Every NFL bet you need to make for Super Bowl LIV

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Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and Chiefs is finally here! And we’ve spent the last two weeks combing through the best betting angles for the Big Game – compiling the greatest list player props, derivatives and everything in between. From the National at to the Gatorade shower, we have every bet you need to make this Sunday Sunday.

PLAYER PROP — RAHEEM MOSTERT OVER 65.5 RUSHING YARDS

Even if Tevin Coleman were 100 percent healthy — which he isn’t — we would still love this number. Coleman got in a full practice on Friday and will suit up Sunday, but his effectiveness is unknown. San Francisco is too dominant of a running team and now get to face the No. 29 DVOA rush defense that allowed rushers to trot for 4.8 yards per carry (6th-most) over the season.

In the playoff, the 49ers have run the ball on 77 percent of their offensive plays and finished second in the league in rushing attempts per game at 32.6. The Mostert total opened at 60.5, went to 65.5 quickly and is still available on some books at 73.5. Considering some other books have it at 80.5, 73.5 is still a good play.

QUICK HITTER — CHIEFS FIRST-HALF TEAM TOTAL OVER 13.5

The Kansas City Chiefs have combined for 90 first-half points in their two playoff games and are averaging 24.5 points themselves in the first 30 minutes. We will call it a winner if the Chiefs can score two touchdowns, something they haven’t had any problems doing.

Patrick Mahomes and the offense have scored seven times in the first half throughout the playoffs —  all of those scores being touchdowns. A lot of the TD success has come from the team’s ability to cross the goal line in the red zone as K.C. has scored a TD in each of its six red-zone trips in the postseason.

With the Chiefs averaging just over two minutes per first-half TD drive, we like Andy Reid putting together a great offensive gameplan for the early possessions before the 49ers adjust and make life more difficult for later in the game. We like the Over Chiefs’ first-half total 13.5.

TEAM PROPS — TEAM TO SCORE LONGEST TD – KANSAS CITY -120

The Chiefs have been the better team this postseason at scoring the longer touchdown. Kansas City has scored six touchdowns of 40-plus yards in its last seven games while scoring the longest TD in six of its last seven.

Since Week 15, San Francisco has scored just one TD of 40-plus yards (a defensive TD) and has an average TD length of 14.25 yards over that stretch while the Chiefs’ average touchdown length over that same time is 22 yards.

If the game flow goes as we predict it: San Francisco playing with the lead and pounding the rock, then K.C. will be put in a better position to take their shots and push the ball. The Niners also gave up receptions of 65, 42 and 23 yards in the Conference Finals and let Stefon Diggs score a 41-yard TD in the Divisional Round. We are taking the Chiefs and the more explosive offense to score the longest TD at -120.

NON-FOOTBALL PROP BET — LIME/GREEN/YELLOW +450

The Gatorade bath has become one of the more popular Super Bowl Special bets. Recently, there was some talk online about the Gatorade being purple in honor of Kobe (why not yellow?). This, in turn, has dropped the price of purple from +1800 all the way to -130.

If you missed the purple rush, go with the other color that represents the late Lakers star — yellow. Yellow is grouped with green and lime so there are no shenanigans on similar colors. It’s also the other wager that moved the least in the last week, going from +350 to +450.

LONGSHOT MVP — MECOLE HARDMAN, K.C. CHIEFS +1800

The Chiefs’ return man and wide receiver has game-breaking speed and the ability to make a huge play on the kick return. Where most teams sit north of 50 percent on touchback percentage, the 49ers and kicker Robbie Gould are getting touchbacks at the 7th-worst rate in the league at 50 percent. This means the best return man in the league will have ample opportunities to make something big happen.

If Hardman can take it to the house (+1600 for a kickoff return TD) he will join only a handful of players to do so: Fulton Walker SB17 (lost game), Stanford Jennings SB23 (lost game), Andre Coleman SB29 (lost game), Desmond Howard SB 31 (MVP), Tim Dwight SB33 (lost game), Ron Dixon SB 35 (lost game), Jermaine Lewis SB 35, Devin Hester SB 41 (lost game), Jacoby Jones SB 47 (robbed of MVP, damn you Flacco) and Percy Harvin SB48.

The talent is there, the opportunity is as well and the price isn’t going to have anyone complaining. Maybe the 49ers can give up their fourth Super Bowl kickoff touchdown since Super Bowl XXVII. We are taking Harman as our longshot MVP at +1800.

