Carl asked me to wrap up the season with something to line his pockets. His beef today is looking righteous, so I set his odds of having a good day at -10000 regardless, but I'm here to sprinkle some giardiniera cash over the top.
Over the past two weeks, you've heard this game analyzed a million different ways, so I'm going a bit off the beaten path of strictly talking X's and O's. Bear with me, or don't. It's your life, baby.
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Chiefs vs. Niners; 5:30pm CT
Official Pick #1: Niners +1
Action: 57% of bets on the Chiefs, 55% of money on the Chiefs
I already told you to bet the Niners +165 to win the Super Bowl prior to them shit-pumping the Packers, and now I'm doubling down.
Both from a betting line and betting action perspective, this game is as close to a coin flip as possible. These teams match up beautifully and each one is nearly impossible to hate. Shanahan has redefined bully-ball with exhaustively sophisticated design, and the Chiefs have a generational QB who can find the end zone on any given play. This is why the line is nearly a pick'em and why the action is nearly at a 50/50 split.
The only negative stuff I've heard for either side is overhearing a small segment of old racist white dudes at a bar who reductively mislabeled Mahomes as a "reckless mobile quarterback getting by on talent." Believe it or not, in my lifetime on the Southside of Chicago, I've come across fellas like this once or twice (or hundreds of times).
Quick story of Southside racism for you:
During a test in high school, our teacher found an empty Flamin' Hot Cheetos bag crumpled on the floor. In a silent room, he audibly muttered "black people eat these..." like Sherlock Holmes cracking the case. Fucking everybody heard it. He isolated the black kids in class and demanded they stick out their tongues to check for red residue. His investigation came up empty. Not to worry though, the teacher saw no repercussions and continued to teach for many more years. Isn't that great?
I know the term "racist" can get thrown around a lot these days, but THAT, my friends, is *Chappelle chef's kiss* racism. Old fucks like him can hate on Mahomes and ignore what he is as a quarterback/leader/human while we all enjoy one of the most evenly-matched and entertaining Super Bowls of our lifetime.
With each unit peaking at the right time since recovering from mid-season injuries, this game is appropriately being billed as strength-on-strength: the elite KC offense vs. the elite SF defense.
But here are two key pieces that are flying under the radar:
1) San Francisco's defense is beatable:
Let me start by saying that the Niners D is very fucking good. With that said, they by no means have a historically-great defense.
What does the San Fran D want you to do as an opposing offense? They want you to be afraid of their pass D and start conservatively by attempting to establish the run. This inevitably will put you in obvious pass scenarios of 3rd and long, which is how the San Fran D eats. Quickly, your play-action will present no ground threat and your QB will have to take long drop-backs, so this gives the SF pass rush time to get to the QB and hurry a throw to plastered receivers. All it takes is a couple of failed 3rd and longs resulting in punts, and suddenly the Niners offense puts you down by double-digits. Now you're playing from behind, and it only becomes more obvious that you have to pass for the rest of the game. This is the formula.
The vast majority of San Fran's opponents this season were either ill-equipped or too scared to attack through the air, and the Niners feasted. It was only when opponents dared to aggressively pass from the onset of the game that the Niners D faltered.
This brings us to Andy Reid, who is aware of the following:
- He needs to take the early lead to soften SF's offensive rushing/play-action attack
- He needs to repair KC's disastrous First Quarter starts from the last two games
- The San Fran D struggles with heavy-WR sets, pre-snap motion, and play-action - all of which is KC's bread and butter
- The San Fran D is susceptible to early-down passing, so KC should pass aggressively in an attempt to ideally avoid 3rd downs altogether
- The San Fran D hasn't faced the best QB in the world with track-star speed at WR (there's a joke somewhere in here to reference how Tyreek Hill beats man coverage like he did his pregnant girlfriend or how he abuses secondaries like he ALLEGEDLY did his toddler, but I'm bigger than that)
This all translates to one thing: tempo. By getting to the line quickly, the Chiefs can mitigate against the Niners' adjustments/rotations, and by passing early, they can wear out the SF pass rush. It's all about doing what your opponent doesn't want you to do - and if the Chiefs adjust to ramp up their passing aggression against a San Fran D that has historically dissuaded opponents from that approach by reputation alone, the Chiefs will get themselves 24+.
