The Primer: Super Bowl LIV Prop Bets & Game Pick
We’ve reached the end, my friends. What a season it’s been, too. When the playoffs started, I’m not sure there was anyone who thought the 49ers and Chiefs would be the last teams standing, but here we are.
Rather than doing the traditional version of The Primer where we talk about the fantasy impact of each player from every game, we’re going to attack this one a bit different. When most watch the Super Bowl, they may take part in prop bets, friendly bets with friends, and other odd-ball wagers. So, we’re going to focus on the prop bets that are available for the game.
For this article, I’ll be focusing on prop bets available through Westgate Las Vegas. To view prop bets at all of the US sportsbooks, check out our Game Props and Player Props pages over at our BettingPros site.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Line: KC by 1.5
Moneyline: Chiefs -115, 49ers -105
Chiefs notable injuries: DT Chris Jones (expected to play)
49ers notable injuries: RB Tevin Coleman (seems unlikely to play)
Total Passing Yards: 308.5
Total Completions: 25.5
Total Pass Attempts: 38.5
Total Rush Yards: 30.5
Total Touchdown Passes: 2.5
They are being extremely aggressive with Mahomes’ prop bets, and right fully so after the way he performed in his last two games against the Texans and Titans, though we can’t forget those defenses had allowed the fourth- and seventh-most passing yards per game to opponents. The 49ers allowed just 190.9 passing yards per game this year, the lowest in the NFL. There were just three quarterbacks who threw for more than 241 yards against them during the regular season. When you add in the fact that Mahomes has topped 300 yards just two of his last eight games, and his 308.5-yard prop seems far too aggressive. Sure, Aaron Rodgers threw for 326 yards in the conference championship, but that game was 27-0 at halftime, so garbage time was a necessity. If you’re picking the Chiefs to win, you should be on the under for Mahomes’ pass yardage. Touchdowns are fickle and the Chiefs do a lot of shuffle passes around the goal-line that can shift those numbers, though it’s important to note that there’s been just one quarterback all year (playoffs included) who threw more than two touchdowns against the 49ers. The completions are aggressive, and no matter which way you bet them, you want to correlate the bets. Mahomes has completed 25-plus passes in 11 different games over the last two years (just 32.4 percent of his games), and he hit 300-plus yards in nine of them. If you want to bet the over on completions, take the over on yards as well, though I’m taking the under on both. Knowing the 49ers’ opponents ran just 60.5 plays per game (6th-fewest) and averaged 32.4 attempts per game (6th-fewest), combined with the fact that the Chiefs ranked 25th in plays per game and 15th in pass attempts, I’m also inclined to take the under in attempts. It seems the books are trying to take advantage of the recent surge in Mahomes’ performance.
Total Passing Yards: 239.5
Total Completions: 19.5
Total Pass Attempts: 29.5
Total Rush Yards: 3.5
Total Touchdown Passes: 1.5
It’s no surprise to see the low totals for Garoppolo after he threw the ball just eight times in the conference championship against the Packers. Still, Garoppolo has hit the over on 19.5 completions in 8-of-18 games this year, which is a much higher percentage than Mahomes’ current prop on completions. Not just that, but there were just two quarterbacks all year (16-of-18) who didn’t complete at least 18 passes against the Chiefs. I’m digging the over on Garoppolo’s completions and pass attempts, as there was just one team who attempted fewer than 29 pass attempts against the Chiefs, and that was Ryan Tannehill back in Week 10. The yardage is a bit tougher to say with any degree of certainty, as the Chiefs allowed just 6.62 yards per attempt this year, the fourth-lowest mark in the league. The 49ers also don’t’ throw the ball deep, as evidenced by this stat: Garoppolo threw the ball over 20 yards just 6.5 percent of the time, the lowest mark in the league. This is one that could go either way. The rushing yard prop is one that will come down to pure randomness, but 3.5 yards is extremely easy to hit. Garoppolo did rank 2nd in the NFL for pass attempts inside the 10-yard-line, which is quite shocking on a run-first team, so if you want to pick a side, I’d lean the over on his 1.5 touchdowns.
