SUPER BOWL LIV IS FINALLY HERE!! Wait, it’s Super Bowl weekend, right? Normally it’s complete football saturation in the weeks leading up to The Big Game™ but football has felt like an afterthought these last few weeks with everything else in the news.
NFL 54th Super Bowl LiVE…
I was super excited for Super Bowl LIV a couple weeks ago. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs were two of the best teams in football all season, and it should be a great game with a slew of stars, two brilliant coaches, and the most exciting player in football.
And yet… as I tried to write a Super Bowl preview, I found myself struggling to even get back into the football spirit. So rather than an Xs and Os preview, I decided to keep it simple.
Here are 54 reasons to get excited about Super Bowl 54 and why I think this game should live up to the hype, and then some…
Chiefs vs. 49ers Full Game & Pepsi Halftime Show LiVE……
WHY SUPER BOWL LIV WILL BE AWESOME
I. It’s the Super Bowl.
I mean, come on.
There’s no bigger game in sports.
II. We deserve some fun after a brutal January.
Impeachment trials. Corona virus. Kobe.
2020 sucks so far, and we all need an entertaining Super Bowl night.
III. It definitely won’t be last year.
Remember last year’s Super Bowl? I don’t.
That snoozefest finished 13–3, and it was 3–3 with only 17 minutes left. And I’m all for a good defensive battle, but this wasn’t even that.
Last year’s Super Bowl stunk. This year’s can’t help but be better.
IV. The best player in the NFL is playing in a Super Bowl.
Patrick Mahomes is top 5 at worst and he’s the reigning MVP for one more day. The point is that one of the best, brightest young talents the league has ever seen is playing in a Super Bowl, and we dare not take that for granted.
Brett Favre played in back-to-back Super Bowls, then never got back. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees only ever got one dance. Dan Marino made the Super Bowl in his second season, then never made it back.
Patrick Mahomes is the best and most exciting player in football and he’s playing in the sport’s biggest game. Let’s not take it for granted.
V. Patrick Mahomes might do something we’ve never seen before.
It’s practically more prophecy than prediction at this point. Mahomes is the Steph Curry of the NFL. He is a joy to watch and he changes the entire game.
Watch how Mahomes warps the geometry of a football field. Look at him scamper down the sidelines and through the defense. See how he holds the ball a split second longer than any other QB on roll-outs and throws it back across the field to a teammate that’s now open after the defense thought the play was over. Watch the arm angle, the shovel pass, the lefty throws.
What’s next for Mahomes? You could make up almost anything and I’d believe it. Pump fake a defender 10 yards down the field? I’d buy it. Throw a TD to himself? Sure. Designed behind-the-back pass across the field? Why not!?
Every time we watch Patrick Mahomes, we might see something we’ve never seen on a football field before. And that makes every moment must-watch.
VI. The incredible coaching matchup.
The best part about this game is that one of Andy Reid or Kyle Shanahan will soon be a Super Bowl winning coach.
The worst part is that one of them will lose it.
Reid is one of the all-time great coaches, win or lose. His record is impeccable, even if he seems to come up short in the brightest moments. Shanahan is a rising star, this year’s Sean McVay (who was last year’s Kyle Shanahan).
These are two of the top-five coaching staffs in the league, and any team outside of New England would be lucky to have them. I could nerd out an entire column on these coaches. Just know it’s going to be a show.
VII. Speed, speed, and more speed.
If you enjoy watching track stars with dazzling speed, this is the game for you. Both offenses are built around guys that can change the game in one play.
Raheem Mostert is the big name for San Francisco. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman headline for Kansas City. But there’s an entire track team here with names like Tevin Coleman, Sammy Watkins, Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders, and others offering plenty of speed of their own.
This game will be FAST.
VIII. A true, genuine toss-up.
The Chiefs are 1-point favorites, making this essentially a coin flip. This is only the third time a Super Bowl features teams rated so close.
The previous two were Super Bowl XVI featuring San Francisco and Cincinnati and Super Bowl XLIX with New England and Seattle. Both came down to late drives by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the game’s final minutes. Let’s hope this one lives up to the hype, too.
IX. Finally, some good football.
If it feels like it’s been weeks, it’s because it has. The Pro Bowl obviously doesn’t count. Neither conference championship game was particularly close. The last competitive football game was LSU-Clemson, and that was only for a half.
X. The play Kansas City doesn’t call.
BRING ME REAL FOOTBALL.
Opposing coaches have often talked about how hard it is to gameplan for Kansas City because you have to prepare the defense for two plays on every down — the one Andy Reid calls and a second one, the one Patrick Mahomes makes up on the spot.
