2020 Season NFL Football Past Picks

February 07, 2021

07

Kansas City at Tampa Bay

Sunday 02/07 06:30 PM Eastern

2 units on Tampa Bay +3.5 (-105) (risk 2 to return 3.9)  RESULT: WIN

Well, Tom Terrific is back in the Super Bowl for a record 10th time, double his nearest rival. His fans are ecstatic while his haters are beside themselves, yet again. He's won six of his first nine, garnering the MVP four times. This will be only the second time he's an underdog. The first? His first appearance vs. the Rams in which Brady led his team to a huge upset win. How can you bet against this guy?

The answer? Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. It's incredibly difficult to go against these two as well. While it's still way too early to know, Mahomes may be better than Brady when all is said and done. In just three years, he has led the Chiefs to a 44-11 record and back-to-back Super Bowls. He has won an MVP, and has a 114-24 career TD to INT ratio. And he's barely 25 years old. Andy Reid owns a .629 career winning mark with his teams finishing in the top two spots in his division 17 times in 21 seasons! This will be his third Super Bowl. Oh, and his teams are 24-5 following a bye week.

These things are never easy on the surface. This is why we must dig a lot deeper, which I have done :)

Like Andy Reid, give me two weeks to prepare, and look out! I put my 12-1 record on my Super Bowl game picks on the line here again this season, as I have a strong opinion on what will transpire on Sunday.

Let's dive in to the details...

When Kansas City has the ball

The Chiefs own the fifth best offense in the league, averaging 29.6 points per game, down ever-so-slightly from 30.2 last season. Their running game is mediocre but this offense is about Mahomes who has thrown for 4,740 yards with 38 touchdowns and six interceptions. Of course he's always a threat with his legs as well. One concern is that the offense has been regressing somewhat. In their first ten games, KC averaged 32.1 points per game but over their last eight, that has dropped to 26.5 - a significant 17% decline. Tampa Bay's defense is solid but not great. They allowed 22.3 points per game, but it has been improving. Over the first 12 games of this season, they allowed 23.3 per game, but they've cut that back to 20.6 per game over their last seven. Only two opponents were able to score more than 27 points against this defense (The Chargers and the Saints twice). And just once have the Bucs given up 28+ in the last 15 games. When these two teams met earlier this year, Kansas City scored 27 points. I realize that it's hard to imagine holding down Pat Mahomes and this offense. But, consider that high-powered offenses typically underperform in the big game. Teams averaging 29+ points per game coming into the Super Bowl have averaged 19.7 per game in this game. Now, I think on average these teams faced better defenses than Tampa Bay's, but you get my point. My best guess is that the Chiefs put up around 25-28 points in this game.

When Tampa Bay has the ball

The best offense in this game belongs to the Bucs who average 30.7 per game, only behind Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Tom Brady has put up over 4,600 yards with 40 touchdowns with just 12 picks. Is there a quarterback you'd rather have your money on in big games? He's not always an automatic back. I was against him hard in both of his Super Bowl losses vs. the Giants, backing the New York Giants on the moneyline for huge upsets both times. I have also backed Brady in his wins over the Rams in his first season at the helm when he got the upset win as a two-touchdown underdog and versus the Falcons and the Rams in recent years. Can Kansas City slow him and this Patriots offense down? Tampa doesn't have much of a running game, ranked 27th in the league in yards per game, although that has gotten a lot better of late as the Bucs put up 142 vs. the Skins and 127 vs. the Saints in the playoffs. But much like Kansas City, Tampa's offense runs through the quarterback. Kansas City has allowed 22.4 points per game this season, but the defense, much like their offense, seems to be regressing slightly. Through the first ten games, Kansas City allowed 21.4 points per game but over the last eight, that has climbed to 23.6. The Bucs' offense has been improving too. Through the first twelve games this season, they averaged 28.7 per game. But over the past seven games as Bruce Arians and Brady have become more comfortable with each other, Tampa has put up an average of 34.3 points per game. Given that, I see no reason why Tom Brady and this offense can't score 30 or more points in this game, although something in the mid-to-high 20s is also possible. 

So what's going to happen here?

Either team could win this game, but this looks to me to be much closer to a pick'em type game, especially considering this is a home game for Tampa Bay - the first time this has ever happend in a Super Bowl. Of course, that advantage will be mitigated somewhat by the limited fans allowed (about 1/3 capacity), but there are other significant advantages to the Bucs playing this game at Raymond James. First off, the players and coaches know the stadium and the locker room, and the lights, and the sounds - everything will be very familiar to them. In addition, they don't have to travel! They get to practice in their normal facility and they get to sleep at home, with their families in their normal beds. This is not a trivial advantage, especially for such a big game with so much hype.

I also think the Chiefs are overrated. They are just the fifth team ever (out of 110) to advance to the Super Bowl with a losing record against-the-spread (8-10 ATS). Also, their pythagorean wins (how many games they should have won, based on their points scored and allowed throughout the season) is just 11.9 (vs. 15 actual wins). What accounts for that difference? Unusual luck in close games. Tampa's pythagorean wins by the way is 12.9. So, based on points scored and allowed thus far this season, Tampa is the better team, getting points.

I am reluctant to bet against Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, but there are times where this is called for and this is one of them. If we look at season-long averages, they are facing a better offense with an equal defense. If we look at recent play, Tampa Bay has the better offense and the better defense. And we are getting the GOAT at quarterback, as an underdog.

Further points to note:

Tampa Bay is 9-2 ATS this season when facing good passing teams like KC (those averaging 7+ yards per attempt). The Bucs are also 8-1 ATS vs. defenses like KC's that allow 5.7+ yards per play. Meanwhile, if we flip that, Tampa is 9-2 ATS this season vs. offenses like KC's that average 5.7+ yards per play including a perfect 6-0 ATS vs. the elite offense that average 6.0+ per play. Finally, as a home underdog, Bruce Arians-coached teams are 15-5 ATS.

Underdogs in the Super Bowl are 20-5-1 ATS if they score 20+ points. Think KC can hold the Bucs under 20? Me neither.

Guys, I think the Bucs should be a pick'em or maybe even a small favorite in this game. Take the points, finding +3.5 if you can as a Max Play. You can also take them on the moneyline as I think Tom Brady likely hoists Super Bowl trophy #7 on Sunday.


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