By Marc Lawrence, Playbook Sports — OPENING LINE: 49ers -2.5 TOTAL POINTS: 47.5. 6:30 PM ET – CBS — It was four years ago when the Chiefs beat the 49ers, 31-20, in SB LIV, and lo and behold, they are each back on the biggest stage in a compelling rematch. Let’s take a quick look at how they arrived…
Kansas City’s fortunes took a significant turn when they hired Andy Reid as their head coach 11 years ago and capped that in 2017 when they drafted Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback. The pivotal moment occurred when Chiefs’ scout Brett Veach spotted something unexpected while watching a video of a Texas Tech offensive lineman. When Reidinqui red about what Veach was watching, he confidently responded, “The future quarterback of the Chiefs.”
After convincing Reid, and making some strategic draft moves, Mahomes became an integral part of the Chiefs. Unsurprisingly, two years later, Veach was promoted to General Manager. With it, the Chiefs joined the ranks of the third team ever to reach four Super Bowls within a five-year period (joining the 1990-93 Bills and 2014-18 Patriots) after defeating the Ravens last week.
On the other hand, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan made a crucial move in the 2021 NFL draft by trading up to select QB Trey Lance with the third overall pick, which didn’t pan out as expected. However, in the 2022NF L draft, the Niners fortuitously acquired QB Brock Purdy with the “Mr. I rrelevant” final selection.
Before Christmas Day, the 49ers had an impressive 11-3 win-loss record and 8-3 against-the-spread record when facing winning teams. However, their performance has since declined to 2-2 SU and a disappointing 0-4 ATS versus opponents of the same ilk.
Giving credit where credit is due, however, they did manage to defeat all of the other six NFC playoff entrants this season. It all sets the table for a must-see SB LVIII. Meanwhile, we put the Well-Oiled Machine to the task in this matchup, and here are a few of the many nuggets that spewed out…
Kansas City will be looking to become the NFL’s first consecutive Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots last pulled off the feat 20 years ago. In fact, there have been only eight such teams in league history. To complete the task. Take a look…
• 1966-67 Green Bay Packers
• 1972-73 Miami Dolphins
• 1974-75 Pittsburgh Steelers
• 1978-79 Pittsburgh Steelers
• 1988-89 San Francisco 49ers
• 1992-93 Dallas Cowboys
• 1997-98 Denver Broncos
• 2003-04 New England Patriots
Elite quarterback play is one of the most significant similarities between back-to-back champs. For what it’s worth, every back-to-back champion featured a Hall of Fame QB, from Bart Starr to Joe Montana to Tom Brady.
COACHES AND QUARTERBACKS
Unlike last year’s Super Bowl when the edge was clearly in favor of the Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes over Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni and QB Jalen Hurts, the edge this season is still there – just not quite as soundly.
Reid is a well-documented 31-7 SU and 23-15 ATS in games in which his team has an extra week of rest and 5-0 SUATS as a dog of fewer than five points. He is also 25-14 SU and 26-12-1 ATS against the NFC West, including 3-0 SUATS against Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers.
And we’ll bet you didn’t know that Andy has been just fantastic as an underdog in games in which his team is coming off consecutive SUATS wins at 21-3-1 ATS, including 6-0 ATS in games in which his team sports a .700 or greater win percentage.
For the moment, Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes has won six straight playoff starts vs. a murderers’ row of QB talent: Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawrence, and he hasn’t turned it over or been sacked in his last four playoff games. He’s the only QB in NFL playoff history without a turnover or sack in four straight playoff games.
FYI: Joe Montana not only emerged victorious from all four of his Super Bowl appearances, but he did it without throwing a single interception in any of those games. This is the cloth from which Mahomes is cut.
And the fact that he is 10-4 SU and 13-1 ATS as a dog in his NFL career – including 12-0 ATS, excluding starts away from Arrowhead Stadium – only speaks for itself. On the Niners side of the ball, head coach Kyle Shanahan has fared well in the postseason (8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS – but 0-3 ATS last three).
