Super Bowl Wager Breakdown

Kansas City vs Tampa Bay
Wager: TB +3.5
Sizing: 1 unit

Spread breakdown: The super bowl is the most bet on sporting event in the world. Getting your bet in as early as possible is more important than ever, so we literally made and recommended our bet as soon as the conference championships ended. That enabled us to get in at the Bucs +3.5, but the line quickly shifted to 3.0, where it’s remained ever since. I was obnoxious this season stressing about getting bets in as early as possible and will continue to be.

We did run the model with a 3 point spread, and the model still favors the Bucs. If you can get +3 -110, I’m fine with that, though it’s definitely a toss up. Anything worse then -110, I’d lay off. If you got in at 3.5, enjoy your extra half point. Getting 3.5 when the closing line ends up being 3 is the largest .5 point there is in betting football spreads.

Injury breakdown: As usual, the extra week gives both teams a chance to get healthy. The Chiefs biggest issue is on their offensive line, where they’ll be without both of their star tackles. Mitchell Schwartz, an immovable object who typically plays right tackle, suffered a back injury week 6 and has been out ever since. In the conference championship, LT Eric Fisher tore his Achilles. LG Kelechi Osemele has been out since week 5 (knee), though he’s easily replaceable. After Fischer went down in the conference championship, Mike Remmers shifted from right tackle to left tackle, Andrew Wylie shifted from right guard to right tackle, and Stefen Wisniewski came in off the bench to play right guard. Wisniewski was waived the Steelers back in November. Here’s how bad things are for the line:

In other Chiefs injury news, RB Le’Veon Bell (knee) will return after missing the conference championship. Expect that to make zero difference on the game, but you’ll want to know it if you’re playing DFS. WR Sammy Watkins (calf) should return for his first game since week 16. Though Watkins is questionable, he got in a full practice Friday. The full practice is a dead giveaway that he’s playing. I’d expect Watkins to be in Chiefs 2 WR sets, though he’s obviously not going to be 100%. LB Willie Gay (ankle) will miss, though he’s not a major difference maker at one of the least important positions in modern football.

The Bucs were without WR Antonio Brown (knee) for the conference championships. He’s questionable, but got in two full practices, so he isn’t really questionable. TE Cam Brate (back) popped up on the injury report Thursday as limited, then did not practice Friday. PerĀ Adam Schefter, he is expected to play baring any set backs. The Bucs were playing part of the conference championships without either of their starting safeties — but neither Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) nor Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) are carrying injury tags, so both will play.’

Matchup breakdown: Essentially every metric worth discussing agrees — the Chiefs are the second best offense in football behind Green Bay, according to DVOA, PFF Elo, and EPA/play. Pat Mahomes finished 4th in PFF grades, completing 66.3% of his passes (-0.9% below expectation), gaining 8.1 yards per attempt with 38 TDs and 7 picks. The state of the Chiefs offensive line is mentioned above, which isn’t ideal against a Bucs pass rush that ranked 8th in PFF grades are only boosted now that Vita Vea is back healthy. Mahomes is a QB that does tend to invite pressure — his average time to throw of 2.71 was 6th slowest in the league — but he also excels under pressure. Mahomes ranked 11th in passer rating under pressure (78.5) and has an extremely healthy 77.5 PFF grade. Mahomes was also sacked on just 9.9% of his dropbacks, which was tied for lowest in the league behind Big Ben, despite being pressured on 34% of his drop backs, which was 13th highest in the league. The Bucs certainly have an advantage in the trenches, but Pat Mahomes is still Pat Mafuckinghomes. The receiving core essentially needs no mention — Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are one of the better 1-2 punches in football. The Bucs defense ranks 25th in DVOA against tight ends, but are 6th in DVOA against number 1 receivers. Tampa’s defense finished the season 5th overall in DVOA and 5th against the passs. They’re obviously no slouch, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Chiefs don’t put up a 30 burger.

The Bucs on offense are 3rd in DVOA, 5th in PFF ELO, and 5th in EPA/play. Tom goddamn Brady. I don’t need to spend much time writing about Brady and his unprecedented 10th super bowl appearance, you can read plenty about that here or here or here or here or here or here or.. yeah, you get the point. Instead, I’d like to focus on his quality of play this season.

PFF grades: 2nd (92.6)
Passing EPA/play: 5th (0.247)
EPA+CPOE Composite: 6th (0.163)
DYAR: 3rd (1,517)

If we took a tiered approach to ranking QBs this season, you’d put Rodgers and Mahomes in tier 1 with Brady leading a pack of tier 2 QBs. He’s still, somehow, incredibly good at football. PFF ranks him ahead in other metrics because they grade based on the quality of the throw — so if you throw a deep bomb on the money but your receiver drops it, you still get credit in their system. The Bucs receivers are awesome (more on that later), but they failed Brady at several points this season. Keep in mind, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both missed time this season, and Antonio Brown didn’t come on till later. The Bucs receivers were charged with 33 drops in 2020, second most in the league. 6.94% of Brady’s throws were labeled as “big time throws” from PFF, where only 2.14% of his passes are considered “turnover worthy” — both of those numbers are better than Mahomes’s. Also, forget about any Checkdown Tom nonsense — Brady attempted 91 deep passes this season (passes that traveled more than 20 yards down field), by far the most in the league (second was Ryan with 78). He wasn’t particularly successful on those passes — his 42.9% adjusted completion percentage (counts drops as completions) was 23rd in the league among 39 qualifiers.

If we took a tiered approach to ranking QBs this season, you’d put Rodgers and Mahomes in tier 1 with Brady leading a pack of tier 2 QBs. He’s still, somehow, incredibly good at football. PFF ranks him ahead in other metrics because they grade based on the quality of the throw — so if you throw a deep bomb on the money but your receiver drops it, you still get credit in their system. The Bucs receivers are awesome, but they failed Brady at several points this season. Keep in mind, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both missed time this season, and Antonio Brown didn’t come on till later. The Bucs receivers were charged with 33 drops in 2020, second most in the league. 6.94% of Brady’s throws were labeled as “big time throws” from PFF, where only 2.14% of his passes are considered “turnover worthy” — both of those numbers are better than Mahomes’s. Also, forget about any Checkdown Tom nonsense — Brady attempted 91 deep passes this season (passes that traveled more than 20 yards down field), by far the most in the league (second was Ryan with 78). He wasn’t particularly successful on those passes — his 42.9% adjusted completion percentage (counts drops as completions) was 23rd in the league among 39 qualifiers. The Bucs also have one of the better offensive lines in football, and a phenomenal receiving trio. The Chiefs on defense are 22nd in DVOA and 19th in EPA/play. Their pass rush is lead by DT Chris Jones, who is probably the best interior rusher in football not named Aaron Donald. If there’s a part of the Bucs line to pick on, it’s the right side of the interior, but I still take the Bucs in the trenches. The Chiefs are much better vs the pass (16th in DVOA) then the run (31st), thanks to a solid trio of corners. As good as the corners have been, they still have an extremely difficult matchup, and I like the Bucs in that matchup as well. The one win for the Chiefs is they rank 3rd in DVOA against deep passes, which might force the Bucs off their preferred game plan.

Other fun stuff: The Bucs are pussies on 4th down, ranking 31st in aggressiveness per rbsdm.com. The Chiefs are 4th most aggressive. Arians will need to grow a pair on 4th down if he wants to keep up with the Chiefs.

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