betting podcast suggested this one, and I like it.
- Over 2.5 players to attempt a pass – plus money – Another Super Bowl go-to, Bengals did it last year, the Eagles have the Philly special in their past and the Chiefs have used others to throw the ball too. It’s the final game, you empty the playbook.
So there’s a load of prop suggestions for you. I will say that arguably my favourite is Eagles 2+ rushing TDs – plus money at some books, Evens on RaBs on Sky, they scored 4 against one of the best rushing defense in the league last year, they can hit two here.
Player wise I do like the Gainwell yardage, it’s relatively low and he’s shown he can top it in recent weeks.
I don’t have a whole lot on TDs to be honest, 17/2 on Justin Watson isn’t terrible although it’s a big risk as he’s only likely to have one or two targets. If I was going for a mildly decent price it would probably be Gainwell again at 4/ 1 (PP/Betfair) although it could well be Scott who’s at 5s.
It’s probably a bit late, but there’s been no leak on the National Anthem so far, I think under 2mins 6 seconds for it, but I don’t have any real reasoning other than, that’s a bloody long time.
Coin toss – I think the Chiefs call tails – You can get that at 4/5 on Skybet – They will defer but the odds are terrible on that.
Half-Time show – The rumour is that Rihanna will come out to a recording of “What’s my name” but her first song will be “Bitch Better have my money” – I don’t know how Skybet will settle that if it happens, but 20/1 on What’s my name seems like it’s worth a go. Better have my money is 1/8 now so not worth it. Again, I’d expect a leak but I’ve not seen one as of yet.
Gatorade Shower – The Eagles dumped Yellow/Green on Sirianni after the Championship game and had that when they won the Lombardi, the Chiefs tend to go for Orange – 2/1 for Y/G on 888sport was the best I saw, it’s 6/5-ish everywhere else.
Thank you for reading my babble all year, hopefully the season finishes with a cracker and we all win some money. Thanks for Bet and Get from William Hill all year I’m on for £1212 if the Eagles win, and about £300 from the Chiefs, so I’m pretty chuffed either way and will enjoy my many chicken wings and beers watching this one.
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