Total Rushing Yards: 50.5
Total Rushing Attempts: 13.5
Will Williams Score a TD: Yes -130, No +110
Total Receiving Yards: 29.5
Total Receptions: 4.5
It seems Andy Reid has been waiting to unleash Williams as the feature back, as he’s played 117 snaps over the last two weeks, while no other running back played more than 93 snaps. LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson combined to play just 13 snaps and touch the ball just once. The 13.5 rushing attempts should be relatively easy to hit with those snaps, though many will point to the fact that he had just 12 carries in the divisional round. If the Chiefs fell behind by 21 points again, sure, I’d worry about his carries, but that’s extremely unlikely to happen. I’m taking the over on his carries and it’s one of my favorites. And if you’re taking the over there, you need a measly 3.61 yards per carry on 14 carries to hit the over on his 50.5 rushing yard prop. The 49ers allowed 4.21 yards per carry to running backs on the season. Knowing the Chiefs pass catchers are at full-strength, it’s tough to see Williams hitting his 4.5 reception prop, as he’s tallied more than four receptions just three times this year, and just one game with more than five receptions. He hasn’t topped seven targets in a game this year, which leaves very little wiggle room. Meanwhile, the 49ers allowed just three running backs to tally more than four receptions against them. In fact, they allowed just 103.0 PPR points through the air to running backs this year, which was the best in the NFL, while the Ravens were the closest, allowing 111.4 PPR points. If you wanted to bet the over on one of his receiving props, the 29.5 yards isn’t a bad line at all, though I feel better about the rushing props. The 49ers allowed just seven running back touchdowns during the entire regular season, so laying -130 doesn’t make much sense, though I’d say it’s slightly better than 50/50 that he does score.
Total Rushing Yards: 80.5
Total Rushing Attempts: 17.5
Will Mostert Score a TD: Yes -200, No +170
Total Receiving Yards: 20.5
Total Receptions: 2.5
There will be a lot of fans rooting for the over with Mostert’s rushing props, but I’m here to remind you about the volatility of 49ers running backs. Here’s a chart that I used prior to suggesting Mostert in DFS for the conference championship:
Mostert was the one getting the most consistent touches, but there are games throughout the season where you see a spike. We call those outliers. The conference championship was a game the 49ers were up 27-0 at halftime, so there was bound to be plenty of touches to go around. If Coleman is out (like we expect), it surely helps, but knowing there’s been just two games all year where Mostert has totaled more than 14 carries, I’m comfortable taking the under on his 17.5 attempt prop. The Chiefs struggle against the run, sure, but they faced an average of 22.3 carries per game, and that’s largely in part to do with the fact that you can’t sit on a lead against the Chiefs. And if they fall behind, like most teams do, there’s not going to be a barrage of rushing attempts. His 2.5 reception prop is a tough one, as he’s seen three targets just three times this year, and never more than four targets. If Coleman’s out, it makes it difficult to say “under” given the targets that’ll be available, but that’s one I’d avoid. If you wanted to take an over, the receiving yardage prop bet is the one I’d lean into. The Chiefs allowed a league-high 59.4 receiving yards per game to running backs, and that allowed 18 different running backs to amass 20-plus receiving yards against them. The touchdown prop bet for Mostert is massive at -200; I’d rather take a shot on George Kittle at +140.
Total Receiving Yards: 73.5
Total Receptions: 5.5
Will Hill Score a TD: Yes EVEN, No -120
Total Rushing Yards: 5.5
Like the Mahomes props, they’re being aggressive with Hill and his receiving props, as 73.5 yards is a number he hasn’t hit since way back in Week 10. He’s had one game during that time with more than five receptions, so they’re being aggressive there as well. Not by coincidence, Hill hasn’t been targeted more than eight times since back in Week 10. That’s an issue against a defense that allowed just a 60.1 percent catch-rate to wide receivers, the 13th lowest mark in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how Andy Reid utilized Hill, as he’s played in the slot nearly half the time this year, an area Richard Sherman (the 49ers best cornerback) doesn’t go. Will that number go up in the Super Bowl? Hill’s speed could give them an issue, as Sherman is slower than the average cornerback at this stage of his career, while Emmanuel Moseley is a 4.42-second guy, and K’Waun Williams (slot) ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. The 49ers do run a zone-heavy scheme (roughly 75 percent of the time) that keeps the play in front of them, and that’s backed-up by the minuscule five passing plays of 40-plus yards they allowed, which was the second lowest number in football. The 34 passing plays of 20-plus yards they allowed was the lowest in all of football. There were 10 receivers who tallied six-plus receptions against the 49ers this year (playoffs included), but it’s worth noting that nine of them saw nine-plus targets, again, a number Hill hasn’t seen since Week 10. In the end, the prop numbers are about right for Hill here, but if choosing the over on either of them, the yardage is the better bet. The touchdown prop feels wrong, as I’d argue there’s a better chance one of the tight ends score, but the 49ers did allow a wide receiver touchdown once every 18.4 targets, which was the 10th most often in the league. Touchdowns have so much variance, so I’d want better odds. I do love the over on his 5.5 rushing yards prop, as it’s reasonable to think Reid didn’t use him on handoffs as much during the regular season to keep him healthy. He’s going to get that yardage with one carry.
