Mahomes a big favorite in the Super Bowl LIV MVP odds, but don’t look past these live long shots

Leave a comment

The matchup for Super Bowl LIV is set as the San Francisco 49ers prepare to throw down with the Kansas City Chiefs. That means one thing above all: prop bets. A ton of them. And one of the most-wagered prop bets every year is who will win the Big Game’s Most Valuable Player Award. This year should be no different, particularly with some fresh faces on the field.

Julian Edelman snapped the skid of skill-position players not winning Super Bowl MVP last year, but oddsmakers are betting things return to normal this time around, expecting a quarterback to claim the prize for the 10th time in the last 14 years. As a result, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to win at about EVEN money depending where you look (some have him -110), while the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo has the next best odds at +250.

It’s no surprise Mahomes is the sizeable favorite. The K.C. gunslinger is at another level now that he’s fully healthy, which is incredible considering it looked like his season might be over after suffering a dislocated knee back in Week 7. Mahomes is completing 66 percent of his passes for 615 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason, while adding another 106 yards and a score on the ground.

Jimmy G, on the other hand, has looked much more mortal despite showing some flashes of brilliance in the passing game this season. Not to mention, Niners’ head coach Kyle Shanahan has put a real emphasis on the run over the last month or so, as Garoppolo hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns or more than 285 yards since the Week 14 shootout against the Saints. But Shanahan has two weeks to cook up a game plan and Garoppolo could be the quarterback of the winning team in the Super Bowl.

The problem is neither quarterback provides much value for the bettor out there looking to take a flyer on a dark horse to win the award. So, who can be this year’s Edelman?

Even with the Niners proclivity for running the ball, it’s probably not going to be a running back (sorry Raheem Mostert fans). You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find the last back to win the award when the Broncos’ Terrell Davis was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXII.

That said, here are some live long shots to win MVP of Super Bowl LIV:

GEORGE KITTLE (+1,600)

If we’re looking away from a 49ers running back the best option on their offense is without a doubt George Kittle. The explosive tight end had another great season, hauling in 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also one of the best blocking tight ends in the league and whether he’s catching passes or not, Kittle is an integral part of the 49ers’ playbook.

Kittle has been quiet in the playoffs (due mostly to the fact the Niners have barely had to pass in their two playoff games) but he’s going to have an opportunity to have a big impact on this game. While Kansas City has a strong pass defense led by Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs have been vulnerable against tight ends. They allowed the third most receptions and the fifth most yards to tight ends in the regular season.

We expect this game to be much more competitive than the Niners’ first two playoffs games which in turn means leaning more on the pass game. And Kittle, as we mentioned, is San Francisco’s most talented pass catcher. If he can turn his targets into over 100 yards, a couple of scores and some emphatic blocks to top it off, he could easily be lifting the MVP trophy at the end of the night.

RICHARD SHERMAN (+6,000)

Another path to a 49ers’ victory in Super Bowl LIV would be through another dominating performance from their elite defense. San Francisco ranked second in the NFL in defensive DVOA, including second against the pass and ranked third in sack percentage. If there’s any team out there that can make life uncomfortable for Mahomes, it’s the Niners. And it’s not like defenders haven’t won the MVP recently. Von Miller won it with the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 and Malcolm Smith captured the award in the Seahawks’ victory in Super Bowl 48.

If the 49ers can ride their defense to a Super Bowl title, which defender are we going to back to win MVP. My initial thought would be to back super-rookie Nick Bosa. The defensive end is a shoe in to win Defensive Rookie of the Year after recording nine sacks and 25 QB hits in the regular season. Bosa has followed that up with three more sacks during the playoffs. The problem with backing Bosa is No.1: at +2,500 the value is already gone. And No. 2: it could be any one of the Niners’ excellent defensive lineman that has a big game.

That means we’re looking at the brash but effective Richard Sherman. The cornerback might not be as great at he once was, but he sure has stepped up in big games and is still an excellent scheme corner. Sherman already has two picks in the playoffs and if that Niners defensive front is able to pressure Mahomes into some bad passes, he could get one or two more. If the game is lower scoring than expected or he returns one for a score, watch out. We could be hearing a lot more from Sherman.

MECOLE HARDMAN (+6,600)

The true Edelman candidates in this matchup both play for the Chiefs and they are tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. One or both could have huge games, and are good value at +1,600, but it’s almost impossible to envision either one having a big game without Mahomes having a bigger one. So, we turn our attention to another K.C. wideout: rookie Mecole Hardman.