FIVE YARDS FOR A WINNER

Looking to diversify your player prop portfolio for Sunday’s game? Well, Jimmy Garoppolo’s rushing total sits at an unheard of 4.5 yards. That’s basically one small jump for a winner. There is obviously a reason why his total is so low as the San Francisco quarterback is averaging just 3.6 yards rushing a game thanks to a 1.4 yards per carry.

The G-man has gone over 4.5 rushing yards in just six of his 18 games this year but is 2-1 O/U in the 49ers three losses. A trend that sits in the QB’s favor is that KC has allowed opposing quarterbacks to top 4.5 yards in six of its last seven games including a 20-yard rushing performance from Tom Brady in Week 14.

If Brady can do it, so can Garoppolo. This one is more fun than anything else, but we are still adding Garoppolo’s Over 4.5 rushing yards to our championship plays.

BETTING ON THE LAST PLAY

The Super Bowl brings us a plethora of game props that aren’t usually available during the regular season. When Over/Under shortest touchdown of 1.5 yards is a standard game prop for you, then you need some weird action to tickle your fancy.

One such play caught our attention: last play of game QB rush (yes -167; no +136). If you’re taking the “no” you will be hoping for a comeback as the victory formation is your greatest enemy and if you’re backing the yes, a quarterback kneel is considered a rushing attempt.

Looking back on each teams’ last five wins, three losses and the last play of the previous seven Super Bowls gives us these results:

San Francisco last five wins — 3-2 Y/N
San Francisco last three losses — 0-3 Y/N

Kansas City last five wins — 5-0 Y/N
Kansas City last three losses — 1-2 Y/N

Last 10 Super Bowls — 4-6 Y/N

This is another bet that you can add to the “fun list” of props as cheering for the plus-money “No” keeps you hoping for the trailing offense to keep possession. We see this closer to a 50/50 bet than the odds suggest and are happy to take the No for +136.

WAITING FOR THE FIRST

We don’t know much about chronological order as we are segueing from the last play of the game to the contest’s first TD. If you’re in the boat that thinks the 49ers won’t have any difficulty rushing the ball against the Chiefs’ No. 29 DVOA rush defense, there are many special bets out there.

The one that took our attention was regarding how the first TD will be scored. Passing TD – First TD of the Game is a big favorite as it sits at -156 while Any Other TD – First TD of the Game is a tempting +120.

The 49ers had the league’s third-best rushing touchdown percentage at just under 50 percent and that number jumps to 85 percent over their last five games. The Chiefs could also help us out with a winner as they have scored rushing TDs at a 42-percent rate of their total offensive TDs, but we like the Niners to get the first crack at an easier touchdown with their defense making life more difficult than the K.C. offense is used to.

We like the Any Other TD – First TD of the Game at +120

KITTLE VS. KELCE

Super Bowl 54 features arguably the two best tight ends in the NFL. Travis Kelce and George Kittle finished first and third respectively in receiving yards this year as Kelce averaged nearly ten yards more than the 49ers TE.

With San Francisco committing to the run, Kittle has stayed in and helped with the blocking as he has been targeted six times in the playoffs and just once in the Conference round. Kelce, on the other hand, put up 134 yards on 10 grabs and a trio of touchdowns in the Divisional game and sputtered a bit versus Tennessee gaining just 30 yards on three grabs.

With the K.C. offense’s motor being driven by the passing game, we will take Kelce to get the most receiving yards between him and Kittle. Kelce pays -120 to outperform the San Fran TE.

INFLATING TOTAL

Patrick Mahomes has topped his rushing totals in both his playoff wins. In the Divisional Round, the Kansas City QB rushed for 53 yards, crushing his rushing total of 19.5 yards. One week earlier, the 2018 MVP ran for 53 yards and also paid Over backers with his total of 18.5 yards.

Now in the big game, Mahomes’ rushing total has catapulted to 32.5 yards. Mahomes was 2-12 O/U 32.5 yards during the regular season and has only rushed for more than 32 yards in five of his 32 career games.

San Francisco has also done a very good job of limiting opposing QBs from scrambling. Kirk Cousins didn’t attempt one rush three weeks ago and Aaron Rodgers rushed once for zero yards two weeks ago. Even in the four games leading up to the playoffs, San Fran held QBs to 3.8 yards per carry on 18 rushes for 69 yards with no signal-caller reaching the 30-yard mark.

