Super Bowl LV is one of the most anticipated matchups in Super Bowl history. The best QB of the last 20 years against the kid well on his way to being the best of his generation.
The line is a juiced -3 or -3.5 in favor of KC as of this writing. I do not expect that line to move much as we get closer to the kickoff. In the 10 Super Bowls with a line of -3 or -3.5, the favorite has gone 7-3 SU and ATS. The line has yet to be a factor. Most of these games were not close. Although the last time we had a line like this, Tom Brady was pulling off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to beat the Falcons in OT and cover the spread.
The total is 56.5, making it the second-highest total in Super Bowl history. The Patriots vs. Falcons 2017 Super Bowl mentioned above had a 57 point total. The 34-28 final saw that game go over. 12 Super Bowls have had 50+ totals, with the game going under in 8 of them.
The playoffs have been tough to handicap, with sharp lines each week. With just one loss, we have had a successful postseason run. We also have our futures bet alive on the Bucs at +1000. I will treat this game analysis as if we do not have a live futures bet. For those who did tail that bet, I have no problem just letting it ride on this one.
Let’s go over the essential stats that help predict Super Bowl winners.
Passing TD Percentage
Teams that use the pass to score a high percentage of their points tend to outperform in the Super Bowl. There is not much of an edge in this category. Tampa finished their season with 71.2% of their TD’s through the air. Kansas City was slightly better at 71.4%.
Rushing Attempts Per Game
The number of Rushing Attempts per game is often indicative of a great team when you combine it with a high passing TD%. It shows a team that can pass to take the lead and run the ball to hold on to it. The edge goes to KC with a 25.19 vs. 23.06 for the Bucs.
Yards Per Pass
Passing is so important to winning in the NFL and has been forever. The old adage that great teams run the ball to win isn’t true. The edge in Yards per pass goes to KC 7.8 to 7.4.
Defensive Yards Per Pass
If it is important to be efficient in the passing game, then it is equally important to limit the opponent in the same category. The edge here goes to TB 6.4 to the Chiefs 6.6.
Turnover differential per game
Turnovers can be attributed to luck many times. When you have a great QB who makes the right decisions, it reduces luck. The Bucs have an edge here with a 0.6 TO differential compared to 0.4 from KC.
Sacks per game
The game is often won or lost with pass protection or lack thereof. We want a team that can put pressure on the QB. Tampa has the edge with 2.9 sacks per game to the Chiefs 2.1. It will be crucial for Tampa to keep Brady upright. They are the 3rd best in the league at sack%. It can be the key to this game.
It seems obvious, but teams with a high scoring margin tend to be the better team. Tampa Bay is second in the NFL with 8.4, and the Chiefs are fifth at 7.2.
Position by Position
Edge to the Chiefs.
Mahomes is the best player in the league right now. His 109.3 passer rating beats Brady’s 100.4. It is rare that Brady is in a game where he is not the best QB. He probably wasn’t in the NFC Championship game, but he was able to win that one.
Edge to the Bucs.
Neither of these teams will try and run the ball much. Ronald Jones Jr is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. They also have Fournette, who only averages 4.0 yards per attempt. Clyde Edwards-Helaire averages just 4.3 YPA. If he becomes a factor, it will have to be through the air. Tampa will not give up much on the ground.
Edge to the Bucs
The Bucs have one of the most dynamic WR cores in the NFL. Mike Evans led the team with 70 catches and 1006 yards. He also scored 13 times. Godwin was good for 65/840/7, and Antonio Brown chipped in with 45/484/4. They each missed some time this year, but it looks like they will all be available for the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs may have the best of all the Wr’s in this game, but Tyreek Hill is the only quality WR on this team.
Edge to Chiefs
Travis Kelce may be the best tight end in football, so he wins this matchup. The Bucs will use a combo of Cameron Brate and Rob Gronkowski. Brady loves to use his tight end in the red zone, so do not be shocked to see one of them score. Kelce, however, can be a key to KC keeping drives alive.
Edge to Bucs
The Bruce Arians offense makes it difficult to protect the QB because he likes the deep ball. The Bucs finished the regular season giving up 24% pressures, which is good for 4th in the NFL.
The Chiefs have a pretty good offensive line that often looks worse because of the Mahomes style of play. Mahomes will wait a long time to try and make something happen. That has led to 53 pressures caused by Mahomes this year. Obviously, the trade-off is the big plays Mahomes can generate, so nobody in KC will complain.
Edge to Bucs
Tampa likes to blitz. They blitzed 42.3% of the time this season, which finished 3rd in that category. For KC, they have one pass-rushing threat, Chris Jones. Jones had a 93.1 pass rush rating, which was second to only Aaron Donald.
Edge to Bucs
It is not close with this one. Tampa is the best run-stopping defense by far. Tampa holds teams to 35.5 yards less than their opponent’s average. Best in the NFL. KC finished middle of the pack in that category, giving up 3.5 more yards than their opponents averaged.
Edge to Bucs
Carlton Davis led the league in passes defended with 21. Jamaal Dean had just 9th but rated 3rd in corner coverage grade for PFF. Kansas City is not far behind, ranking 10th overall on PFF in cornerback play. These teams are close in interceptions per game with TB 1.1 and KC 1.0. Tampa Bay has been great in the playoffs at getting picks averaging 1.7 per game.
On paper, this game appears to be close. In a game this close, it is hard not to take 3.5 points. If Tampa can get a little something going in the run game, look for Brady to take big shots down the field. Tampa led the league in passing plays over 25 yards with 44. Kansas city was 23rd in the NFL in explosive plays given up passing with nearly 10% of all passing plays against them going for more than 20 yards.