2) Jimmy G is good.
This sexpot has averaged only 14 throws per game in the playoffs, and because of that, people are falsely concluding that Shanahan doesn't trust him in the postseason spotlight. But if your offense is cracking off 6 yards/carry, why would you ever pass?
Facing a bottom-5 Chiefs run D, I don't see the Niners run game slowing down. The Chiefs were able to contain Derrick Henry, but the Titans rushing offense relies heavily on bulldozing talent while the Niners rushing offense is endlessly versatile through scheme. It's checkers vs. chess. And knowing what San Fran can do through the air, Steve Spagnuolo won't be pulling that "goal line at midfield" shit that he pulled against Tennessee.
Since I anticipate KC to put up points, SF will eventually need to turn to Jimmy, and that is no problem whatsoever. This Niners passing attack ranks 3rd in yards/pass, 8th in passing offense DVOA, and 1st in explosive pass rate despite facing a strong slate of opposing pass defenses. And all the while, they've achieved this while having extremely low intended air yards per attempt. This means that Jimmy can make short-yardage/low-risk throws to guys who are either schemed wide-open with blockers by Shanahan and/or are absolute beasts after the catch, resulting in chunk plays. I just love how they reduce unexpected variables for reliable and replicable yardage, and Jimmy is the trigger man for it all.
The idea that the lights may be too bright for Garoppolo is fucking nonsense. You don't step foot on a date with Kiara Mia without confidence oozing out of your skull. That's a move reserved for a man who knows he can hang dong and slang wang at a moment's notice. This dude is gonna come out loose and ready to rip - no conscience. Jimmy is loving the doubters and embracing the opportunity to give them all a nice shit-burger to eat.
To sum this game up in one paragraph, the Chiefs offensive success will hinge on a more aggressive and higher-risk style of play than what they are accustomed to. They can put up points, but it will require 1) Andy Reid to impose an aggressive game plan early and 2) Mahomes & Co. to execute that high-wire act flawlessly. LOTS of variables. KC avoided the Pats and Ravens pass defenses in these playoffs, but now they're about to face elevated competition where high-risk play may not be rewarded so easily. As for the Niners offense, they're facing a KC D that will allow SF to do what they do best - run the shit outta the ball and air it out as needed with a style of play that limits risk. And if San Fran finds themselves in a situation where they need to ramp up their risk-taking, Jimmy G will be ready to go. Ultimately, the Niners defense will get the stops that the Chiefs defense won't. I expect San Fran to come out on top in a high-scoring affair.
MVP Player Props
I think Jimmy G will be the reason why the Niners win this game, but people will continue to attribute Jimmy's successes to anyone but Jimmy. This gives me some value on a couple of his receiving options.
Unofficial Pick: George "Greg" Kittle (+1000)
The NFL is craving a new Gronk, and Greg is the closest thing there is. He has a WWE personality and is a real-life bash brother. This savage has everything you would want out of a receiver: precise routes, great hands, and some serious "fuck you" yards after catch. This is why Greg has the highest receiving yard prop total of anyone in the game on either side (85 yards).
But here's why I really like this spot - the telecast will want to emphasize how Greg is a complete receiving + blocking tight end. On any given play, SF will have great blocks from 2-3 different guys, but the cameras and replay exposure will all go to Kittle. The KC linebackers are weak, so Kittle will be tossin' jabronis like he tosses his cookies in the pregame.
It is entirely possible for Stone Cold Kittle to get 100+ yards and 2 TDs while the telecast sucks his dick about blocking throughout the game. And if that happens, this prop hits.
Unofficial Pick: Emmanuel Sanders (+4000)
Totaling only 2 catches in the playoffs this year, Sanders is well off the radar. He's the polished downfield route-runner that the Niners have NOT needed in their past two games. Knowing that this game will be far from a cake-walk, Sanders' services may be crucial.
I can see Sanders getting a TD and several 3rd/4th down conversions in game-swinging spots. Considering that Shanahan may also call upon him to throw on an explosive trick play, we've got ourselves a viable MVP candidate at monster odds.
Unofficial Pick: Mecole Hardman (+6600)
Maybe Hardman is a terror in the return game and takes the opening kick to the house, or maybe I only included this prop as an excuse to drop this Devin Hester gif:
Do you remember the rest of that Super Bowl? I sure don't. Blacked out by the time Hester unbuckled his chinstrap. The Bears are your '06-'07 champions as far as I'm concerned.