We don’t like taking Unders, especially against possibly the best player in the game, but we feel that Mahomes’ rushing total has been inflated a bit too much. We are taking the Under 32.5 yards rushing for the K.C. QB.

TOUGH TASK FOR WILLIAMS

The Chiefs’ Damien Williams has hauled in seven passes this postseason for 65 yards which puts the running back’s yards per reception at 9.28 yards on the small sample. Add in Weeks 16 and 17 — Williams missed the four games prior due to injury — and you get a back who sees 90 percent of the backfield snaps averaging 30.5 receiving yards per game on 3.5 catches (5.5 targets).

This Sunday, Williams has his total set right around that average at 29.5 yards, a number he might find difficult topping against the 49ers elite defense.

San Francisco was the best team in the league at limiting opposing running backs’ receiving yards. The league’s No. 2 defense held RBs to just 25.5 yards receiving on six targets per game in 2019. Aaron Jones caught all five of his targets in the Conference Finals and still finished with only 27 yards. Dalvin Cook fared even worse as he hauled in six of his eight targets in the Divisional game and finished with a whopping eight yards. Cook and Jones finished 5th and 8th in RB receiving yards respectively.

With the Niners rushing just four guys on most plays, it’s tough sleddding for running backs to get open and seperate from defenders. We are fading the Chiefs RB in the passing game and taking the Under 30.5 yards receiving.

THE FIRST PLAY OF SUPER BOWL LIV

With tons of money being thrown at the coin toss, is it that much more degenerate to put some dollars on the first offensive play of the game? Run is the heavy favorite at -164 with Pass paying +110. Let’s look into each team’s trends regarding their first offensive play:

  • In the playoffs, both teams have run the ball on the first play all four times. In the playoffs, the Run is 3-1 in the four games that both the Chiefs and 49ers have played.
  • Over the Chiefs’ last 10 games (excluding playoffs), the offense has run the ball six of 10 times on the first play. The Chiefs’ opponents ran the ball on the first play in six of the last 10 regular-season games.
  • Over the 49ers’ last 10 games (excluding playoffs), the offense ran the ball seven of 10 times on the first play. The 49ers’ opponents ran the ball on the first play in eight of the last 10 regular-season games.
  • The first offensive play from the previous 10 Super Bowls was split 5-5, however, a pass was the first play in four of the last five Super Bowls.

The juice is heavy for a reason as almost all the trends point to a run on the first play. It might be worth it.

CHOOSING SIDES

We are down to four sleeps till Super Bowl 54. Neither the line nor the total has moved much since it opened on Jan 20 at Sports Interaction. The Chiefs are still 1.5-point chalk after opening at -1 while the total opened at 53.5, peaked at 55 and now sits at 54.

It may sound cliche, but this is a classic defense-against-offense matchup with Kansas City’s top-three DVOA offense facing San Francisco’s No. 2 DVOA defense. The biggest advantage the 49ers have is their defensive-front four who are so disruptive that Robert Saleh seldom has to commit his linebackers and secondary to blitzes. The Niners sat in the bottom-three in blitz percentage as it allows them to drop seven players in coverage.

Not blitzing could also help in another situation as the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has a quarterback rating of 117.2 when facing the blitz versus 106.3 when not.

Statistically, the Chiefs have 56 first downs through their two playoff games with just eight of those coming on third down — 8-for-18. San Fran’s defense could put Mahomes and the offense in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position by forcing Kansas City to pass the ball on third down against seven defenders in coverage.

We usually look at player/team props and derivatives, but it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t get our two cents in on the side. We have made our choice and going with the defense — Niners +1.5.

WINNING BIG WITH SPECIAL TEAMS

With a lofty total of 54 points, SB54 could have its fair share of scoring. With scoring comes the usually bland kick returns, unless you’re the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs’ full-time returner, Mecole Hardman, led the league in return yards with 932 — 100 yards more than the next player.

Hardman will have ample opportunities to make something happen as the 49ers have a touchback percentage of 50 percent which ranks in the bottom seven of the league. On top of leading the league in return yards, the K.C. returner with 4.3 wheels also has the longest kickoff return this year at 104 yards and is only one of seven players to score a kickoff return TD. The last kickoff return TD in a Super Bowl was by Jacoby Jones back in 2012.