Remember when you knelt in a huddle with your buddies and drew up a play in the dirt? Mahomes does that every play, usually on the fly. His receivers run second and third routes because they know he will find them.
Think about it — all the preparation in the world can’t prepare you for a play you’ve never seen before because it’s literally being made up as you watch.
The play Kansas City doesn’t call is the most dangerous play in the book.
XI. We’ll finally find out what Jimmy Garoppolo is.
For a long time, Jimmy G was just Tom Brady’s handsome backup. Then he was his short-term replacement, and then Bill Belichick was gushing over him on his way out the door via trade.
The 49ers didn’t exactly win in spite of Garoppolo this season, but if you listed the reasons they were successful, was he even among the top five? Garoppolo has been mostly a bystander in San Francisco’s playoff run so far. Is that because he’s not ready or because he simply hasn’t been needed?
The 49ers aren’t going to blow the Chiefs out, and that means Jimmy G is going to have to make a big play or three at some point. And finally, finally we’ll find out what this kid is made of.
XII. The most beautiful screens in football.
Nobody designs a better screen pass than Andy Reid. Just watch and enjoy.
XIII. The world’s last fullback.
Kyle Juszczyk is not actually the world’s last fullback, but it sure feels like it. Everyone scoffed when the 49ers gave Juszczyk a big contract, but now he’s the guy unlocking the entire offense.
Juszczyk does it all. He lead blocks. He secondary blocks. He goes in motion. He lines up at H-back or tight end. He splits out wide. He catches a screen or blocks for one, or he beats linebackers in coverage down the field. Juszczyk is a mismatch teams just don’t know how to prepare for, a last vestige of a bygone era. And he’s worth a heck of a lot of points in Scrabble too.
XIV. Tyreek Hill is one of the game’s premier playmakers.
Tyreek Hill the human is not worth celebrating.
Tyreek Hill the football player might be one of the fastest to ever play the game. He can change the game in the blink of an eye, and few things are more exciting than watching Patrick Mahomes cock his arm back and throw the ball as far as humanly possible, knowing Tyreek is going to find his way under the ball with a chance to change the game.
Tyreek is more than just speed. He adjusts well to the ball and can get up and make the catch, and his horizontal speed changes the game at the line of scrimmage too. Don’t be surprised if we get him on special teams a bit as well.
XV. There will be points.
The over/under for this game is set at 54.5 points, and rising. That means oddsmakers expect something like a 28–27 game.
If you want a low-scoring, defensive affair, this may not be the game for you.
XVI. Nick Bosa, rookie stud.
Bosa was the #2 pick in last year’s draft, and he is part of the league’s most entertaining pass rush. You better believe Bosa, Dee Ford, and cohort will be coming after Mahomes early and often. If they can get there with any real regularity, they will swing the game.
XVII. George Kittle.
XVIII. Travis Kelce.
After Mahomes, these might be the two best players on the field, period. Kittle and Kelce are monster tight ends. They block like Pro Bowl linemen. They catch passes and bust up defenses over the middle. They’re the key to both teams’ offense, and they’re the best the league has to offer.
It’s a copycat league, and we can only hope Kittle and Kelce have huge games so the league is forced to try to copy them going forward. And for the record, if I were ranking these in order, these two would go at least 10 spots higher.
XIX. The almost certain trick plays.
Every coach has that one play saved up for the biggest moment, and there’s no bigger moment than the Super Bowl. No one can forget Philly Philly, and Sean Payton’s surprise onside kick lives in Super Bowl lore.
You know Reid and Shanahan have a whole book of trick plays, especially with all that speed available. Could Juszczyk or Kittle throw a goal line jump pass? Would anyone be surprised to see Mahomes catch a pass? You know there will be reverses and wide receiver gadget plays.
My prediction? An Emmanuel Sanders reverse pass. Manny has thrown two TDs in his career, including one this season. Can he go all Antwaan Randle-El?
XX. The expensive commercials.
XXI. The great food.
XXII. The social event of the year.
It’s one of the few remaining gather-your-friends plan-your-day-around-it must-watch-live events of the year. Do it up big, give yourself a food hall pass, enjoy all the overpriced commercials… and get ready to give yourself all the same excuses again for the Oscars in one week.
XXIII. Another halftime throwback show.
Who asked for Jennifer Lopez and Shakira? Some of these guys were toddlers when those two rose to fame, but this is how we do halftime shows now.
