Kansas City Chiefs +2 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas KO: 2315 GMT
The final game of the 2023/24 NFL season provides us with a rematch of the 2019/20 Super Bowl just 4 years ago where the Chiefs came out 31-20 winners thanks for a 4th quarter comeback, will history repeat itself of will Kyle Shanahan mastermind a win to gain vengeance for the 49ers?
The betting line on the game hasn't changed a whole lot through the week, so while it seems like most experts are on the Chiefs there hasn't been enough money to move the line through the key number of 3, or bring it down towards a pick'em. As for the total, that's remained fairly constant as well, sitting at 47.5 on the day of the game itself.
There are a TON of Game and player props on the match itself as well as the usual novelty bets on things like the Usher Half-time show and National Anthem, I'll try and skim through as much as possible here, but you can find more in-depth/alternate coverage at Super Bowl Preview and Player/Game props.
A flying look at the Novelty prop markets and I'll start with the National Anthem, Reba Mcintyre is singing this year, she's never gone over 1min 30 in previous incarnations and that's where they're lined it this year, 89.5, or under 1min 30 seconds depending where you look. It seems like she'll be around 88/89 so a lean to the under on that one.
Usher is the man with the half-time show and amazingly on the morning of the show there doesn't seem to have been any leaks. “My Way” or “Caught Up” seem the most likely choices to start the show, you can get 19/20 for Caught Up at Unibet, 7/4 on My Way at SkyBet (it's 3/4 favourite at Unibet) – The final song seems like it's definitely going to be “Yeah!” (1/5) with L'il Jon at 1/8 to make an appearance and Ludacris 1/3 to take the stage.
The 49ers are calling the Coin Toss but we've missed our chance on making money there, they WILL call Tails but you can't bet what they'll call, just the result which of course is non-predictable so I won't be doing that. I think whomever wins the toss will defer so there's no information to be gleaned from that either. Either way I think the kicking team forces a touchback for the receiving, that's 3/10 or so, so not worth a bet for me.
It looks like this weekend we'll get an answer to the question of how important the QB is. Patrick Mahomes is the best QB in the league and possibly of all time, personally I think he is, but his supporting cast isn't the best in the league, while Brock Purdy was the final person picked in the draft a couple of years ago, has put in some admirable performances but has a fantastic supporting cast and head coach enabling him to do what he does. Will the better roster or better key man be the answer here?
The Chiefs quite obviously have got the nod at QB, Mahomes is fantastic and despite some frustrations during the season due to his pass-catchers not doing the one job that they're meant to excel at, he has got his Chiefs team all the way to the finalé of the season and a chance to pick up his 3rd Super Bowl ring. Now that the Chiefs have a solid defense he hasn't had to do it all himself so a maximum of 262 passing yards in the playoffs and just 4 passing TDs across their 3 post-season games aren't too shocking even if they're not what we're used to from him.
Brock Purdy has already exceeded all expectations on his performances in the league with the 49ers. He needed to provide two game-winning drives in a row to get his team here as they won from deficits against the Packers and the Lions, fair play to the kid, but I'm still hesitant on his ability. There should have been multiple interceptions against the Packers and while the Lions did come away with one, the turning point in that game was Purdy throwing to a Lions defender who let it bounce off his facemask into the arms of Aiyuk for a 50-yard gain. Things could have been so different. I think they'll try and minimise his work as much as possible against a very good Chiefs secondary, but Purdy is an aggressive passer and might not be able to help himself. I do like Over 12.5 rush yards for him, he's been scrambling well recently and I think we'll avoid costly kneel-downs for him at the end of the game.
This one is pretty cut and dry as well, Christian McCaffrey is the best running back in the league and will be looking to add to his 25 total TDs so far this season, at 2/5 I think it's safe to say he probably will. He led the league in rushing yards and added another 600+ through the air as well as a true multi-positional player. I think he'll hit 20+ touches tonight as the 49ers should be looking to the ground game to take advantage of a Chiefs D which is one of the worst in the league against the zone/outside scheme that they run. Look for him to run mainly behind LT Trent Wililams (who some consider the best player in the game regardless of position). His line is 90.5, he'll probably go over but I don't like taking things that high. Elijah Mitchell is a good backup and his line of 4.5 rush yards on Bet365 is one I'll be taking, I think they'll go run-heavy and that should give the 2nd choice some touches as well as CMC. I do like o1.5 rushing TDs for the 49ers available in multiple places at plus money, was 33/20 earlier in the week at Bet365.
On the Chiefs side of things is another 7th round pick, Isiah Pacheco who runs like he's been infected with the rage virus. Ask for 2 yards and he'll throw his body into that like there's no tomorrow. He's scored in 4 consecutive games for them now and averaged about 80 yards per game in the post-season. The 49ers do have one of the better line backer duos in the league and some good run-stuffers in the middle. His line is 66.5, he'll be around there from 15-16 carries. I think the Chiefs should be attacking more through the air, so o2.5 receptions could be a good look for him, although they did activate Jerrick McKinnon from IR last night, he's a game-time decision so keep an eye on him as he's the usual 3rd down back for them and could take passing work away from Pacheco.
I usually hit up WRs next, but the Tight end match-up is more interesting and I think it depends on what you're looking for with your man.
