Super Bowl props numerous, valuable

By Steve Makinen  (Point Spread Weekly editor) 

Super Bowl Sunday offers a ton of prop betting options unavailable for the average NFL game. You can wager on specific play results, the timing of certain results, team and individual stats and plenty more. I’ll address the individual stats option, using some statistical forecasting methods I’ve learned over the years in studying sports data. Having been an oddsmaker for the last 10 years, I’ve used these methods in my submissions for some of the world’s most noteworthy sportsbooks. But the numbers herein are my own projections and were not offered to any other industry entity on either side of the counter.

I will start by projecting the scores, time of possession and yardage for Super Bowl LV, then expand into the individual players and their projected output based on these overall numbers. For enhanced accuracy, I have used only the last 10 meaningful games for each team, assuming the performances in that span were more indicative of the teams and the quality of opponents they faced. So I did not include the Chiefs’ Week 17 loss to the Chargers, as Kansas City rested a number of starters. Neither the betting line nor the result of that game was indicative of reality.

Let’s start by looking at some overall projections for the game, using my Effective Stats method as the basis for calculation. This method takes into account the team’s performance against weighted averages of its opponents. In other words, strength of schedule is built in.

Overall Game Score Using Effective Scoring Calculations

To show you an example of how I calculate the Effective Score projections based on the last 10 games, here are the last 10 games’ Effective Points For and Against for both teams. I will show the 10-game numbers only for this first calculation to illustrate how I’ve done it.

Kansas City Effective Offensive Points for Last 10 Games:

29.42, 33.34, 31.86, 28.62, 19.8, 45.53, 38.28, 16.44, 20.00, 41.49

Tampa Bay Effective Offensive Points for Last 10 Games: 

44.66, 31.34, 27.34, 23.12, 30.51, 36.88, 43.48, 36.76, 35.94, 33.21

Using my forecast model, here are the Effective Offensive Points projections for Super Bowl LV:

Kansas City: 30.24

Tampa Bay: 35.78

Applying the same statistical methods for the defensive performances, here are the Effective Defensive Points projections:

Kansas City: 16.41

Tampa Bay: 18.81

Along with a few colleagues in the industry, I typically estimate that two-thirds of the scoring output is dictated by the offenses. Using that ratio, the score projection would be:

Last 10 Games’ Effective Scoring Forecast: Tampa Bay 29.32, Kansas City 26.43

The total of 55.75 matches the actual total projection much more closely than a 50/50 offense/defense split would have. But obviously in this method, Tampa Bay is expected to be a 3-point favorite. We’ll see if that changes using an Effective Yards Per Play method for calculating the score.

Overall Game Score Using Effective Yardage Calculations

Overall Time of Possession/Forecasted Scrimmage Plays

Kansas City effective time-of-possession forecast: 30.7 minutes

Tampa Bay effective time-of-possession forecast: 29.7 minutes

Naturally, we can’t have more than 60 minutes projected. Adjusted for a 60-minute game, here are the forecasts:

Kansas City: 30.5 minutes (or 30:30)

Tampa Bay: 29.5 minutes (or 29:30)

Over the last 10 meaningful games, Kansas City has averaged 2.47 plays per minute of possession, while Tampa Bay has averaged 2.20. Thus, the expected number of plays run by each team in Super Bowl LV would be:

Kansas City: 74.84 plays

Tampa Bay: 64.9 plays

Moving now to the Effective Yards Per Play calculations for the last 10 games and using the same method I did for the scoring, here are the forecasts for Super Bowl LV:

Kansas City offensive yards-per-play forecast: 6.44

Tampa Bay offensive yards-per-play forecast: 6.67

Kansas City defensive yards-per-play forecast: 5.5

Tampa Bay defensive yards-per-play forecast: 5.48

Using the two-thirds offense, one-third defense formula, here are the forecasted total yards per play:

Kansas City: 6.12 ypp

Tampa Bay: 6.28 ypp

Thus, the total yardage projections would be as follows:

Kansas City: 458.0 total yards

Tampa Bay: 407.6 total yards

Applying Effective Yards Per Point totals obtained over the teams’ last 10 meaningful games using the same two-thirds offense, one-third defense ratio, the score forecasted with the yardage method would be:

Last 10 Games’ Effective Yardage Score Forecast: Tampa Bay 27.23, Kansas City 25.81

This projection is a little lower on the total than the score method, and in this one, Tampa Bay would be about a 1.5-point favorite. It is indicating that while Kansas City might win the yardage battle, Tampa Bay has proven more efficient lately and thus could win on the scoreboard despite the yardage deficiency.