Halftime is my chance to hit the restroom and reload my nachos platter, but if Shakira’s hips and Jenny from the Block are more your thing, you do you.
XXV. Richard Sherman is back.
Richard Sherman talks a big game, always. Sherman stayed healthy this year and was maybe the linchpin of this defense, as good as almost any cornerback in the league.
Most quarterbacks stay as far away from Sherman as possible, but Patrick Mahomes isn’t most quarterbacks. Does Sherman have the speed to match up with Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins? Can his physicality bump them off their game before they get going?
XXVI. Honey Badger don’t care.
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the league’s most entertaining defenders, a big time playmaker. Mathieu loves to strip the ball or go for the big hit, and he can pick the quarterback off or sack him on a blitz.
Mathieu might make a few mistakes gambling for the big play, but Honey Badger don’t care. He’s coming for that ball, and the 49ers better be ready.
XXVII. All the pre-snap movement and defensive reactions.
This is a little nerdy, but this game is a football geek’s dream.
If you want to geek out, just watch all the movement from each offense before the snap even happens. A tight end in motion flips the play. A wide receiver in motion reveals zone or man-to-man. A speedy player in motion at whatever position might set up a jet sweep or an end-around, or it might just be a decoy to set up something later.
And watch how the defense reacts too. For every motion, there is a counter motion. These coaches will feel each other out early, and pre-snap motion is the way to see what the defense is doing and throw opponents off the scent. It’s going to be glorious.
XXVIII. It should be a close finish.
Past coin-flip Super Bowls have lived up to the hype, and this one should, too. The Chiefs haven’t lost by 7 points in two seasons, meaning Patrick Mahomes has never lost a game by a touchdown. As long as you have Mahomes, you have a chance.
There’s a good chance the trophy will be on the line late, and we might even get to see Mahomes driving against the league’s best defense with everything on the line. It will be must-see sports.
XXIX. All the Super Bowl betting.
The Super Bowl is the quite literally the gambling Super Bowl of the year, with millions of dollars at stake on almost every play. You can bet on the coin flip. You can bet on the Gatorade color dumped on the winning coach.
There are winning Super Bowl squares and crazy novelty prop bets. Even novices bet on the Super Bowl.
THE BEST SUPER BOWL LIV PROPS
XXX. Patrick Mahomes MVP +115
The Chiefs are -120 to win the Super Bowl right now. If they do win the Super Bowl, it’s almost unimaginable to me who else could be their MVP. Maybe Mecole Hardman on a kick return, or a defensive touchdown?
Patrick Mahomes IS the Chiefs. If you’re picking them to win, you’re much better off taking Mahomes as MVP. It’s literally a 44% better payout.
XXXI. Jimmy Garoppolo MVP +275
Nine of the last 13 Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks. For better or worse, we attribute all the success — or blame — to the QB. If you’re picking the 49ers to win, these odds are in your favor.
XXXII. Deebo Samuel +2500 MVP
XXXIII. Emmanuel Sanders +4500 MVP
That being said, the 49ers do feel like a team that would be likely to have a non-QB MVP winner, and pairing up these two as long shots intrigues me. I like Sanders to make a couple big, veteran plays, and Samuel is the perfect gadget receiver that could give Kansas City matchup nightmares.
San Francisco will probably need 28+ points to win this thing, and that likely means a big game from at least one receiver.
XXXIV. Emmanuel Sanders longest catch over 17.5 yards
Sanders has eight such catches in 12 games with the 49ers. I really think Chicken With Us has at least one big play.
XXXV. DeMarcus Robinson under 26.5 yards receiving
Over at my day job at The Action Network, this is Sean Koerner’s favorite prop, and I can see why. Robinson has been awful the last few weeks, with frequent drops and wrong routes run, and he’s losing snaps rapidly to Hardman. I don’t see him making much of any impact.
XXXVI. Patrick Mahomes over 23.5 passing completions
XXXVII. Patrick Mahomes over 35.5 passing attempts
XXXVIII. Patrick Mahomes over 302.5 passing yards
This trio of bets are among my favorite props on the board. There are just so many reasons Mahomes could come out firing. I’m not afraid of the Chiefs getting way ahead and just running the ball into oblivion. I think they come out in attack mode passing with Mahomes, and if they get behind, I see him throwing early and often.
These lines just seem super low to me. I think Mahomes has a pretty good shot of throwing at least 30 completions, 40 attempts, and 400 yards. None of those are even close to Super Bowl records, in case you’re wondering.
XXXIX. Damien Williams over 3.5 receptions
XL. Kyle Juszczyk over 12.5 yards receiving
See #12 and #13.