Travis Kelce is the best pass-catching TE of his generation and despite what seemed like a down season (possibly distracted with his love life) he has popped up in the playoffs where things count and helped get his team to this point. He's averaged around 85 yards per game and nothced up 3 TDs in them including 2 in the first half of last weeks win over the Ravens. He will run a yard past the line of scrimmage, stop and turn around all night and despite everyone knowing where Mahomes first look will be on most plays, he always seems to find a gap in the coverage. The 49ers were gashed by Sam LaPorta last week so it could be a good game for Kelce.
George Kittle is probably the best all-round TE in the game though, his pass blocking, and attitude towards that aspect, is second to none and a big reason why the 49ers run game is so effective, but he is an adept pass-catcher as well, leading all tight ends in receiving yards in the regular and adding 6 TDs in that. His post-season hasn't pulled up any trees numbers-wise, 108 and a TD but he gets a good matchup tonight and with the Chiefs secondary performing well he could be the favoured target in short-mid range passes across the middle of the field. I like o3.5 receptions for him. Kittle o3.5 receptions – 5/8 (Bet365)
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk give the 49ers the edge in this area of the game. They are YAC (yards after catch) monsters and can take the shortest passes to the house. Aiyuk is the usual downfield threat, averaging more yards per catch than all bar one player in the league this year (George Pickens, thanks to Rudolph) but he'll be more in the range of Sneed who has been a shut-down corner this season, I doubt they look his way too much when he's on Sneed's side of the field. Deebo will get some action on jet sweeps and the likes with carries in the backfield, but he'll also be able to find his way into space in the mid-range passing game, if he gets the ball in his hands he's very tough to bring down, both are around 60 yards, I'd lean under on Aiyuk, but it might only take 2 to get him over his 62.5, and a slight lean over on Deebo although that's a good line. Behind those are Jauan Jennings who gets a tough matchup, and not a whole lot more in all honesty. Kyle Juszczyk could nab a catch or two from fullback but Chris Conley and Ray Ray McCloud are likely non-factors.
The Chiefs only really have Kelce and Rashee Rice, the rookie who came on massively in the second half of the season once they realised the rest of their pass-catchers were letting them down every week. Rice has 20 catches in their 2 post-season games and is lined at 6.5 receptions once more. He plays mostly on the left side of the formation and will likely get near to double-digit targets in this one if the Chiefs target the passing game as they should. Behind him you've got Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the deeper threat, he's dropped a lot this year but has been hit more in the playoffs and sealed the game with a deep catch last weekend, I like his longest reception o14.5 as if he catches one it will probably be there. Mecole Hardman came back and hasn't done a lot, Skyy Moore was activated from IR this week, may play, may not, he scored in the Super Bowl last year, Richie James could get a touch or two but it's mainly Rice and not much else.
A tough choice here but the Chiefs have to be credited with the better defense on results this year. They've not given up more than 27 points in any of their 20 games and they have been the reason the Chiefs made it this far at all,. Chris Jones is one of the best in the league up front, he will get double-teamed but he'll still generate pressure and is a good run-blocker as well. He frees up Goerge Karlaftis who had 10.5 sacks in the regular season and has 2.5 in the playoffs. They can take advantage of coverage sacks as La'Jarius Sneed has been the best corner in the league, allowing just 1 TD in coverage all season and Trent McDuffie has proven he's one of the better as well. Willie Gay looks like he's fine to go in this one which helps their LB grouping.
On paper the 49ers have probably the best defense in the league but it's not shown up that way this year. Nick Bosa is a fantastic pass-rusher with Armstead and Chase Young they should cause problems and Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are one of the best LB duos in the league as well, but the secondary hasn't been great this year with former-Chiefs Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir the main guys at corner for them as injuries hit other players. They were run all over by the Lions in the first half last week and Aaron Jones topped 100 against them as well, it won't be easy for them to slow the Chiefs. Ward u4.5 tackles/assists looks a good bet, he's not hit that recently and the Chiefs will use Kelce over the middle or Rice who plays on the opposite side of the field to him.
That's right we're down to kickers. It's the Chiefs. Tommy Townsend and Harrison Butker are the better duo. Jake Moody has not had a great season as the place kicker for the 49ers, he'll have to put his troubles behind him in the biggest spot. Over 1.5 Chiefs field goals, 20/23 – The Chiefs have struggled to finish drives this year.
So, what's going to happen?
I have to take the Chiefs. I said all season long that I think Purdy is fine but won't be able to get there in the biggest games so I think I've got to stick to that and assume the Andy Reid will have something cooked up to stop him and Christian McCaffrey. Chiefs Moneyline – Let's go 27-21 as the final score.
As for the total, I want to lean under, but both of these teams are capable or racking up points so I won't be betting either side of that line. I do like the o8.5 first quarter points available at PaddyPower/BetFair – the last 4 Super Bowls have all seen at least 10 points in the 1st quarter including the first game between these two 4 years ago.
You can get 3/1 for Kelce and McCaffrey to score at BoyleSport, it's £10 maximum but is far better than the 6/4 available everywhere else. they are correctly the most likely to find the endzone.
If you're looking for a long-shot you can get 16/1 on Hardman at PP, and 11/1 on Kyle Juszczyk depending where you look.
Good Luck, and thanks for reading through the season. It should be a great game!