Notable "do not bet": Patrick Mahomes (+125)
You might as well bet on KC because it's not guaranteed Mahomes wins if KC wins. The extreme popularity of this bet sucked all the value out of it.
Unofficial Live Betting Note: Over
I like the current Over of 54, but it's a bit inflated since the 51.5 open. I think both teams will score in bunches, but I recommend you give this total some time in the First Quarter to tick down before grabbing it live. As soon as you think to yourself, "this game's going Under," snatch the live Over. Any total below 51 is golden for the Over.
Yardage Prop Bets
Official Pick #2: Demarcus Robinson Under 20 receiving yards
Just make yourself some quick money here. Robinson is a freak-show athlete but a subpar WR. Picture a shittier version of Martavis Bryant. He simply lacks football sense and awareness of the moment, as we've seen drive-killing gaffes from him in huge spots throughout the year. KC does not trust him and he'll get very few opportunities in this one.
Official Pick #3: Kyle Juszczyk Over 9.5 receiving yards
Again, the Niners have controlled so many games this season that they've rarely needed to open up their passing attack. This game is an exception. Shanahan will deploy Juszczyk for a few targets, and Juszczyk won't drop a goddamn thing. And really, you gotta love when you can get a thrill from a fullback slipping out for a modest route. Let's get this one done by the 2nd quarter.
Length of National Anthem Prop Bet
Unofficial Pick: Under 2 mins (-110)
I grabbed this when it was inflated up to 2 mins 3 secs at plus odds, but we've recently seen some action bringing it back down.
I'm at a rare cross-section of NFL gambling analyst and die hard fan of various female pop artists of the past 25 years. You want me to sing some JoJo, Samantha Mumba, or Leona Lewis? I'm your guy. Need someone to un-ironically attend a Katy Perry, Ke$ha, or P!nk concert? Hate to brag, but I've been to all three.
But with today's National Anthem we look at Demi Lovato, who has banged some kool-aid jammers like "Sorry Not Sorry," "Cool for the Summer," and "Tell Me You Love Me." She's a powerhouse vocalist, and because of that, bettors are mistaking her for an attention-seeking diva by hammering the Over here in anticipation of an "all about me" performance. Yes, she belted her way through a 2-min 11-sec performance for the McGregor/Mayweather fight, but that was before she OD'ed on some H in 2018. Shit changes.
Over a year and a half since the overdose, Demi recently gave an emotionally honest performance at the Grammy's that I found to be fuckin beautiful. With everyone taking the Over on this prop bet, I think people are assuming that Demi will perform the National Anthem with the same level of emotion to cement her comeback. As I see it, she delivered her very personal performance, and now she can treat the Anthem with a lighter heart and nothing to prove. She doesn't want people to think that she's milking this for her benefit - this will be a clean, respectful, and tight performance. Gimme the Under all day.
Halftime Show Prop Bet
First of all, I'm gonna need J-Lo and Shakira to take swings at a giant piñata on stage until it bursts to reveal Pitbull. If I don't get Mr. 305 punching through papier-mâché, I'm out.
Which Shakira Song Will Be Sung First at Halftime?
Unofficial Pick: She Wolf +250
I'm picking this song not only because it brings back fond memories...
...but I've had a rule for myself since 2009 that I shotgun a beer whenever I hear "She Wolf." This self-imposed obligation has put me in some tough spots, but it's all been worth it. Don't ask me why, it is what it is: the She Wolf Shotgun.
- Drink a beer in the shower? = "Sha-brew"
- Shotgun a beer in the shower? = "Sha-brew-gun"
- Shotgun a beer while listening to "She Wolf" = "She Wolf Shotgun"
- Shotgun a beer while listening to "She Wolf" in the shower? = "She Wolf Sha-brew-gun"
All of them are time well-spent. If you disagree, buddy, you've got some growing up to do. Give 'em a whirl and come back to me.
Back to the bet - I'm not gonna miss an opportunity to make money while firing 12 ounces of Great Tasting Less Filling to the dome on a Super Bowl Sunday. Simple as that.
It's been an absolute pleasure to blog NFL picks this season. Much love and best of luck today.