Hardman can flat out fly. He has 4.33 forty speed and averaged 20.7 yards per reception this season, making 26 receptions for 538 yards which includes six scores. He’s also an elite weapon in the return game, averaging over 26 yards per kick return and including one for a touchdown and nearly 10 yards per punt return.

Your hope here is that, once again, the game is a little lower scoring than expected and that while San Francisco is busy trying to contain Kelce and Hill, Hardman is able to beat them over the top once for a big score and then return a punt or kick for a touchdown. Crazier things have happened.

PICK: While I’ll be sprinkling a little on each of these players, Mahomes is the horse I’m backing with the majority of my Super Bowl MVP bankroll. The guy is just so special and at even money, he’s still great value.

Check out all the odds for Super Bowl LIV MVP

PLAYER ODDS PLAYER ODDS
Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) +100 Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers) +250
Raheem Mostert (49ers) +700 George Kittle (49ers) +1600
Travis Kelce (Chiefs) +1600 Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) +1600
Damien Williams (Chiefs) +2200 Nick Bosa (49ers) +2500
Deebo Samuel (49ers) +2500 Emmanuel Sanders (49ers) +3300
Sammy Watkins (Chiefs) +3300 Tevin Coleman (49ers) +5000
Richard Sherman (49ers) +6000 Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) +6600
Matt Breida (49ers) +6600 Frank Clark (Chiefs) +8000
Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs) +10000 Arik Armstead (49ers) +10000
DeForest Buckner (49ers) +12500 LeSean McCoy (Chiefs) +15000
Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) +20000 Kendrick Bourne (49ers) +20000

College basketball odds, picks and predictions: Bet on big first half from Oregon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baylor aims to stay at the top of the NCAA men’s basketball rankings as they take on a reeling West Virginia squad on Saturday, while Oregon looks to crush visiting Utah on Sunday night. We break down the college basketball odds for those games and much more as we bring you the best betting notes, picks and predictions across the NCAA this weekend.   

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS AT BAYLOR BEARS

Things don’t get any easier for No. 14 West Virginia as they come off back-to-back losses. The Mountaineers fell to Oklahoma on the road last Saturday before losing at home to Kansas on Wednesday. They scored an average of just 54 points per game in those two contests and now take on No. 1 Baylor who has held foes to 58.3 ppg on 38.4 percent shooting this season.

Generally the best way to attack the 1-1-3 zone defense that Baylor employs is to attack with a pair of guards that can dribble and drive, as well as knock down the occasional jumper. Unfortunately for WVU, while they have strong players down low, they lack scoring punch in their backcourt. Look for the Bears to hold the Mountaineers Under their team total. 

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS AT OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

Anyone who has been following the Big Ten this season knows that most schools are killing at home and just getting shredded on the road. Purdue and Ohio State represent this trend probably better than anyone, especially during the first half of games.

The Buckeyes have an average first-half scoring margin of plus-12.2 ppg at home (fifth-best in the country) but that drops to minus-1.8 on the road. The Boilermakers have an average first-half margin of plus-11.7 ppg at home and that falls to minus-1.7 on the road.

With Purdue putting up just 27.6 first half ppg on the road, and Ohio State holding opponents to 25 first half ppg in Columbus, take Ohio State on the 1H spread.

GONZAGA BULLDOGS AT PEPPERDINE WAVES

The Zags have the No. 2 team in the country but they might not have the best betting value when they face Pepperdine on the road on Saturday night. Gonzaga is coming off a 30-point rout of Saint Mary’s but prior to that game they failed to cover in three straight contests.

Pepperdine is 25th in the country in scoring with 77.2 ppg and is 7-3 SU over their last 10 contests. They also played well against Gonzaga in the last meeting between the two squads, falling by a score of 75-70 on the road on January 4. A matter of fact, the Waves are 3-1 ATS in the last four games of the head-to-head with the Zags.

With Gonzaga usually a massive favorite, laying at least 10 points in 13 of their last 14 contests (and laying at least 20 points in seven of those), the underdog Waves have value on the spread.   

UTAH UTES AT OREGON DUCKS

Utah is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS on the road in Pac-12 play, losing by scoring margins of 39, 19, 19, 16, 14 and 4 points. A common theme for Utah in those losses has been ice-cold shooting, far too many turnovers and a tendency to fall behind early. In three of those games, including Thursday night against Oregon State, the Utes were down at least 16 points by halftime.

On Sunday the Utes wrap up their Oregon road trip as they face the No. 17 Ducks. The Ducks are tied for first place in the Pac-12 after a come from behind win against Colorado on Thursday.

