Both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were instilled as big favorites for the Conference Championship round, and they showed us why on Sunday. They each went on to easy covers to set up a heavyweight battle in the Super Bowl. If you are not a fan of any of the four teams that played this weekend, you have to feel like the Chiefs/49ers matchup was the best possible option for the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LIV should feature an interesting contrast of styles. The Chiefs want to air it out with their MVP quarterback as much as possible. Meanwhile, the 49ers would be content to run every play. Kansas City would like to play a shootout, but San Francisco wants as ugly of a game as possible. Veteran coach Andy Reid is looking for the Super Bowl title that has thus far eluded his illustrious career. He has the second-most playoff victories of all time, trailing only Bill Belichick. Kyle Shanahan is looking for his first championship in just his third year as a head coach. Any way you slice it, Super Bowl LIV is full of storylines and is sure to be a great game.
Here is a look at the early Super Bowl LIV line and predicted movement (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
Sunday, February 2nd – 6:20 PM EST
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)
I expect two types of serious bettors to wager on the Super Bowl. Some will analyze the two teams’ entire seasons and their journeys to the Super Bowl. Others will focus on more on the here-and-now, specifically what each team did in the playoffs. Those that will look at the whole body of work will have a tough time deciding who has been more impressive. At 13-3, the 49ers earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC, largely thought to be the much tougher and deeper conference this year. They were pushed to the brink in a tough division, but they had just three wins over playoff teams in the regular season.
Kansas City finished 12-4, but they barely earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. They needed a gift from the New England Patriots in Week 17 to earn the No. 2 seed. However, Patrick Mahomes missed two regular-season games with a knee injury, and Kansas City went 1-1 in those games with Matt Moore under center. If they had gone 2-0, they would have finished with the same record as the 49ers. Though they played in a weaker division, they also had three wins over playoff teams in the regular season, including dominance over the best teams in the AFC (the Ravens and Patriots).
When looking at how each has fared in the postseason, it is hard not to be more impressed with the 49ers. They never trailed in either game, dominating each from start to finish. Though they had just a 14-10 halftime lead over the Vikings, they still held Minnesota to just 147 total yards and seven first downs for the entire game. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s playoff run has been much more uneven. They trailed Houston by 24 points and Tennessee by 10 before exerting their dominance and winning each by double digits.
Super Bowls are rarely “pros vs. joes” games, but this has all the makings of one. Regardless of how Kansas City started both of their playoff games, the fact is they went on to two easy covers. They averaged 43 PPG in their two wins, and they are quite obviously the more “sexy” of the two teams. The public has been enamored with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes all year long, and that is not likely to change now.
The sharps are likely to get behind the 49ers. While they are not as aesthetically pleasing as the Chiefs, they still get the job done. Jimmy Garoppolo attempted just two passes in the second half, and he threw for 77 total yards. However, Raheem Mostert became the first player in playoff history to run for 200+ yards and four touchdowns. While the box score will show that the 49ers defense allowed 20 points, all of them came after halftime after they held a 27-0 lead. No one will fault them for allowing three touchdowns, as they were likely in a prevent mode of sorts, trying to drain the game clock faster.
The public support for the Chiefs is likely to outweigh the amount of sharp 49ers backers. Therefore, if the spread moves at all, it’s likely going to be in Kansas City’s favor. I do not expect this number to rise all the way to the key number of three, however. If it gets to 2.5, there should be plenty of buyback on the underdog 49ers.
The number that should have the most variance throughout the next two weeks is the over/under. At 52.5, it is tied for the highest total of any playoff game so far this year. However, these two teams finished seventh and eighth respectively in terms of PPG allowed in the regular season. The 49ers defense will look to get pressure on Patrick Mahomes with their front four, so they can drop seven in coverage. It will be interesting to see how much Kyle Shanahan lets Jimmy Garoppolo throw. Either way, there is a lot of pressure on these players on the biggest stage in the world. Taking all these factors into consideration, do not be surprised if the game kicks off with a total closer to 50.