And he has a propensity of rewarding backers in games when these troops are coming off a SU win / ATS loss, going 11-2 SU and 10-3 ATS in his career – including 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS the last eight contests, not to mention a sterling career mark when coming off a pair of wins (28-18 ATS) and facing foes coming off a SU derdog win (12-7 ATS, including 7-0 ATS
in a combination role). However, in this scrum, he will be looking to cash his first ticket as a favorite against an AFC West team (0-3 ATS). Interestingly, Shanahan’s offenses, as an OC and a head coach, are 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS against DC Steve Spagnuolo’s defenses, generating an average 6.4 Yards Per Plays.
The 49ers were a perfect 6-0 in QB Brock Purdy’s starts this year versus the NFC playoff fi eld. Purdy is 7-0 SUATS in his NFL career when favored by fewer than 4 points. Mr. Irrelevant becomes the lowest-drafted quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl. Two undrafted quarterbacks (Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme) have started a Super Bowl.
Here is the lifetime record of both QBs during the NFL postseason:
QB SU ATS PA PC YDS TD INT QB Rating
P Mahomes 14-3 12-5 626 422 4,802 39 7 106.3
Brock Purdy 4-1 2-3 133 84 1,088 5 1 98.2
DEFENSE OUTPLAYS OFFENSE
So, which team actually owns the better defense? Is it a Kansas City crew that ranks No. 2 in overall defense and No. 2 in scoring defense? Or is it a San Francisco squad that ranks No. 3 in overall scoring defense and No. 3 in Defensive yards Per Rush?
We know that the Chiefs are the first team since the 2011 49ers to allow fewer than 28 points in every regular-season game. We also know that five teams in NFL history have met in a conference championship game that ranked No. 1 and No. 2 overall in scoring defenses (the Ravens and Chiefs were one-two in the AFC conference this season.
The winner of those fi ve games each hoisted the Super Bowl trophy. Considering that teams with the better overall defense have won 46of the previous 57 Super Bowls, it’s unsurprising to learn that the eight previous teams owning the better scoring defense (read: Chiefs) are 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS in head-to-head games. Read into that what you may.
As we alluded to earlier, we’re fully aware that “defense wins championships,” while that statement may be true, it will be up to Kansas City’s defense to disrupt San Francisco’s high-scoring attack and top-ranked overall offense.
That’s because the team with the most total yards in a Super Bowl game is 42-15 SU. The team with the most rushing yards is 42-14 SU (the Patriots and the Falcons each rushed for 104 yards in Super Bowl XLI).
The Niners were 12-6 SU and 9-8-1 ATS this season in games where they managed to rush for 100 or more yards and 11-1 SU and 8-3-1 ATS in contests in which they outrushed an opponent. Meanwhile, the Chiefs went 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS this season in games in which they hit the century mark on the ground, as well as 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS when they owned the rushing advantage.
In addition, KC was outrushed in 10 games this season. Offensively, San Francisco ranks No. 1 overall and No. 2 in scoring offense.
SUPER BOWL LVIII
The Chiefs counter at No. 14 overall and No. 8 in scoring offense.
The Chiefs and 49ers faced 7 common opponents this season: the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and Philadelphia Eagles. Kansas City was 5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS, and 4-3 ITS (In The Stats) while outgaining five of its opponents for a net average of +65 YPG in the stats.
San Francisco went 5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS, and 6-2 ITS, managing to outgain its foes by an average of +51 YPG in the stats. Kansas City took on eight playoff squads, going 4-4 SU and 4-4 ATS, winning the net stats by 14.6 net YPG, while KC was 7-3 SU and 3-6-1 ATS against fellow playoff teams for a net total of 62 net YPG. Hence, each team had their way, straight up or against the spread, with ordinary folk.
SUPER BOWL HISTORY
• Super Bowl favorites of 5 or fewer points in ‘double rest’ affairs – a week of rest before their fi rst playoff game and a week of rest before the big game – are 5-12 SU and 4-14 ATS (San Francisco).
• No. 1 seeds in the Super Bowl are 15-19 SU and 12-20-2 ATS since 1990, including 7-11 SU and 4-12-2 ATS versus non-No.1 seeds. (San Francisco)
• Teams who fail to score 20 points in the Super Bowl are 2-25 SU and 4-22-1 ATS since 1980. Teams that score 27 or more points in the Super Bowl are 31-5 SU and 28-7-1 ATS since 1980.