Very few things in a football game are as exciting as a kickoff return touchdown, especially when it pays 15 times your wager. Find the “Will there be a kickoff return TD” and add the Yes (+1427) to your betting slip.

THE LONGEST YARD

Looking at both the longest score props of the game, the longest touchdown scored prop sits at 44.5 yards while the longest field goal’s total is 47.5 yards. It may be fun to play these bets, but previous Super Bowls haven’t been very profitable for these Overs.

In the last 10 Super Bowls, Over 47.5 yards for the longest field has hit just once — Rams’ Greg Zuerlein’s 53-yarder last year. To make matters even worse the Over is just 3-7 O/U in the Chiefs and 49ers combined previous five games while the Chiefs have attempted just one field goal this postseason.

Since Super Bowl 44, a touchdown of 45 yards or longer has been scored six times, but only in four of the 10 games. Of those six, only one was scored by an offense** (three interception returns, a punt return and a kickoff return). San Francisco is 1-4 O/U longest TD of 44.5 yards in its last five with the only long score coming on a pick-six and Kansas City is 3-2 O/U that total in its last five. 45 Yards is longer than we think as even Stefon Diggs’ TD against the Niners in the Divisional round was shy at 41 yards.

We don’t always like betting with the trends, but this one has our interest and we have no problem hitting the Under on both longest field goal and longest TD.

**So, here is the question: Which QB threw the longest TD in a Super Bowl over the last 10 years?

FEELS GREAT BABY

We keep coming back to the point that Jimmy Garoppolo has attempted just 27 passes in his two playoff games. In those two games, he has just 17 completions, one touchdown and an interception. That’s what happens when your team doesn’t trail. Jimmy G has yet to play catch-up mode in a sudden death game. That could change next weekend.

In the 10 games that Garoppolo has had to throw at least 27 passes (his season average) the San Francisco quarterback has an impressive 20 touchdowns but has also thrown 10 interceptions.

Kansas City had the 7th-most interceptions averaging 0.9 per game during the regular season and even though it has yet to record an interception in the postseason, the Chiefs have come very close with a few drops versus Deshaun Watson and an overturned pick against Ryan Tannehill.

We are backing the Over 0.5 Garoppolo interceptions.

MOSTERT MASH

We think our strongest play is the Raheem Mostert Over 65.5 rush yards that we wrote about yesterday. The line has moved from -120 to -175 since then. We are comfortable taking the Over up to 75-79 yards and feel his anytime touchdown (-120) is of great value as well, considering that Chiefs running back Damien Williams’ anytime TD is at -152.

Williams is running against the league’s second-best defense (11th in DVOA rush) while Mostert matches-up against the league’s No. 14 defense (29th in DVOA rush). The Chiefs have been anything but stingy in regards to giving up rushing touchdowns as they tied for the ninth-most rushing TDs allowed per game (0.9) this year.

If we are jumping on the Mostert Over rushing total then we have zero problems complimenting it with an anytime TD.

WHERE DO YOU MICROPHONE-STAND?

In a previous interview, Super Bowl anthem singer Demi Lovato mentioned that both Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson are two of her main musical influences. Lovato is also featured in Aguilera’s 2018 song Fall in Line.

So where are we going with this? Well, it just so happens that Aguilera and Clarkson have both sung the national anthem at Super Bowls in 2011 and 2012 respectively and there could be chance that this year’s singer could be studying her idols and predecessors for her performance on next Sunday.

Both Aguilera and Clarkson wore black dresses with the latter using a microphone stand while Aguilera did not. Lovato is paying -200 if she performs in a dress, skirt or gown and also pays +135 if she chooses to sing without a microphone stand.

In the last 10 Super Bowl anthems, females have worn a dress, skirt or gown in five of nine times (only one dress has been worn since 2014) and singers have sung without a microphone stand in seven of the last 10 performances.

Say no to the stand for a possible plus-money winner.

FLAG ON THE PLAY

Looking for a real degen bet, how about cheering for flags? Both teams are paying -120 to accept the first penalty of the game. The Chiefs and 49ers each finished in the middle of the league in penalties per game at just over six per game and both forced their opponents this year to nearly eight flags per contest.

Kansas City’s opponents have taken 23 penalties for 212 yards over its last three games compared to San Francisco’s opponents’ 12 penalties for 89 yards since Week 17. Both teams are taking penalties at about the same rate over their last few games, but the biggest difference is that the Chiefs are forcing teams to commit twice as many penalties as the 49ers are.

