2019 Season NFL Football Past Picks

February 02, 2020

This pick was released to clients on January 29, 2020 at 7:24PM ET.


San Francisco vs. Kansas City

Sunday 02/02 06:30 PM Eastern

1 unit on Game Total UNDER 55.5 -110 (risk 1 to return 1.91)  RESULT: WIN

Wow, this is a hard side to call guys. My computer matchup for this game predicts a pick 'em, with the Chiefs winning by less than a point.

Ok let's get this out of the way: I am passing on the game winner in this game. I know, I know. You are pissed! How can I not have a pick on the Super Bowl winner, especially given that I have successfully called the winner in 11 of the last 12 Super Bowls (lone loss was Seattle losing at the end to Malcom Butler and the Patriots). But here's the thing: Sometimes there is no value on a bet. The fact that this is the Super Bowl doesn't change that. I almost always find value on one side of this game. Give me two weeks to prepare, and my results are as good as Andy Reid's (more on that later). I have of course analyzed the shit out of this game, and I find it to be a toss-up. That's my informed opinion. Now given that, would you rather I force a pick on San Francisco or Kansas City, just so I have a pick? Some in this business would do that, to avoid criticism and sell more picks. But not me. When I see no value, it's my duty to tell you that. If you want to bet on the side in this game, flip a coin and go in with negative expected value (due to the vig). Me? I never place a bet on which I don't think I have positive EV.

With that out of the way, I do have a bet on the game outcome in this one, as well as my regular slew of partial-game bets and prop bets. So we have plenty to bet on and root for. This game annually provides the single best betting opportunity, especially on prop bets and we will look to take advantage of those again this year.

But before we get to those, let's talk about what will happen in this game.

When San Francisco has the ball

The Niners own the second best offense in the league this season, generating 30.2 points per game. They can run the ball and Jimmy Garoppolo has been more than solid. They will try to run the ball here to eat the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes' hands as he is the most dangerous player on the field. The Niners trailed only the Ravens this season in rushing attempts per game, at 32.6 per contest. Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown the ball 27+ times in ten games this season, and 100% of his interceptions have come in those games. I think Mike Shanahan is going to be very reticent to get into a game where he has Jimmy G throwing a lot. There's too much risk in it. Especially when you consider the success if this running game behind the three-headed monster of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman. The trio accounted for over 144 rushing yards per game (second in the league). More proof? The Niners finished fourth in the league in time of possession. Most people believe that the Niners have the better defense. While there's certainly a case for that, the Kansas City Chiefs have a very solid defense. During the regular season, they gave up 19.2 points per game, ranked 7th best in the league (one spot ahead of San Francisco). In their two playoff games, the Chiefs stumbled, allowing 31 to Houston and 24 to Tennessee. But even with those two games included, over their final seven games this season, Kansas City allowed just 15.3 points per game! That's elite, my friends. Their defensive pass completion percentage is 60.8%, ranked fourth best in the league. In contrast, San Francisco's is ranked 14th. And, KC's defense held opposing QBs' to a passer rating of 83.5, which was sixth best in the league, and ranked ahead of San Fran's. The Chiefs held Tom Brady to 16 points, Philip Rivers to 21, and Lamar Jackson to 28. They struggled vs. the DeShaun Watson (three times), Ryan Tannehill, and Aaron Rodgers. Sack-leader Chris Jones is listed as questionable but it will take an act of Congress to keep him off the field in this game. I think, given the motivations for San Francisco to keep things conservative, and the somewhat hidden strength of KC's defense and it's excellent coaching, the Niners aren't going to be scoring their normal 30 points here. Oh, and did I mention that teams that average 29+ points per game coming into the Super Bowl have scored on average just 18.5 points per game in the Super Bowl? :)

