Last Updated: January 30th at 7:15pm ET
Team Totals: Chiefs 27.5, 49ers 26.5
Winners of eight straight games and five consecutively by double digits, the Chiefs face the 49ers as narrow one-point favorites in a battle of teams that ranked top five in points scored per game, yards per game, and yards per play (Kansas City) and allowed the league’s second fewest yards per game and yards per play (San Francisco) in 2019.
But both offenses are extremely potent. San Francisco scored even more points per game (29.9) than Kansas City (28.2) this regular season and has averaged 32.0 through two playoff wins. The total on 49ers-Chiefs has been bet up from 51 into the 55-point range. Some sportsbooks offer prop bets on at least one team to score within the first six and a half minutes of Sunday’s game; WestGate for instance listed this prop at reasonable -110 odds. At -190, at least one team scoring within the game’s final three and a half minutes is a lower-paying but heady wager in a projected shootout with a one-point spread.
As Andy Reid-coached teams typically do, Kansas City plays decidedly pass-first football. Per The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, the 2019 Chiefs’ early-down pass rate adjusted for situation was the second highest of any team over the last 20 years (65%).
While the Niners’ defensive dominance obviously can’t be dismissed after permitting just 30 combined points to Minnesota and Green Bay in the Divisional and Conference Championship Rounds, pro-offense NFL rules bestow upon Kansas City an inherent advantage especially in host city Miami’s pass-friendly environment, while Kansas City’s perimeter speed and quickness pose significant obstacles for plus-sized members of San Francisco’s secondary.
Over his last six games, Patrick Mahomes is 112-of-162 passing (69.1%) for 1,380 yards (8.52 YPA), a 13:2 TD-to-INT ratio, two additional rushing scores, and 158 rushing yards. Mahomes is healthy and on absolute fire, and no quarterback in football excels more on second-reaction plays, especially notable since fellow second-reaction savants Kyler Murray (twice) and Russell Wilson (twice) gave the 49ers more regular season fits than other quarterbacks.
Over San Francisco’s last seven games, enemy signal callers completed 172-of-256 throws (67.2%) with a 15:4 TD-to-INT ratio and two additional rushing scores against the Niners. They drew Murray and Wilson twice apiece during that span. Per ESPN Stats & Information, fellow plus-mobility QBs Murray, Wilson, and Lamar Jackson posted a combined QBR of seventy one versus San Francisco. All other quarterbacks combined for a QBR of twenty eight against Robert Saleh’s defense.
Per Next Gen Stats, Mahomes has thrown a league-high 22 touchdown passes “on the run” since the start of the 2018 season. Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston are tied for a distant second (15). And Mahomes has thrown four more “on-the-run” touchdowns through two playoff games. Mahomes’ rushing-yards prop opened at 30.5 with fair -110 odds. Only two teams allowed more quarterback rushing yards than the 49ers this regular season, and Mahomes has rushed for over 100 yards this postseason. WestGate also offered -110 odds on Mahomes’ longest rushing attempt at 11.5 yards. Based on matchup and recent production, I like over bets on both.
Even in an imposing draw, Damien Williams warrants long-shot Super Bowl MVP and Draft Kings Showdown Captain consideration with nine career playoff touchdowns under his belt facing a 49ers defense that figures to focus its stoppage efforts elsewhere. Williams will rarely come off the field – his to-date postseason playing-time clip is 91% — and he will be Kansas City’s top offensive beneficiary if San Francisco lightens the box to devote extra resources to dealing with Mahomes.
I’ve seen Williams’ Super Bowl MVP odds at 25-to-1, making him an exciting long-shot bet. I also like overs on his 3.5-receptions and 29.5-receiving-yards props. The 49ers’ daunting pass rush may force Mahomes to accept a few more checkdowns than usual, and the Chiefs throw the football on early downs at a near-league-high clip.
