During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread. Here are his thoughts on the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is usually a betting event where I stay away from the side or total and focus on the endless amount of prop bets offered for this singular game. It is highly unlikely to find value on the point spread for any NFL playoff game, especially the one that is discussed and overanalyzed for two weeks. However, this Super Bowl is different, and I will have most of the money I bet for Sunday’s game on the Chiefs.
The point spread movement for this game occurred within 48 hours of this matchup being set. The very first numbers had the Chiefs as a small favorite right after their 23-20 win over the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. Then the early money arrived for the Eagles, who had defeated the 49ers 31-7 earlier in the day. It wasn’t a surprise to see the initial action on Philly after they won by margin and KC needed a last-second field goal to advance.
There was also justification to bet the Eagles right away because of the injuries the Chiefs endured against the Bengals. Kansas City nearly ran out of healthy wide receivers with Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leaving the game early. The Chiefs also suffered defensive injuries to CB L’Jarius Sneed and LB Willie Gay. On top of that, Patrick Mahomes limped to the finish line after experiencing a high ankle sprain in the Divisional Round, while TE Travis Kelce was dealing with a back injury.
With all that uncertainty, bettors took the Eagles all the way out to a 2.5-point favorite. I got involved with the Chiefs at +2.5 because some sportsbooks were moving the number back to Chiefs +2, and it didn’t seem like Chiefs +3 would ever appear. The line settled at Eagles -1.5 last Tuesday after positive injury reports surrounding KC were released. The only player not going to play from the aforementioned group is Hardman, while Toney and Smith-Schuster are trending toward playing and Sneed cleared concussion protocol.
There isn’t a huge number edge for me betting the Chiefs. I think they should be a small favorite, but going through zero is meaningless in a game that can’t end in a tie. KC is more likely to win the game, and I believe the Eagles are getting too much credit from their two playoffs wins last month against the Giants — who were overhyped after a close win over the overrated Vikings — and the 49ers, who unfortunately had to rely on fourth-string QB Josh Johnson for the majority of the game after Brock Purdy tore his UCL.
Back in December, the biggest question surrounding the Eagles was the health of QB Jalen Hurts. The Eagles’ third-year QB sustained a shoulder injury in Week 15 that kept him out of two games before he returned in Week 18 to clinch the NFC East and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Hurts hasn’t been asked to do much with the Eagles playing with a positive game script in both playoff games, so there are still questions about his ability as a passer if Philly is forced to throw late in a competitive game.
All those factors — plus getting Mahomes as an underdog with extra time to heal his ankle — have me on the Chiefs in this Super Bowl.
Bet: Chiefs +1.5
I was looking to make prop bets on Mahomes against Hurts with the idea that the Chiefs would be throwing no matter how the game plays out, while the Eagles will likely run the ball in this matchup (for example, you can bet Mahomes to throw for more than 51 passing yards over Hurts). But since I like the Chiefs to win, I can see a scenario in which Hurts is forced to throw, so I don’t want to risk Hurts putting up late stats to cover some of those bets.
I really like Patrick Mahomes to win Super Bowl MVP. It’s a smart way to bet on the Chiefs to win the game while getting a bigger plus-price than +105 on the moneyline. Last year, I wrote that if you like the Bengals to beat the Rams you should just bet Joe Burrow to be named Super Bowl MVP. The Cincinnati roster wasn’t as talented and they needed Burrow to carry them. On the other sideline, the Rams had several options other than QB Matthew Stafford who could’ve won the award, and that’s exactly what happened with WR Cooper Kupp receiving the honor. I see a similar situation on Sunday where if the Chiefs win it’s likely going to be Mahomes as MVP, but an Eagles player other than Hurts can take the award if Philadelphia wins.
Travis Kelce is the most likely Chiefs player to win if Mahomes doesn’t, but Mahomes will be racking up stats when completing passes to his trusted tight end. There’s also the narrative of Mahomes playing this game at less than 100 percent health, which is something that would definitely help his case and add to his “legend.”
Bet: Patrick Mahomes to win Super Bowl MVP (+130)
My favorite angle for player props in the playoffs is betting on or against a player after they have an outlier performance in their previous game. Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling fits that criteria after he grabbed six receptions for 116 yards against the Bengals. It was a season high in receiving yards for the player better known as “MVS” and also tied his season high in receptions. He was held to 28 receiving yards or less in the previous six games (his receiving yards prop against the Bengals was set at 27.5).
MVS saw the uptick in stats largely due to the injuries to Toney, Smith-Schuster and Hardman. The Chiefs were so desperate that special teamer Marcus Kemp made his first reception of the season late in that game. With Toney and Smith-Schuster expected back, I can see MVS regressing to the mean.
He has a tough matchup as an outside wide receiver against Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Now, MVS is priced at 37.5 receiving yards, which is 10 yards more than what the number was set at in the Chiefs’ last game. Patrick Mahomes warned the fantasy football community before the season “it will be a different guy every week” in terms of wide receiver production, and I can see MVS held in check at an inflated price.
With the public likely to bet over on his receiving yards all week, I’ve going to wait to play this right before kickoff.
Bet: Marquez Valdes-Scantling under 37.5 receiving yards
Field Goal Bets
My favorite prop bet for Sunday’s big game comes in the special teams market. I like the Chiefs to make the longest field goal of the Super Bowl.
Why? Because of Nick Sirianni’s aggressiveness on fourth down. The Eagles ranked fourth in the NFL with 32 fourth-down attempts and converted on 22 of those tries. Philly has become unstoppable with Hurts and their offensive line on quarterback sneaks. I would expect Sirianni to continue his new-school approach of going for it on fourth and short instead of kicking long field goals.
On the other side, the Chiefs only had 12 fourth-down attempts this season. They converted nine of those, but Andy Reid is known for conservative in-game decisions, and he has trust in kicker Harrison Butker. I’ve also seen some convincing cases for Eagles kicker Jake Elliott to go under 7.5 points with the theory that he won’t have many field goal attempts. Instead of betting on that, I prefer this bet with the expectation that Sirianni won’t settle for long field goals.
Bet: Chiefs to make the longest field goal (-115)