When Kansas City has the ball

The Chiefs' offense is considered by most to be explosive, and the best one in this game. But as I mentioned above, they are the second best offense in this game, averaging 29.8 per game. That's still elite, and not far off the 31.9 that Balimore averaged. But as stated above, great offenses tend to falter in the big game. Andy Reid has two weeks to prepare for Mahomes, who will be in the biggest game of his 24-year life. He's going against a top-5 defense here that may be even better than their season averages indicate. The Niners suffered some major injuries to key players this season that have undoubtedly affected their averages. Dee Ford was out the last six games of the regular season. Over that stretch, San Francisco gave up 25.8 points per game. In the games in which Ford played, that figured dropped to 14.7 per game. Nick Bosa missed a game against the Rams in which San Francisco gave up 31 points. Kwon Alexander missed the final nine games of the regular season. In those games, San Francisco allowed 25.9 per game (vs. 14.7 otherwise). Finally, Jaquiski Tartt was out the final four games of the regular season and over that stretch, they allowed 31.8 per game. With Tartt in the lineup, the Niners allowed 14.6 per game. So, with all of these players back and healthy, this may be a team that allows closer to 14-15 points per game vs. 19 per game overall, and 26 per game without one or more key starters. The Niners finished the season #2 in yards alowed and #1 against the pass, which will certainly come in handy vs. Patrick Mahomes. So, I also don't see the Chiefs offense getting their normal 30 points per game, either.

I don't see a real edge here for either team. The offenses are very similar in production, and the defenses are very close. How much better is San Francisco's defense will all the starters? It's not clear. If you believe they are MUCH stronger, then that could be a reason to back the Niners. Do you believe Patrick Mahomes is a generational player that will have a big game and can't be stopped? That could be a reason to take the Chiefs.

Another reason that is keeping me off the Niners? Andy Reid + two weeks. Give this guy two weeks, and he rips your heart out. In regular season games following a bye, he's 18-3. In the playoffs with an extra week of prep, he's 5-1. So my friends, that's a combined 23-4 record (85%). Could he lose here? Of course, but think hard about fading that record.

The Niners are 7-1 ATS this season vs. high-scoring teams (those averaging 24+ points per game). But, KC went 9-1 ATS this season in their last ten games vs. teams that complete 61%+ of their passes. And, Andy Reid is 26-16 ATS in Kansas City in expected close games (spread of -3 to +3). He's also 42-26 ATS after a spread win.

Guys, in the end, I feel like this game is a toss-up and not worth betting on the spread or moneyline.

In terms of the full-game result, I am recommending a bet on the UNDER. As mentioned above, great offenses in the Super Bowl tend to dramatically underperform. Teams averaging 29+ points per game fall on average more than 10 points below that in the big game. Last year the Rams came in with the second-best offense in the league, averaging 32.3 per game. They scored 13 points. New England wasn't far behind them, ranked 4th in the league in scoring. They managed all of 13 points. And who could forget the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers in 2016, scoring over 31 points per game, managing just 10 vs. the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Or, the high-flying Peyton Manning-led Broncos in 2014. Again, the number one offense in the league was stymied by the Seahawks, scoring just 8 points. The 18-0 New England Patriots with Tom Brady scored 35.7 points per game, only to manage 14 in a loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. There have been some great offenses that score well in the Super Bowl, but it's the exception to the rule. If history holds true here, each of these teams will score somewhere closer to 20 points each.

We also get tremendous line value. The oddsmakers opened this total, with all their wisdom, at 51. The betting public has bet this up to 54 to 55. Why? Do they know something the linesmakers don't? No, of course not. The public loves offense. Who wants to root for defense? They WANT to bet for scoring. They see two of the top three offenses in the league here. They see a dynamic generational player in Patrick Mahomes. To them, the final score is gonna be 31-30 or something like that. So all the bets come in on the OVER. The huge line movement here of 3+ points gives us extra value on the UNDER.

Other things to consider?

Games with referee Bill Vinovich have gone UNDER at a historic 58% clip. And, outodor playoff games go UNDER 56% of the time.

On the road, San Francisco's offense is 6 points per game worse than it is at home. On grass, it's 4 points worse than on turf. Kansas City's defense was better this season on the road (17.9 per game allowed vs. 22.1 at home). In expected close games (line of -3 to +3), the Reid-led Chiefs are 27-16 to the UNDER. In games in which Reid's Chiefs team is favored, the UNDER is 51-38.

When one more team comes in with a great passing offense, Andy Reid's Chiefs lean strong to the UNDER. When his KC teams have averaged 61%+ completions, Reid has gone 43-29 to the UNDER. When his opponent averages 61%+ completions, he has gone 43-31 to the UNDER. Both situations apply here.

And here's the kicker. Going back to the extra week of rest situation, how does that affect the game total results? With 2+ weeks to prepare, Reid is 20-5 to the UNDER in his coaching career!

Guys, back the UNDER in this game.

49ers 3 7 10 0 20
Chiefs 7 3 0 21 31


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