Mahomes’ postseason target distribution: Travis Kelce 16; Damien Williams and Sammy Watkins 12; Tyreek Hill 11; Demarcus Robinson 6; Mecole Hardman 5; Darwin Thompson and Blake Bell 2; Deon Yelder 1. … Although San Francisco’s season-long statistics allowed were stingy versus tight ends, Tyler Higbee (9/104/0), Jared Cook (2/64/2), Jacob Hollister (8/62/1), Jimmy Graham (4/59/0), Mark Andrews (3/50/1), Irv Smith (3/39/0), Jace Sternberger (2/13/1), and Josh Hill (2/4/1) logged fantasy-viable production against the Niners from Week 10 on. Designated 49ers TE stopper Jaquiski Tartt is a real coverage weapon but should pose little match for Kelce, the best receiving tight end in the game. … Albeit small sampled, Watkins has shredded the playoffs for 190 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets against the Texans and Titans. His hot run is likely to end on Super Bowl Sunday; whereas Dean Pees and Romeo Crennel were schemers that concentrated on Hill and Kelce and let others run free, 49ers DC Robert Saleh runs a straightaway Cover-3 base defense that will treat Watkins similarly to the Chiefs’ other weapons. … While Kelce’s on-paper matchup may seem better than proposed and Watkins has at least reemerged as a factor, Hill remains the biggest matchup-driven problem for Saleh’s group. Going on age 32, long-limbed LCB Richard Sherman isn’t built to keep pace with darting Hill in man coverage, and RCB Emmanuel Moseley is a second-year undrafted rookie.
Especially notably for one-game DFS slate investors, Hardman appeared to usurp mistake-prone Robinson in Conference Title week. Hardman’s 40% playing-time clip and 21 routes run were both his most since Week 11, while Robinson (37%, 17) worked as the Chiefs’ clear No. 4 receiver. Hardman also returns kicks and punts and correlates advantageously with Kansas City’s D/ST. Hardman is a wild-card Super Bowl 54 MVP long shot at 80-to-1 odds. I also like the over on Hardman’s first-reception prop of 12.5 yards (-110) and betting on Hardman to score Super Bowl 54’s first touchdown (22 to 1), a feat he could conceivably accomplish as a wide receiver, return man, or end-around/jet-sweep rusher.
Fresh off stymieing The Big Dog Derrick Henry for 69 rushing yards – Henry’s worst game on the ground since November 3 – the Chiefs enter Super Bowl 54 having held enemy backs to a combined 104/405/3 (3.89 YPC) rushing line over their last six games. Kyle Shanahan’s offense did exhibit matchup-proof capability by ethering the supposedly run-tough Vikings (47/186/2), Rams (23/119/2), and Saints (24/162/1) down the stretch. Shanahan’s run-game schemes are perennially second to none.
Particularly with Tevin Coleman nursing a torn labrum in his shoulder, Raheem Mostert can safely be counted on as San Francisco’s feature back in Super Bowl 54. Per Next Gen Stats, the 2019 49ers ran the ball from I formations at a league-high 43% clip, while Kansas City permitted an NFL-most 6.4 yards per carry on I-formation runs. FB Kyle Juszczyk’s stretch-return from his month-long MCL injury provided a meaningful boost to the Niners’ run-game unit, which experiences a rise from 4.4 yards per carry without Juszczyk on the field to 5.0 with him on it and a rushing Success Rate that leaps from 40.5% to 55%.
DFS players should be keenly aware Tevin Coleman’s Super Bowl usage is likely to be limited by the torn labrum in his shoulder. Never a make-you-miss back, Coleman’s game is built on straight-line movement and downhill force that figure to be compromised by his injury.
Matt Breida is a real Super Bowl sleeper. Shanahan has stayed committed to RBBCs throughout his time in San Francisco, and Breida’s big-play ability is undeniable with averages of 5.2 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per reception over the past two years. Shanahan likely plans to hold Breida below double-digit touches against the Chiefs – Breida lost a late-game fumble in the Divisional Round and played just two snaps against the Packers – but one or two explosive early-game gains could change Shanahan’s mind in his perpetual “hot hand” approach. Breida’s Super Bowl MVP odds are 100 to 1.