If you’re a fan of laundry, take the Chiefs to accept the first penalty of the game.

QUICK STRIKING

The Kansas City Chiefs have played two playoff games and have combined for 90 first-half points. They have spotted their opponents 20.5 first-half points per game while Patrick Mahomes and the offense have averaged 24.5 themselves. The Chiefs have done  all their first-half scoring with seven touchdowns and zero field goals as the red zone has become a familiar and comfortable place for the offense. In their six, first-half trips inside their opponents’ 20, Kansas City has scored six TDs.

San Francisco has been no stranger to first-half Overs as they have put up 41 first-half points in its two playoff games and have seen first-half totals of 27 and 24 points. We love how quickly Mahomes and the Chiefs can score (averaging just over two minutes per first-half touchdown drive in the playoffs) and are riding the Chiefs’ first-half team total Over 13.5 points but think the first-half Over 27 is also a great play.

LONGER THAN YOURS

With the 49ers leaning on the run heavily through two playoff games (89 rushing attempts to just 27 passes) we think K.C. has the best chance of scoring the longest touchdown and with the odds at -120 for both teams, we see great value.

The Chiefs have scored six touchdowns of 40-plus yards over their last seven games and have scored the longest TD in six of those sevens games. The 49ers, on the other hand, have scored just one TD of 40-plus yards (a defensive INT) since Week 15 and have an average TD length of 14.25 yards over that stretch (K.C. averages 22 yards per TD).

Last week, the Niners gave up receptions of 65, 42 and 23 yards to the Packers and let Stefon Diggs score a 41-yard touchdown in the Divisional round. We are taking the more explosive offense to score the longest TD.

PUPPY BOWL 16

The Puppy Bowl is the appetizer for the day’s big match. The Animal Planet “competition” features adoptable pets from rescue shelters (most are already adopted by kickoff) from all over America. Some books have odds on the spread (Team Fluff -7.5 +100 Vs. Team Ruff +7.5 -140), gender of MVP (male -130, female -110) and will a puppy attempt to mate (yes +350, No -600). There are 42 starters (21 aside) and each team has 27 backups.

Of the 42 starters, 24 of them are 17 weeks or younger while the remaining 18 are 18 weeks or older. If the MVP is Under 17.5 weeks old is, bettors can pick up 1.57 times their wager and 2.35 times if the MVP is Over 17.5 weeks old. A sharp line indeed, maybe we will just take Team Ruff and the points at -140.

TOTAL WARMING

San Francisco running back Tevin Coleman was still sidelined at practice on Thursday after dislocating his shoulder last week. He was seen running on the sidelines but there could be great value jumping on his teammate’s rushing total early.

With his rushing total at 65.5 yards, it would seem the books aren’t expecting Raheem Mostert to take the entirety of the backfield touches (last week Mostert’s and Coleman’s combiined totals were around 95 yards) on an offense that has averaged 44.5 rushes per game during its postseason run. If Coleman’s outlook becomes bleaker as the weekend hits, Mostert’s total could easily hit 72-79 yards.

Although the K.C. rush defense held Derrick Henry to 69 yards last week, this is still a unit that finished 29th in DVOA rush defense this year and faces a San Francisco rushing attack that has been getting 4.54 yards per carry over its last four games against the 8th, 9th, 23rd and 26th DVOA rush defenses.

Sign us up for Mostert’s Over on his 65.5 rushing yards.

WATKINS CORNER

Lost in all the Patrick Mahomes hoopla is the production of Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins. Through two playoff games, the veteran receiver has 190 yards on nine catches and one touchdown. Watkins has catches of 60, 48 and 28 yards this postseason as the third- or fourth-best option in the K.C. passing game.

Watkins could get loose in San Fran’s Cover 3 if the deep safety is distracted by Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce, possibly leaving Watkins in single coverage. With Watkins running about 40 percent of his snaps out of the slot, he has the chance to test and expose different members of San Francisco’s secondary.

Watkins’ yardage total sits at 48.5 yards, a number he has gone Over in four of his last six games. Another Watkins bet we love is the Over 20.5 yards for his longest reception. The Chiefs WR is 6-1 O/U on that total across his last seven games.

PASS THE BALL, JIMMY

Over his last four wins dating back to Week 16, San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has averaged 12.75 completions on 19 passes for 185 yards. Jimmy G has thrown the ball more than 34 times just four times this year and is running an offense that has rushed 89 times in its last two win-or-go-home games.

