AFTER CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
2019 Overall Tally: 141 – 118 – 7 .544 Cumulative Totals: 53 – 55 – 1 .491
Conf. Championship Playoff Picks: 0 – 2 Playoffs Overall Tally: 4 – 5 – 1
Conf. Championship Totals Picks: 1 – 1 Playoffs Overall Totals: 4 – 6
Weekly Specials 1 – 1 – 1 Cumulative Specials: 34 – 35 – 2 .493
GAME OF THE WEEK 6 – 14 LOCK OF THE WEEK 12 – 7
UPSET SPECIAL 10– 8 – 2 O/U OF THE WEEK 8 – 11
GAME OF THE WEEK & O/U SPECIAL
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS(15-3) @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (14-4) -1 54.5 [O]
SUPER BOWL LIV
Handicapping a Super Bowl is unique in that both teams are usually excellent and the match-ups and stats favoring either squad aren't as weighty as they can be during the year. Basically, both teams are excellent in more than one aspect of the game.
However, there are "keys" to predicting the SB winning team based on newly inducted HOFer Gil Brandt's top ten factors, my amendments and additions to same, and plain common sense--i.e this year the Chiefs will enter Hard Rock stadium with the far superior QB and head coach. At this level those are perhaps the two most determinative factors--but it isn't a lost cause for the Niners.
San Fran has an all to often unheralded advantage—they are the most balanced team in the league. They lead the NFL in rushing; yet, pass the ball 48% of the time. Their defense has no weakness; San Fran has the balance advantage on defense as well.
The Niners and the Pats were the only two teams to give up less than 300 YPG.
In the current state of the NFL, that is a fantastic feat.
The Gold Miners are granite solid in nearly every facet of the game and that usually spells doom even for a quality opponent like the Chiefs.
Okay, we buy San Fran’s defense is superb—but they have had enough hiccups to swing this handicapper’s pendulum KC’s way.
They gave up a seriously depleted Cardinals team 51 points in their two annual meetings. In Week 16—needing a win to force a showdown for the NFC West title--they allowed a mediocre Rams squad 31 points and won by a field goal. I guess we can attribute all of that to division rivalries and the teams knowing each other. Or can we...
In Week 14 Drew Brees nearly shattered the Niners’ granite for 389 yards, five TDs, 8.7 YPP, and a paltry 138.9 passer rating.
Patrick Mahomes QB rating for the year leads the league at 131.5
The Arrowheads will play the run and make Jimmy Handsome beat them. He just might. Garoppolo doesn’t have to be anything more than average and just protect the football for his team to stay in the game.
Kyle Shanahan’s resume still suffers from the 28-3 debacle against the Cheaters. And Niners fans can correctly point to Andy Reid’s inability to get over the hump as being an equally meaningful demerit.
Consider these interesting trends courtesy of Oddsshark.com:
· As of January 30, 53 percent of the public consensus are backing the Chiefs -1.5 and 61 percent are on the OVER 54.5.
· Both teams are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS away from their home stadiums this season.
· The Chiefs have won eight consecutive games by an average margin of 16.13 points.
· The 49ers were 8-1 SU when Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 248 or more yards during the regular season. The OVER hit in six of those nine games.
· The Chiefs were 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS when Patrick Mahomes passed for 275 or more yards in the regular season and postseason.
· In his 15th season, referee Bill Vinovich will head the Super Bowl 54 officiating crew. Since 2012, favorites are 3-7 SU and 2-8 ATS in playoff games reffed by Vinovich.
We, like nearly every pundit, could predict Robert Saleh’s defense will frustrate Mahomes given a superb pass rush led by DROY, Nick Bosa.
But we won’t.
Deep Stats say otherwise—especially late in the game. The Niners will rush the QB primarily with four men—exactly the kind of defense that frustrates a passer who loves the deep ball, but it also deflates the defensive linemen when they can’t finish.
Another problem is, even when San Fran goes to man, mostly on third down, Mahomes takes less sacks and can run for big gains. So even though Cover three teams like the Chargers had success against Mahomes, Any Reid will come up with a scheme to frustrate Saleh and his minions. The guy is one of the best play callers in NFL history.
Look for KC to come out throwing—short crosses and digs to exploit dead spots in the zones and then hit the long ball when the Prospectors go to man.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Arrowheads will also come out with endless motion because the vaunted Niners “D” becomes pedestrian trying to figure out what’s going on.
Here’s a small sample of Mehta’s brilliant analysis, which gives us a snapshot as to why San Fran’s defense might struggle.
Pre-snap motioning has flummoxed Shanahan’s defense. Opponents have a 28 percent higher success rate against San Francisco if they use pre-snap movement. Opposing quarterbacks’ passer ratings jumps by an eye-opening 56 points. The 49ers have not had a sack all season when an opponent used pre-snap motioning.
The Chiefs were fifth in the NFL with pre-snap motioning 55 percent of the time, which is the most for any 49ers’ opponent by a significant margin.
Reid’s calling card has been devising creative schemes with pre-snap movement.
It’s exactly the style that the 49ers have had trouble with this season.
According to the Manish, KC’s reliance on play action will only make things worse for the Niners.
Every football fan who scoffs at the value of analytics as a handicapping tool should read Mehta’s superb column:
THE FLIP SIDE
San Francisco burdens the Chiefs defense with a much simpler challenge—stop the run game at all costs and challenge Jimmy G to beat you with his arm.
Of course, Garoppolo, George Kittle, Deebo Samuels and Emmanuel Sanders—along with the NFL’s most talented stable of running backs can beat anyone. Garoppolo is a legitimate top ten QB with a lot of top shelf weapons at his disposal, but he has yet been called upon to carry his team.
The Gairzo doesn’t think it matters if he can.
I’m betting his defense won’t be the best on the field in Super Bowl 54. Consider:
· Since a Week 10, 35-32 loss to the Titans, KC has given up 124 points—15.5 PPG…Hasn’t lost a game…Came back from 21 and 10 point deficits in two playoff games…and gave up 40+ YPG rushing...Against two of the hottest teams in the league…
· Since a Week 10 27-24 loss to the Seahawks, SF has given up 211 points--26.4 PPG, lost two games, then dominated clearly overmatched playoff opponents.
Given all of the above, I’ll give up the useless point to San Fran, knowing this will be a close one to the wire. Andy Reid cements his future HOF induction; Travis Kelce is your MVP—The Over is our confident call in this one…
Chiefs 36 49ers 31
Super Bowl Lines 2020 - NFL Line for Super Bowl LIV (54) Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 2/2/20
NFL Football Lines - Super Bowl Line
Date & Time Favorite Line Underdog Total
2/2 6:30 ET Kansas City [O] -1 San Francisco 54.5