Over their last three games, quarterbacks facing Kansas City are 84-of-130 passing (64.6%) for 879 yards and a 6:2 TD-to-INT ratio, averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt but keeping the ball moving against Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo’s defense by specific means that San Francisco is well equipped to specifically exploit.
Spags’ group is particularly vulnerable in the middle of the field; enemy tight ends piled up the NFL’s second-most catches (98) and fourth-most yards (974) against Kansas City this regular season, before Texans (4/29/1) and Titans TEs (5/69/1) tagged the Chiefs for plus playoff production. Game script has kept George Kittle quiet this postseason, but an eruption is forthcoming in Super Bowl 54’s mouth-watering matchup with track-meet potential. I’ve seen Kittle’s Super Bowl MVP odds available at 16 to 1. They pair nicely with prop betting Kittle to score a touchdown in the game (+140).
In the AFC Championship, Chiefs DT Chris Jones gutted out his calf injury to play 41% of Kansas City’s defensive snaps against the Titans and made a significant impact with four QB hurries, tied for Jones’ second most all year. Healthier now two weeks removed, Jones is likely to be a critical factor ticketed for full-time Super Bowl snaps. Per Next Gen Stats, Jones boasted the NFL’s quickest pass-rush get off (0.88-seconds average) among defensive tackles this season, and the Chiefs’ team pressure rate skyrocketed from 18% with Jones off the field to 39% when Jones played.
Per PFF, Jimmy Garoppolo was the NFL’s eighth highest-rated quarterback among 37 qualifiers when kept clean this season (110.8). He fell to 14th when pressured (74.2). One of my favorite Super Bowl Jimmy G Super Bowl props involves betting on Garoppolo throwing an interception at -150 odds or better. As noted in my Conference Title Matchups breakdown, teams facing the Chiefs tend to throw the football more than usual – Ryan Tannehill’s pass attempts indeed spiked to 31 against Kansas City – and Jimmy G has thrown one pick or more in 8-of-11 games where he’s attempted at least 25 passes (73%).
Garoppolo’s postseason target distribution: Deebo Samuel 9; Kittle and Kendrick Bourne 6; Emmanuel Sanders 3; Mostert 2. … As Kyle Shanahan has incorporated him as both a rusher and receiver, Samuel enters Super Bowl 54 averaging 79.5 yards from scrimmage over the Niners’ last six games and is positioned to operate as a primary means of attacking Kansas City’s defense in its soft middle of the field. As a rookie, Samuel averaged 8.5 yards after catch per reception – second most in all of football in 2019 — and gained 60% of his receiving yards after the catch. 68% of Samuel’s rookie-year receptions were made in the middle of the field. … Bourne’s playing time barely changed from the Divisional Round (29%) to Conference Title week (24%), but Super Bowl 54’s game script suggests Bourne could be more involved than usual as a slot option/red-zone weapon in a potential shootout. Bourne has scored six touchdowns over San Francisco’s last 11 games. … Sanders has fallen short of expectations far more often than not with San Francisco – he’s topped 61 yards twice since Week 4 – yet Sanders plays almost every snap and is priced dirt cheaply on Draft Kings. I like prop betting Sanders’ first reception of the game to span longer than 12.5 yards (-110); he’s averaged 14.1 yards per catch since joining the Niners. At 65 to 1, Sanders’ Super Bowl MVP long-shot odds also pair nicely with prop betting Sanders to score a touchdown in the game (+240) and overs on his receptions prop of 2.5 (-130) and receiving-yardage prop of 41.5 (-110).
Parlay Ideas: Especially if you are in Vegas for Super Bowl 54, I like almost any combination of these bets:
* Chiefs to cover the spread
* Over on the total
* Patrick Mahomes to win MVP
* Jimmy Garoppolo has more passing yards in second half than first half
* Chiefs to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter
* Chiefs to be the last team to score
Score Prediction: Chiefs 30, 49ers 27