The most frequent runners this year were the Baltimore Ravens who led the league with 37.7 rush attempts per game — the 49ers are averaging 44.5 rushes per game in the playoffs.

With Garoppolo’s passing attempt total at 32.5, we are recommending the Under as the 49ers running game should enjoy the Chiefs’ No. 29 DVOA rush defense, keeping the QB in hand-off mode.

IS IT IN YOU?

One of the more popular prop bets at the Super Bowl is what color will the liquid be that is dumped on the winning coach. The last 10 championship showers have been orange (4), blue (2), none (2), yellow (1) and purple (1) — clear hasn’t won since 2007.

The current odds are as follows:
• Red +150
• Clear/ Water +300
• Lime/Green/Yellow +325
• Orange +400
• Blue +500
• Purple +1800

If you’re looking for an edge: Andy Reid was seen drinking lime-colored sports drink back in Week 15. Red is most likely the lowest odds because both teams share that color. Reid was doused with Yellow Gatorade back in 2013 after beating the Eagles. Last year, the Patriots got coach Bill Belichik with some blue drink and the year before the Eagles got Doug Pederson with a yellow bath.

UNDECIDED

Not sure who to take in Super Bowl 54, take a look at the Team to Score First Wins – No bet for +130. This bet offers great value and does all the work for you in regard to choosing sides. If San Francisco scores first — something it has done in four of its last five games — then you will be cheering for Kansas City.

The Chiefs have hit the “No” in both of their playoff games as the Texans and Titans put up the first points while the 49ers scored first in their two playoff games but had the Team to Score First Wins – No hit in four of their final five regular-season games.

RUNNING INTO PROBLEMS

Damien Williams has seen 29 of the Chiefs’ 30 running back carries in the playoffs but has gained just 92 yards against the No. 22 and No. 10 rush defenses. Should we expect the running back to top his rushing total of 53.5 yards against San Francisco’s No. 2 DVOA defense that held Aaron Jones to 12-56-1 and Dalvin Cook to 9-18-0?

Over their last five games, the 49ers have allowed an average of 44.6 yards to opposing teams’ leading rusher. The Niners have a theme of not giving up big gains on the ground as the longest rushing play, they have given up in the last six weeks was a 15-yard run — they have also held two of their last five opponents to a long run of under 10 yards.

We are taking the Under 53.5 rushing yards for Williams.

OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE

The Over/Under for the national anthem sung by Demi Lovato sits at two minutes. Over two minutes is the heavy favorite at -200 and the Under two minutes is paying +150. Heading into the 2019 Super Bowl, the average length of the anthem was one minute 55 seconds (n=28).

Last year, the length was set at one minute 45 seconds and Gladys Knight hit the Over, clocking in at two minutes and one second. However, the Under has hit in nine of the last 13 Super Bowls.

One of the most recent versions of Lovato singing the national anthem — McGregor Vs. Mayweather in 2018 — clocks the singer at two minutes 12 seconds in what looks like a visibly nervous performance. The female singer pays +600 if she omits or forgets a word.

We are trusting the juice and leaning on the Over.

LACES OUT

Although Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker has attempted just one field goal so far in the playoffs, he finished the season hitting nearly 90 percent of his FGs, good for a Top-7 finish. Butker was also a perfect 13-for-13 from 40-49 yards and had long of 56 yards.

His kicking opponent, Robbie Gould, finished 28th in FG% (77.8%) but has made all five of his kicks this postseason including a season-high 54-yarder last week. The San Fran veteran is also a perfect 13-for-13 in his nine career playoff games.

The 49ers could make things more difficult for Mahomes in the red zone while Kansas City’s red zone defense was the 8th-best unit in the league, allowing a TD in 51 percent of its opponents’ RZ possessions.

We like the Over 3.5 field goals at -115 or if you prefer one kick over the other, both kickers’ totals sits at 7.5 with the Over paying -130.

Why Brady, Patriots were greatest bet in sports history

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“A dream run for the public, and a nightmare for the books.”

That’s how MGM Resorts sportsbooks’ Jeff Stoneback described the first 10 weeks of NFL betting during the 2007 season. Specifically, that’s how Stoneback described Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. As NFL betting trends go, that stretch was a microcosm of Brady’s two decades under center for the Patriots.