Projecting Team Stats

Using the assumptions that Kansas City would total 458 yards on 74.84 plays and Tampa Bay would gain 407.6 yards on 64.9 plays, the number of runs and passes for each team would be broken down as follows:

Kansas City runs: 27.2 runs (effective run% 36.4%)

Kansas City passes: 47.6 passes (effective pass% 63.6%)

Tampa Bay runs: 22.7 runs (effective run% 34.9%)

Tampa Bay passes: 42.2 passes (effective pass% 65.1%)

Using the consistent two-thirds offense, one-third defense rules, here are the expected rushing and passing yards per attempt and total yards:

Kansas City: 4.83 ypr for 131.4 yards rushing

Tampa Bay: 4.14 ypr for 94.0 yards rushing

Kansas City: 6.86 pya for 326.6 yards passing (335.4 accounted for QB before sacks)

Tampa Bay: 7.43 pya for 313.6 yards passing (321.7 accounted for QB before sacks)

With Effective Completion Percentages of Kansas City at 67.1% and Tampa Bay at 63.8%, the expected number of completions would be:

Kansas City: 31.9 completions

Tampa Bay: 26.9 completions

These are the key stat projections I will use to forecast the individual contributions to those totals.


Quarterbacks’ Passing Stats

I’ve basically already laid out the projected stats for the quarterbacks. Here they are redisplayed with the actual prop odds according to South Point as of Friday and the projected wager.


Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 31.9 (SP odds: 26.5) — Over

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 26.9 (SP odds: 25.5) — Over


Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 47.6 (SP odds: 40) — Over

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 42.2 (SP odds: 38.5) — Over

Passing Yards

Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 335.4 (SP odds: 315.5) — Over

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 321.7 (SP odds: 295.5) — Over

Longest Completion

Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 42.3 (SP odds: 45.5) — Under

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 41.6 (SP odds: 40.5) — Over

Quarterbacks’ Rushing Stats

Here are the projections for rushing attempts, yards and longest rush for the starting quarterbacks.


Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 3.3 (SP odds: 5.5) — Under

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 1.6 (SP odds: 1.5) — Over

Rushing Yards

Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 15.2 (SP odds: 30.5) — Under

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection -0.3 (SP odds: 0.5) — Under

Longest Rush

Patrick Mahomes (K.C.): projection 13.2 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Tom Brady (T.B.): projection 1 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Running Backs’ Rushing Stats

Here are my forecasted running backs’ rushing stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier.


Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 9.9 (SP odds: 10.5) — Under

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 6.4 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.): projection 5.8 (SP odds: 9.5) — Under

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 10.6 (SP odds: 10.5) — Over

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 7.3 (SP odds: 10.5) — Under

Ke’Shawn Vaughn (T.B.): projection 1.9 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 0.9 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Rushing Yards

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 39.8 (SP odds: 45.5) — Under

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 23.1 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.): projection 28.8 (SP odds: 40.5) — Under

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 54.1 (SP odds: 43.5) — Over

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 30.3 (SP odds: 43.5) — Under

Ke’Shawn Vaughn (T.B.): projection 5.2 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 3.3 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Longest Rush

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 9.7 (SP odds: 11.5) — Under

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 9.4 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.): projection 8.3 (SP odds: 10.5) — Under

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 12.7 (SP odds: 11.5) — Over

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 12.5 (SP odds: 11.5) — Over

Ke’Shawn Vaughn (T.B.): projection 4.3 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 4.3 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Running Backs’ Receiving Stats

Here are my forecasted running backs’ receiving stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier.


Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 2.1 (SP odds: 2.5) — Under

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 1.4 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.): projection 1.9 (SP odds: 2.5) — Under

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 4.5 (SP odds: 3.5) — Over

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 1.2 (SP odds: 1.5) — Under

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 1.4 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Receiving Yards

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 11.6 (SP odds: 19.5) — Under

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 9.5 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.): projection 9.8 (SP odds: 18.5) — Under

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 31.0 (SP odds: 22.5) — Over

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 8.3 (SP odds: 10.5) — Under

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 10.2 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Longest Reception

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C.): projection 8.0 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Le’Veon Bell (K.C.): projection 7.6 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Darrel Williams (K.C.) : projection 7.1 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Leonard Fournette (T.B.): projection 13.7 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Ronald Jones (T.B.): projection 7.5 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

LeSean McCoy (T.B.): projection 7.3 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Wide Receivers’ Receiving Stats

Here are my forecasted wide receivers’ receiving stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier.


Tyreek Hill (K.C.): projection 6.8 (SP odds: 7) — Under

Sammy Watkins (K.C.): projection 3.3 (SP odds: 2.5) — Over

Mecole Hardman (K.C.): projection 2.9 (SP odds: 2.5) — Over

Demarcus Robinson (K.C.): projection 2.6 (SP odds: 2.5) — Over

Byron Pringle (K.C.): projection 2.4 (SP odds: 1.5) — Over

Chris Godwin (T.B.): projection 4.6 (SP odds: 5.5) — Under

Antonio Brown (T.B.): projection 4.4 (SP odds: 4.0) — Over

Mike Evans (T.B.): projection 4.0 (SP odds: 4.5) — Under

Tyler Johnson (T.B.): projection 1.3 (SP odds: 0.5) — Over

Scotty Miller (T.B.): projection 1.1 (SP odds: 1.5) — Under

Receiving Yards

Tyreek Hill (K.C.): projection 91.8 (SP odds: 102.5) — Under

Sammy Watkins (K.C.): projection 36.3 (SP odds: 27.5) — Over

Mecole Hardman (K.C.): projection 30.0 (SP odds: 32.5) — Under

Demarcus Robinson (K.C.): projection 28.2 (SP odds: 27.5) — Over

Byron Pringle (K.C.): projection 15.8 (SP odds: 18.5) — Under

Chris Godwin (T.B.): projection 64.8 (SP odds: 74.5) — Under

Antonio Brown (T.B.): projection 49.8 (SP odds: 43.5) — Over

Mike Evans (T.B.): projection 61.1 (SP odds: 67.5) — Under

Tyler Johnson (T.B.): projection 16.7 (SP odds: 9.5) — Over

Scotty Miller (T.B.): projection 20.9 (SP odds: 21.5) — Under

Longest Reception

Tyreek Hill (K.C.): projection 38.0 (SP odds: 34.5) — Over

Sammy Watkins (K.C.): projection 20.0 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Mecole Hardman (K.C.): projection 19.9 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Demarcus Robinson (K.C.): projection 19.9 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Byron Pringle (K.C.): projection 11.3 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Chris Godwin (T.B.): projection 30.3 (SP odds: 25.5) — Over

Antonio Brown (T.B.): projection 22.1 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Mike Evans (T.B.): projection 25.0 (SP odds: 23.5) — Over

Tyler Johnson (T.B.): projection 15.0 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Scotty Miller (T.B.): projection 20.0 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Tight Ends’ Receiving Stats

Here are my forecasted tight ends’ receiving stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier.


Travis Kelce (K.C.): projection 8.4 (SP odds: 8.5) — Under

Cameron Brate (T.B.): projection 2.7 (SP odds: 3) — Under

Rob Gronkowski (T.B.): projection 1.7 (SP odds: 2.5) — Under

Receiving Yards

Travis Kelce (K.C.): projection 97.8 (SP odds: 105.5) — Under

Cameron Brate (T.B.): projection 30.8 (SP odds: 34.5) — Under

Rob Gronkowski (T.B.): projection 28.9 (SP odds: 28.5) — Over

Longest Reception

Travis Kelce (K.C.): projection 25.4 (SP odds: 25.5) — Under

Cameron Brate (T.B.): projection 14.7 (SP odds: N/A) — ?

Rob Gronkowski (T.B.): projection 21.1 (SP odds: 14.5) — Over

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