This is it.
Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs is here and there’s still time to get your bets down for the big game. This column has picked at 55% this season, so here’s hoping we finish strong.
Remember, this space isn’t the place for a million picks or five-leg parlays, either. These will always be the games I love the most.
Let’s go to work.
San Francisco Chiefs (-2, O/U 47.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I believe we will get a slow-starting Super Bowl.
This is the least efficient passing offense of the Patrick Mahomes era, and San Francisco’s defense should thrive early with the extra week to prepare. The recent narrative says the Niners can’t stop anybody, and that’s just lazy. If they play an “average” game on D, they’ll be fine.
San Francisco’s offense also tends to come out of the chute rather conservatively. They run the ball a ton and are no strangers to those six-to-seven-minute drives. The thing is, Kansas City’s defense is the Chiefs’ best side of the ball.
Don’t be surprised if we get a 3-0 or 7-0 first quarter.
Meanwhile, there’s a betting market surrounding the first touchdown. I’m not talking about the player, I’m talking about the type. Passing or rushing?
You’re being taxed on a passing score thanks to Mahomes and Brock Purdy. It’s as high as -155 in the market, and you can get Christian McCaffrey, Isiah Pacheco, Elijah Mitchell, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Kyle Juszczyk at +125.
Speaking of Juszczyk, let’s examine the way Kyle Shanahan has used his fullback against Kansas City. In three games, he has 11 targets for eight catches and 111 yards. Simply put, Shanahan has done a tremendous job using No. 44.
The Chiefs’ secondary is elite against opposing receivers and their defensive front is great at pressuring the pocket. This opens up those fullback flares in the flat and gives Purdy a last-minute option on broken plays, too.
If Juszczyk catches one ball, he should get “Over” 4.5 yards.
At the end of the day, this is a cheap moneyline price (-125) on what I believe is the best 53-man roster in the NFL. San Francisco got blasted by professional money last week at -1 and -1.5, but the staggering appetite from the betting public to back Mahomes and Kansas City is holding this line steady.
It’s no fun betting against Mahomes, but I’m doing it.
Niners 23, Chiefs 20.
PICK: Under 9.5 points scored in the first quarter
PICK: First TD scored will be a rushing touchdown
PICK: Juszczyk Over 4.5 receiving yards
PICK: Niners moneyline (-125)
2023 Record: (51-41, +5.9)
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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