New England went 10-0 SU, 9-1 ATS and 8-2 to the Over in those 10 games, and bookmakers took a bath due to the tsunami of NFL public betting on the Pats.

“The Patriots were very popular right off the bat,” Stoneback said, reminding that Randy Moss joined New England that year. “With that start, they got much more popular. We couldn’t make the line or the total high enough. The public was betting the Patriots blindly, and the Patriots were covering easily.”

Indeed, the Pats cashed in the first eight games, and nine of those first 10 victories were by 17 points or more. Favorite and Over – a public bettor’s delight but never a good combination behind the counter – was almost unstoppable.

In fact, MGM books took an unprecedented step, solely for Patriots games, to stem that flood of public cash.

“About halfway through that run, we stopped offering the parlay of favorite and Over,” Stoneback said. “We were getting drilled on it, but we couldn’t really keep it off the board. So we went to a four-way prop bet instead.”

The proposition allowed bettors to take either Patriots and Over, Patriots and Under, underdog and Over or underdog and Under – New England was favored in every game, often by double digits. The prop bet paid out Patriots and Over at slightly shorter odds than the 13/5 of a standard two-team parlay, while welcoming underdog/Under wagers that paid 14/5 or even 3/1.

“That helped us out, because it drew some sharp money on dog and Under. You were getting a higher payout on that,” Stoneback said. “That run forced us to change the way we booked the game. We’ve never done that any other time, in my 34 years in the industry.

“We had to come up with a way to get money on the other side.”

Tom Brady's Patriots jersey hangs in his locker

That refrain was sung many times over Brady’s 19 years as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. On March 20, Brady took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaving behind not only a bundle of championships and MVP awards, but a stunning NFL betting legacy.

Brady became the starter in Week 3 of the 2001-02 season, replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe, and went a whopping 249-75 SU (76.85 percent) and an impressive 186-129-9 against the NFL pointspreads (59.04 percent).

Over a near two-decade stretch, New England covered the spread just a tick below 60 percent of the time with Brady taking snaps.

Even the smartest and savviest sports bettors can only hope for a season-long winning percentage of 55, 56 or maybe 57 percent against NFL spreads – the tightest and sharpest odds on the board every week – but to sustain that ATS success over 19 years is nearly impossible.

But, if you blindly bet $100 on Brady, Bill Belichick & Co. to cover every week since that 2001 Week 3 matchup – with the fresh-faced QB out of Michigan taking on the Indianapolis Colts – you’d be up roughly $4,000 (given the flat -110 juice per spread bet).

Hot streak and hot seasons

It wasn’t just the Patriots’ steady stream of overall pointspread victories. It was the red-hot streaks – during that 2007 season, for example – and in several cases, full seasons that made life dreadful for oddsmakers and delightful for Pats backers.

From the get-go, Brady was a spread-covering machine, going 14-3 SU and 13-3-1 ATS in the 2001-02 season, stepping in after Bledsoe suffered a season-ending chest injury. New England capped that campaign with a 20-17 Super Bowl upset as a 14-point underdog against the St. Louis Rams – one of the biggest stunners in NFL history and perhaps the last time anyone viewed the franchise as an underdog.

The Pats took a step back in 2002-03, going 9-7 SU and 6-10 ATS. Then Brady led New England to another Lombardi Trophy in a 17-2 SU and 14-5 ATS 2003-04 season – a spread-covering rate of 73.7 percent. In fact, the Patriots reached double-digit ATS wins in 12 of Brady’s 19 seasons, and that likely would have been 13 if he’d not missed all but one game in 2008-09 (9-7 ATS) due to a knee injury in suffered in Week 1.

“It’s really hard to have a 20-year run covering at 59 percent. I’m not saying it won’t ever happen again, but those are few and far between,” longtime handicapper Teddy Sevransky said, before noting that even as Brady aged, the pointspread sprees continued. “The back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl appearances at the end, they had incredible pointspread runs in two of those three seasons.”

Indeed, the 2016-17 season, which ended with the miracle 34-28 overtime victory against Atlanta in Super Bowl LI, saw the Patriots post a bookmaker-torturing 16-3 ATS mark (17-2 SU). Within that season-long spread record, New England went 7-1 ATS in its first eight games and 8-0 ATS in its last eight, with a three-game pointspread sweep in the playoffs.

The Pats followed with a 10-1 ATS run at one stretch in 2017-18, a season that ended with the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia.