Led by guards Payton Pritchard (19.3 points and 6 assists per game) and Chris Duarte (14 ppg), the Ducks rank 19th in the country in offensive efficiency. And Pritchard and Duarte are especially effective at home where they shoot a combined 49 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep. Bet on Oregon to cover the first half spread.  

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: BRIGHAM YOUNG COUGARS (19-7, 17-9 ATS, 15-11 O/U)

BYU received 43 votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll and is currently riding a five-game winning streak. Over their last 17 games the Cougars have gone 14-3 SU and 13-4 ATS. BYU has the best group of outside shooters in the country, connecting on 10.9 made 3-point shots per game while shooting 42.5 percent from deep.

On Saturday, BYU heads to the Jenny Craig Pavillion (seriously that’s what it’s called) to take on the San Diego Toreros. The Toreros are at the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings and shoot just 41.2 percent from the floor. That’s right: San Diego shoots worse from the field than BYU does from beyond the arc.

NATIONAL TITLE ODDS

Dayton has been flying up the NCAA futures odds board and is currently listed as high as +1,600 at some books. The Flyers are fifth in the country in scoring (81.6 ppg) and first in shooting percentage (52.3), and haven’t lost a game since December. While detractors might point at the lack of stiff competition in the Atlantic 10 Conference, it’s worth noting that the Flyers only two losses this season occured in overtime and one of them was against No. 3 Kansas.

On Saturday, Dayton is on the road against the Massachusetts Minutemen. The Minutemen allow 72.9 ppg on 46.5 percent shooting (328th in the country) and lost by 28 points to Dayton on January 11.

BETTING TRENDS

• The Toledo Rockets are just 1-10 ATS at home this season. On Friday they host the Buffalo Bulls who are 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four games in the head-to-head. The Rockets look like a good fade as 2.5-point favorites.  

• Over the last ten days SEC conference games have gone 13-4 O/U. If you’re looking for a solid Over bet in SEC play this weekend, the matchup between Mississippi State and Arkansas looks good. Arkansas has cashed the Over in eight straight games while Miss State is 7-1 O/U in its previous eight contests.

• The top ATS team in the country are the North Florida Osprey who are 19-6 ATS, including 7-1 ATS over their last eight games. On Saturday, the Osprey host the North Alabama Lions. North Florida is 4-0 ATS in four games against North Alabama dating back to last season.

2020 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge odds to win and betting picks: Don’t fade the big men

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA skills challenge might not be the flashiest event at the All-Star Game, but it has proved to be very profitable for bettors who like to wager on underdogs. We take a look at the odds to win the NBA skills challenge for this year’s field and break down our betting picks for the 2020 event.  

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR THE TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE?

The skills challenge features eight NBA players going through an obstacle course which tests their dribbling skills, passing ability, agility and shooting.

Two players face off next to each other on identical courses on the court. For the first leg, they run down the court while dribbling between five obstacles, before throwing a pass through a target. Then they turn around and dribble back the full length of the court for a lay up. Then they head back up the court before hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The first player to sink his shot from beyond the arc wins.

It’s a single elimination format with three rounds and the brackets won’t be chosen until Saturday.

ODDS TO WIN NBA SKILLS CHALLENGE

PLAYER TEAM ODDS
Spencer Dinwiddie Brooklyn Nets +350
Khris Middleton Milwaukee Bucks +410
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Oklahoma City Thunder +460
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics +550
Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors +550
Domantis Sabonis Indiana Pacers +850
Patrick Beverley Los Angeles Clippers +900
Bam Adebayo Miami Heat +1,200

NBA SKILLS CHALLENGE BETTING PREDICTION

This year’s event features three former winners: Patrick Beverley (2015), Spencer Dinwiddie (2018) and Jayson Tatum (2019). While Dinwiddie has the best odds to win at +350, if recent history is any indication this is one contest where underdogs have a good chance of coming out on top.

Since the event started including big men in 2016, two players have won with the worst odds (Dinwiddie and Karl-Anthony Towns) while another took home the title with the second-worst odds (Kristaps Porzingis in 2016). Last year, Tatum won with the fifth-best odds at +600.

That said, we’re not taking the player with the worst odds this year. Adebayo is having a terrific season but he’s only connected on one 3-point shot all year (on 11 attempts), so the final step in this event could prove to be a challenge.

We like the +550 payout for Tatum to repeat, but our money is on the player tied with Tatum in the odds department: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. Siakam is quicker and has better handles than many give him credit for, and he’s really improved his shot from beyond the arc this season (connecting on more than two 3-point shots per game at a clip of 36 percent).

Siakam also seems to play at his best when the pressure is on, so expect him to thrive under the spotlight in Chicago this weekend. We’re betting on the Raptors’ big man.