Total Receiving Yards: 47.5
Total Receptions: 3.5
Will Watkins Score a TD: Yes +300, No -400
Watkins has looked extremely healthy over the last two weeks, and it showed in particular against the Titans. Earlier in the year, he tallied just 5/39/0 on nine targets, but racked-up 7/114/1 on nine targets in the conference championship. Despite this year being described as a disappointment for Watkins, he’s topped his yardage prop number in 9-of-15 games he’s played (excluding the game he left in the first quarter). The 49ers allowed 14 different receivers tally 50-plus yards against them this year during the regular season, which amounts to just under one per game. There were four teams (Seahawks, Saints, Steelers, Bengals) who had multiple receivers hit that mark, so you don’t have to choose one or the other with Watkins/Hill. There were 20 receivers who totaled four-plus receptions against the 49ers, so you can say the odds for Watkins hitting his prop is better on that front, though there are concerns in Watkins’ logs. He hasn’t tallied more than three receptions in a game he’s seen fewer than eight targets in, which is a number that may be tough for him to hit. Because of that, I’d like the yardage prop over the receptions prop, though I’d say over on both if forced to pick. Watkins has scored in just two games this year (Week 1 and the Conference Championship), so betting on him scoring seems like a bad bet, but the 49ers did allow a receiver touchdown every 18.4 targets, which is the 10th most often in the league, and you’re getting him at +300. Playing alongside Mahomes in a full-time role where he goes in the slot 55 percent of the time has it’s benefits. There are better prop bets, but I’d lean the +300 and hope it hits. Many forget that Watkins was the No. 4 overall pick in 2014 and had been uber-efficient in the NFL prior to 2019.
Total Receiving Yards: 26.5
Total Receptions: 1.5
Will Hardman Score a TD: Yes +300, No -400
There may be a discrepancy in Hardman’s prop bets due to the way he was used for much of the season, but if the conference championship taught us anything, it’s that he may be playing ahead of Demarcus Robinson. After being out-snapped by Robinson in 15-of-16 game, Hardman out-snapped him 27-25 in their last game. More snaps generally lead to more opportunity, which is huge considering Hardman averaged 2.77 PPR points per target in 2019, which is the fourth-best mark over the last 10 years. When Mahomes targets him, he has a 153.9 QB Rating, the best of any duo in the NFL. Even while playing behind Robinson, Hardman hit his receiving yardage prop in 9-of-15 games he was targeted in. I’m taking the over on both his yards and receptions. Knowing he’s not a full-time player like Watkins, I’d fade the touchdown prop, as you get the same odds with Watkins.
Total Receiving Yards: 54.5
Total Receptions: 4.5
Will Samuel Score a TD: Yes +140, No -160
Total Rushing Yards: 17.5
I wish the yardage prop was overall yards, as Samuel’s topped 50 receiving yards just twice in the last eight games. The same can be said about his games with more than four receptions, making the props seem to lean in favor of the under. But if you go back and look at what we’re expecting out of Garoppolo, I don’t think either of these numbers are unreachable. The Chiefs have been very good against wide receivers, allowing just 17 of them to reach the 55 yards needed for his prop, though it’s extremely important to mention that four of them have come in their last two games. He does have what’s likely the toughest matchup at LWR where he lines up against Charvarius Ward, a cornerback who’s allowed just a 73.8 QB Rating in his coverage this year. That’s the side of the field Samuel goes to about half the time. Still, there have been nine plays of 20-plus yards that Ward has allowed in his coverage this year, while Samuel has had a 25-plus yard play in eight of his last 10 games. I don’t feel strongly about his prop bets, but I’d side with the over if forced to pick, particularly on the yardage. I’d also pick the over on his rushing prop, as he’s topped that number in five of his last seven games, and they’ll have a void with Tevin Coleman out of the lineup.