XLI. Raheem Mostert under 16 rushes
The great thing about picking unders is that there are so many ways to go under. Case in point: maybe Garoppolo has a big passing game. Maybe the 49ers are behind all game and can’t commit to the run. Maybe Tevin Coleman or Matt Breida get a bunch of Mostert’s carries. Maybe Mostert gets hurt.
This line is 100% recency bias. Mostert has 16 rushes in a game TWICE IN HIS CAREER. One of the best props on the board.
XLII. Jimmy Garoppolo’s first completion under 9.5 yards
Let’s stick with a few more unders. Feels like Shanahan will try to get a nice easy screen or something for Garoppolo’s first throw.
XLIII. Under 10.5 first quarter points
Super Bowls often start out slow, and I expect the same here as teams try to establish the threat of the run early and coaches feel each other out.
XLIV. Under 92.5 commercials aired
Yes, this is a real bet you can make, and no, I have no idea.
XLV. Joe Buck or Troy Aikman will say “Patriots” at some point
Come on, we’re really getting through the entire Super Bowl without any mention of the Patriots? No mention of the defending champion? No mention of Garoppolo’s old team? No Kittle or Kelce comp to Rob Gronkowski?
XLVI. Winning margin 0 to 6 points
I see this as a one-score affair coming down to the final drive.
XLVII. Patrick Mahomes passing touchdowns over Joker Oscars
Okay, so Joker somehow led all movies with 11 Oscar nominations, but how many of those is it actually winning? Maybe costume or makeup? Mahomes will throw at least two TDs, and that alone should do the trick.
XLVIII. Manchester City and Tottenham goals over total TD passes
In the last three years, these teams have played five matches with 4+ goals. The other three were 1–0, but if you’ve watched either City or Spurs play lately, you know darn well this ain’t gonna finish 1–0.
I like at least three or four goals, and that’s a pretty high bar for TD passes. Maybe one team gets all their scores on the ground, or maybe one team just doesn’t score much. I’ll take the goals, especially at +110 odds.
XLIX. James Harden points -7.5 over first half points scored
Saved the best for last. Harden’s points are the best prop on the board. The Super Bowl typically starts out slow, so I would expect something around 20 to 25 points in the first half. Maybe 14–10 or something.
James Harden is in the middle of the highest scoring NBA season since Michael Jordan in 1987, averaging about 36 points a game — and that was closer to 38 or 39 until a recent funk. I’m not worried about that funk against the New Orleans Pelicans, who sport one of the league’s worst defenses and play at one of its fastest paces.
If Harden hits his average, you’d need 29 first-half points to lose the bet. But I smell a 40-point Harden game with a national TV audience watching Sunday afternoon. You might even be able to cash this bet before the Super Bowl kicks off if he has a monster game.
SUPER BOWL LIV PREDICTION
L. The betting favorite has lost 8 of the last 12 Super Bowls.
The Chiefs are one-point favorites.
LI. San Francisco wins if…
Kyle Shanahan outfoxes Andy Reid and doesn’t take his foot off the gas The 49ers defense is the best unit on the field The best Niners defense is a lethal run game that keeps Patrick Mahomes watching from the sidelines Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, et al get to Mahomes and frustrate him all game Travis Kelce isn’t healthy enough to make the Chiefs offense go and Kansas City can’t put together long, sustained drives The 49ers are the better all-around, more balanced team
LII. Kansas City wins if…
Andy Reid’s vaunted record with two weeks to prepare holds up Patrick Mahomes does Patrick Mahomes things The 49ers don’t have the juice to keep up in a track meet Damien Williams is the best back on the field The Chiefs second-half defensive improvement is for real Mahomes is just way, way better than Garoppolo
LIII. I just can’t talk myself into the under.
The over/under has risen from 51.5 to 54.5 and still bets keep pouring in on the over. The public is never that right.
And still, I can’t talk myself into the under. The Chiefs have scored at least 23 points in all but one game the last two years. The Niners have at least 22 every game but two this season, and one of those was a monsoon. That’s at least 45 points already as a floor.
These defenses are good. But the schemes and the weapons are just too good.
LIV. San Francisco 33, Kansas City 31
In the end, I just think the 49ers are a little bit better.
I’m rooting for Mahomes and Reid to get the big one, but I’ll be pretty happy for both teams and expect this to be a great game.
I’ll take San Francisco +1 and the over, though I’d prefer just taking the 49ers moneyline at +109.
That’s it! Enjoy the game.