The two-week wait is finally over. Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday.
Professional bettors, casual bettors and football fans in general couldn't have asked for a better or more exciting Super Bowl 54 matchup in the NFL's 100th season. Both teams dominated their respective conferences in the regular season and rolled through the playoffs. The Chiefs are making their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years while the 49ers are back for the first time since 1995.
San Francisco (15-3) is a perfect 5-0 ATS as a dog. The 49ers started the season a perfect 8-0 SU. Their only losses came in Week 10 against Seattle (lost 27-24 as 6.5-point favorites), Week 13 at Baltimore (lost 20-17 but covered at 5.5-point dogs) and Week 15 against Atlanta (lost 29-22 as 10.5-point favorites). The 49ers won and covered both of their playoff games, beating Minnesota 27-10 at 7-point favorites in the Divisional Round and then taking down Green Bay 37-20 as 8-point favorites in the NFC Championship.
Kansas City (14-4) is 12-5-1 ATS overall, including 10-4-1 ATS as a favorite and 2-1 ATS as a dog. The Chiefs enter the big game as the hottest team in football, having finished the regular season with six straight victories and then posting two more wins (and covers) in the playoffs. Kansas City crushed Houston 51-31 as 10-point favorites in the Divisional Round and then beat the Tennessee 35-24 as 7-point favorites in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs only losses this year came in Week 5 against Indianapolis (lost 19-13 as 10.5-point favorites), Week 6 against Houston (lost 31-24 as 3.5-point favorites), Week 8 against Green Bay (lost 31-24 at 5-point dogs) and Week 10 at Tennessee (lost 35-32 as 5-point favorites).
For more analysis and betting updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m. ET to 12-noon on The Lombardi Line. Michael and I will be coming to you live from the Moneyline Bar and Book at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Come and say hi!
Now let's discuss where the smart money is flowing for Sunday's big game.
6:30 p.m. ET: San Francisco 49ers (15-3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (14-4)
The Super Bowl line opened at a pick'em. Oddsmakers typically award 3 points for home-field advantage. The fact that this line opened at a pick'em on a neutral field signals a true coin-flip game in the eyes of the sportsbooks. The public is backing Kansas City. Just under two-thirds of tickets have come down on the Chiefs, which pushed the line up to Kansas City -1.5. That's when some 49ers buyback hit the market. The line now sits at 1.5 or 1 across the market. There are trends in favor of both teams. Super Bowl teams receiving at least a half-point of line movement in their favor (like Kansas City) have gone 9-5 ATS (64.3%) since 2003. However, dogs (like San Francisco) have performed well in the Super Bowl historically, going 10-6 ATS (62%) since 2003 and 7-9 on the moneyline (only 44% but 5 units due to the plus-money payouts). San Francisco also has value as a contrarian dog with an inflated line in what will be one of the most heavily bet games in Super Bowl history.
This is also a clash of old school vs new school. Today's fantasy-driven NFL is geared toward offense and points, which favors the high-flying Chiefs. However, the adage of defense and running the ball favors the 49ers. As our very own Brent Musburger noted, the 49ers averaged 144 rushing yards per-game while the Chiefs averaged fewer than 100 yards per-game. Teams that run the ball better than their opponent are 40-13 straight up in the Super Bowl and 37-13-3 ATS (74%).
In terms of the quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo is 17-10-1 ATS (63%) in his career, including 8-8-1 ATS (50%) as a favorite but 9-2 ATS (82%) as a dog. Patrick Mahomes is 22-11-2 ATS in his career, including 17-11-1 (61%) as a favorite and 5-0-1 ATS (100%) as a dog.
The over/under opened at 51.5. The public sees two teams averaging roughly 30 points-per-game and automatically thinks shootout. More than eight-out-of-10 bets are taking the over, making it one of the most lopsided Super Bowl total bets in recent memory. This heavy, one-sided action has forced bookmakers to adjust the total all the way up to 55. That's when we've seen some sharp buyback hit the under, dropping the line down to 54 or even 53.5 across the market. Historically, when the total is 50 or more the under has gone 4-1 in Super Bowls since 2003.
It's also important to note that this game will be played outdoors at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, not inside a dome or closed roof stadium. The forecast calls for comfortable temperatures in the mid 60s but also 8-10 MPH winds. Outdoor playoff unders are 77-60 (56.2%) since 2003. Bill Vinovich, the lead ref, has historically faved the under (58%). Both teams have been slightly profitable to the over this season, with San Francisco 9-8-1 and Kansas City 10-8.