Total Receiving Yards: 41.5
Total Receptions: 2.5
Will Sanders Score a TD: Yes +240, No -300
When I talked about Garoppolo’s props above, Sanders was the prime beneficiary. He’s a full-time player that many have forgotten about due to the limited pass attempts in the offense. Still, Sanders has seen at least four targets in 9-of-12 games with the 49ers, including four games with six-plus targets. The over on his 2.5 reception props is one of my favorite in this game. Sanders is a veteran who knows the struggle it takes to get to this point, and he’ll be leaving it all on the field. While Tyrann Mathieu has done good covering the slot since late in the regular season, he’s almost certainly going to shift to George Kittle in this game, leaving Sanders with backup Rashad Fenton. If we’re taking the over on Garoppolo’s completions and/or pass attempts, Sanders is a no-brainer. I’d also say the over on his yardage, though I’m slightly more confident in the reception prop. I also don’t mind the +240 touchdown prop, especially when Bourne’s is +180, but I’m avoiding most touchdown prop bets.
Total Receiving Yards: 27.5
Total Receptions: 2.5
Will Bourne Score a TD: Yes +180, No -220
When you have a clear-cut No. 3 receiver on a team whose quarterback’s prop bet is 29.5 pass attempts, it’s going to be difficult to recommend any of his prop bets with any confidence. There have been just two games all season where Bourne has seen more than four targets, and both games were back when Emmanuel Sanders was dealing with his rib cartilage injury. Despite that, Bourne hasn’t topped 42 yards since back in Week 7, before Sanders was on the team. I can see the arguments to play the overs here, but I’d be putting my chips on the superior receiver, Sanders.
Total Receiving Yards: 75.5
Total Receptions: 6.5
Will Kelce Score a TD: Yes +120, No -140
I was somewhat surprised to see Kelce’s yardage prop so high considering all factors. It’s a number he’s hit in just 8-of-18 games this year, while the 49ers were the best in the league at defending the tight end position. Some will look at the fantasy points allowed and see they were the sixth best, but the more predictive stat is yards per target. They allowed a measly 5.52 yards per target this year, which was more than 10 percent less than the closest team (Vikings – 6.14). There was just one tight end who topped 64 yards against the 49ers this year, and that was Tyler Higbee when he hauled in 9-of-11 targets for 104 yards in their Week 16 game when the 49ers were missing a few starters, including safety Jaquiski Tartt. Not just the yardage, but there were just two tight ends who tallied more than four receptions against them this year. But now onto the good news… The 49ers played just three tight ends who finished as top-12 fantasy tight ends this year. Their totals were: Higbee 9/104/0, Jared Cook 2/64/2 (on just two targets, had to leave the game with injury), and Mark Andrews 3/50/1. Kelce is among the best to ever play the tight end position, so I don’t want to bet against him on the biggest stage, but I don’t feel great about betting the over, as this can go either way. I would feel better about Kelce’s +120 to score a touchdown than Tyreek Hill‘s EVEN touchdown prop, if you’re inclined to take one of them. The 49ers did allow a tight end touchdown every 16.7 targets, which was the 11th most often.
Total Receiving Yards: 73.5
Total Receptions: 5.5
Will Kittle Score a TD: Yes +140, No -160
The battle of the titans at tight end this week, though Kittle is the one who benefitted more from the week off, as he’s been playing through multiple injuries. Many will see the combined four catches for 35 scoreless yards and fade Kittle, but you shouldn’t be one of them. Garoppolo threw the ball 27 times in the two games combined, a number that he’ll top this week. The Chiefs allowed 98 receptions to tight ends this year, which was the second-most in the league, though the 6.72 yards per target was actually the third-lowest mark in the league. Does their defensive scheme funnel targets to the middle of the field? I’d argue it does considering the slot is where most receivers have success against them as well. Kittle should hit the over on his 5.5 receptions prop bet, just as Darren Waller (twice), Darren Fells, and Hunter Henry did against them this year. The yardage prop is a bit more difficult to fall in line with because even with all those receptions they allowed, Waller was the only tight end to top 69 yards against the Chiefs this year. Still, I’d side with the over if I were forced to bet that one, as this gamescript is going to be much different than the first two playoff games they played. If there were one pass-catcher on the 49ers I thought had a better than 50 percent chance to score, it’s Kittle, making his touchdown prop bet at +140 an attractive one.
This game should be one that’s closely contested, but in the end, the NFL has moved to favor the offensive side of the ball. Mahomes seems to have got his swagger back and that’s a dangerous thing, as he’s nearly unbeatable, even when you have a defense as good as the 49ers has been. Because of that, I’m picking the Chiefs to win this game, 27-23.