• The SU winner of the Super Bowl game is 48-7-2 ATS. Pick the winner of the game, and you’ll likely have a winning ticket.
I’M BETTER THAN YOU
This nugget, per Andy Iskoe of The Logical Approach: Since 1990, the Super Bowl team with the better regular season record is 11-13 SU, with 8 of the 32 Super Bowls since 1990 matching teams with identical regular season records. But the 24 teams with the better regular season record are just 5-18-1 ATS (21.7%). That, in itself, is pretty strong.
UPS AND DOWNS
The oddsmakers continue to do their best job posting Over/Under totals on Super Bowl games. That’s confirmed by the fact that there have been 29 ‘Overs’ and 27 ‘Unders’ in the history of the big game – with no total available in the inaugural game.
FYI: Only 15 of the 57 Super Bowls have been decided by one score (8 or fewer points) or less.
PROP IT UP
The mother lode of Super Bowl props will be posted approximately 4-5 days before the big game by Jay Kornegay at the Westgate Super Book in Las Vegas. Two words of caution: 1) the betting public bets on the “yes” and “over” occurrences. The sharps shop the value and play the “no” and the “under” props; and 2) beware of the ‘get rich quick’ props.
The lure of overtime and safeties will be out there, but remember, only ONE Super Bowl game has ever gone to overtime (Super Bowl LI), and only 6 of the previous 57 Super Bowls have witnessed a safety, with the last coming in 2013. Courtesy of VSiN.com – http://tinyurl.com/4d4ew9hm – these are some of the props that have yet to cash over the past 22 Super Bowls…
• Each team to have a TD and a FG in each half: 0-22
• A punt return for a touchdown: 0-22
• Longest Field Goal Over 54.5 yards: 0-22
• Any player with 200+ receiving yards: 0-22
On the flip side, the shortest TD Under 3.5 yards is 21-1.
And, our favorite: Teams to score last in the Super Bowl win the game: YES, each of the last 14 games.
In retrospect, it’s a good thing there was no “in-game” wagering in the early 1990s. Especially considering that in 1993, Michael Jackson’s halftime performance in the Super Bowl had higher ratings than the game itself. Usher is this year’s halftime act. This year’s game is expected to top last year’s record-setting average audience of 115.1 million viewers. He’s even money to beat the King of Pop’s numbers. Chew on that.
Brock Purdy is in good company. There’s only been one quarterback to wear number 13 to start and win a Super Bowl: Kurt Warner for the St. Louis Rams in 2000. However, the uniform numbers favor Mahomes and his No. 15. He joins Bart Starr (Super Bowls 1 and 2), Earl Morrall (Super Bowl 5), and Jeff Hostetler (Super Bowl 25) as quarterbacks who’ve started and won a Super Bowl wearing No. 15.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Per Legal Sports Report: It is reported that $1.29 billion will be wagered on the upcoming game, a 19.4% increase from the previous Super Bowl. It is projected to be a significant day for sports betting operators across the 39 sports betting markets in the US, with over 175 million individuals able to place wagers on Super Bowl 58.
In addition, with the sports betting industry continuing to grow across the US, more and more adults can place wagers nationwide. In fact, one state that should see a massive handle for the game is New York, which has become a top area for wagering since it rolled out sports betting in January of 2022.
However, LSR predicts that Nevada will be on top with a $170 million handle, followed by New York with $140 million. The third place looks to belong to New Jersey, with a projected $115 million in bets. As such, the top five sports betting states bring in more than $621.9 million in bets for the game, or around 56.5% of all bets.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As we alluded to in previous PLAYBOOK Playoff Guides this postseason, when push comes to shove, you have a better chance of safely walking through a minefield when it comes to beating the lethal combination of defense and experience in big games.
Remember this when walking up to the window on Super Sunday: Teams arriving to a Super Bowl game off a point spread loss are 3-8 SU and 2-8-1 ATS since 1980. Those coming in off an SU win as an underdog in the Championship Round are 19-7-1 ATS.
Do the math. We’re doing the Chiefs… KANSAS CITY OVER SAN FRANCISCO BY 3