Well, that was some Championship Sunday. It appeared we were headed for two blowouts, then perhaps two underdog victories, but in the end, it was two quarterbacks that may go down as the greatest to ever do it who came out on top and booked trips to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing at home in Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl — something the bookmakers have never had to account for — but that didn’t stop the Super Bowl odds released Sunday night from favoring the visiting Kansas City Chiefs by three points across the board. Very similar to the Championship Game for both teams, the Chiefs’ moneyline sits at -165 at the opening, with the Bucs coming in as +143 underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook. The over/under, meanwhile, was at a very-high 57 points at open, and has already been bet down to 56.
There are a few things that may affect the line, and the outcome of this game — namely injuries. We already know that one of the Chiefs’ best players on offense, tackle Eric Fisher, will miss the Super Bowl with an Achilles injury he suffered on Sunday. On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers did just get Vita Vea back, but they did not have sensational rookie Antoine Winfield, Jr. against the Packers and saw Jordan Whitehead leave Sunday with a shoulder injury.
The Bucs are going to need all the help they can get in the secondary going against two speedsters in Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill, and missing two safeties would be a huge issue. On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes may not be afforded the time needed to let them get open with Fisher out. Tampa Bay touts perhaps the best pass rush in football and Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett will have their pupils fully dilated against a reserve lineman in Martinas Rankin.
Matchup-wise, the Chiefs won’t really be fazed going against the top rushing defense in football, because they only run 38.18% of the time, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. The matchup they’ll pay attention to is in the aforementioned secondary, where the Buccaneers are allowing 249.4 yards per game, good for a spot in the bottom 11 in the league. We already know the prowess the Chiefs have when throwing the football, so a good matchup coupled with some injuries to the Tampa Bay defense could spell trouble.
For the Buccaneers, who rank second in scoring offense, it will be two-pronged attack against a pretty average defense against both the pass and the run. Tom Brady has showcased his ability to find each and every one of his receivers for big catches this postseason, and Leonard Fournette has been a revelation on the ground, seizing control of the backfield and playing some of the best football of his career.
The line of three points makes sense here, as does the high total. Both offenses should be set up for success, and while the Chiefs overall probably have the better offense, the Buccaneers will be afforded the easier matchup. That said, coming off of its performance last week, the Chiefs defense is not to be doubted. I would still make this line closer to five, thinking that even though Fisher will be out Mahomes is still one of the best quarterbacks against the blitz, and Tampa Bay being banged up in the secondary could really hamper them. Mahomes’ ability to avoid the blitz stems from his ability to move out of the pocket, and any concerns over his left big toe will surely be squashed given two weeks to heal.
The total is very high for a Super Bowl, and I’d be inclined to take a look at the under here before it continues moving down. Not only do you have a fantastic defense on one side of the ball, but the Chiefs also have a deceptively slow offense. They rank 13th in total pace, and that slows to 22nd in the second half of games, making them great candidates to hit the under almost every time out. They rank in the bottom 10 in the league in pace when trailing, too, meaning even in a scenario where they need a late comeback they’re not likely to push the total higher. In all likelihood, Kansas City will sit on a fourth-quarter lead and run the entire quarter, winding clock and working hard for under bettors.
It should be an absolute cracker of a game in Tampa Bay, and the fact that it’s so difficult to deliberate over odds makes it a challenging one to bet as well. Early on, I’m still siding with Kansas City, and that position could be further solidified as injury news trickles out for Tampa Bay.