PATRIOTS RECORD BEHIND BRADY

SEASON WIN/LOSS ATS RECORD
2001-02* 14-3 13-3-1
2002-03 9-7 6-10
2003-04 17-2 14-5
2004-05 17-2 12-6-1
2005-06 11-7 9-9
2006-07 14-5 12-7
2007-08 18-1 10-9
2008-09** 1-0 0-1
2009-10 10-7 7-8-2
2010-11 14-3 10-6-1
2011-12 15-4 10-9
2012-13 13-5 10-7-1
2013-14 13-5 9-9
2014-15 15-4 11-8
2015-16 13-5 8-8-2
2016-17# 14-1 13-2
2017-18 15-4 12-7
2018-19 14-5 12-7
2019-20 12-5 8-8-1

*Brady started 17 games, taking over in Week 3
**Brady injured in Week 1, missed rest of season
#Brady missed first four games due to suspension

Throughout all but Brady’s last season in New England, Jay Rood was behind the counter at MGM Resorts sportsbooks, much of that time as MGM’s vice president of race and sports. Rood, who is now chief risk officer for Bet.Works, marveled at those ATS numbers.

“You’re not likely to see that again, not in a day and age where guys move around so much,” Rood said. “What they were able to accomplish for that period, it just all came together. And with just one centerpiece, too, in Brady. They very rarely had a great running back, wide receiver and tight end all at the same time. They had guys who were definitely castoffs.”

And consistently, the Patriots were a bet-against or no bet for the smart players. Sevransky noted that sharp bettors, himself included, rarely jumped aboard the freight train of success.

“The Patriots, despite being the No. 1 public team for years, were never a wiseguy favorite, especially over the back half of the Brady era,” Sevransky recalls. “The Patriots received markedly little wiseguy support. Their statistical profile was never overwhelming. They’d win the turnover battle, and while the market respected that, it didn’t respect it enough. Every year, the Patriots would win the turnover battle, and the market would say, ‘Well, they’re not gonna win the turnover battle by 15 this year.’

“While the public cleaned up, the wiseguys never did. As big as the bandwagon was for the Patriots, it never got as big as it could have. There was always sharp money willing to step in front of the Patriots.”

Near-perfect season

The 2007-08 campaign was remarkable not only for what the Patriots did over those first 10 weeks, but for what they almost did by season’s end. New England was both the unstoppable object and the immovable force, going 18-0 SU before a stunning 17-14 upset loss to the New York Giants as 12.5-point Super Bowl chalk.

Some bettors might look at New England’s 10-9 ATS record that season and think it was somewhat mediocre. But again, the Pats covered in their first eight games, winning all by 17 points or more. Along with the drastic measure Stoneback described at MGM books, all shops were forced to make huge line adjustments in an effort to slow the New England money. The Patriots were double-digit favorites in their last 10 games, laying 16 points or more five times, including three games as faves of 20.5 or more.

One veteran New England reporter who covered the team that season said he was well aware of the numbers, and that those pointspreads just might have crept into the back of some players’ minds, too.

“I don’t think there was any sort of specific conversation. I have to believe, as dialed in as they were, as locked in as they were, that they weren’t as aware of the outside world,” the reporter said. “But from a subconscious perspective, a Vegas line perspective, I think some of that must have seeped through. I have to imagine the betting line was part of that overall conversation. In a roundabout way, I have to imagine they were aware, at least on some level.”

Longtime Boston sports journalist Christopher Price, who covered the Patriots for 18 of Brady’s 19 seasons as the starter, knows for a fact that the media was aware, experiencing it firsthand. He said that over the course of Brady’s career, the pointspread would get mentioned for certain matchups from time to time, whenever it was particularly large. But that near-history-making year was different.

“In 2007, yes, I recall a lot of chatter. It was a fairly common experience,” he said. “The media would reference the line and talk about it. ‘Can you believe they’re favored against the Eagles by twenty-something points?’ It was all part of the conversation.”

Indeed, in Week 12 against Philadelphia at home, the Patriots went off as 24-point favorites. Bookmakers and bettors were equally astonished.

PATRIOTS 2007-08 SEASON RESULTS

WEEK   OPPONENT SCORE SPREAD ATS
Week 1 at Jets 38-14 -6 W
Week 2 vs. Chargers 38-14 -3.5 W
Week 3 vs. Bills 38-7 -16.5 W
Week 4 at Bengals 34-13 -7.5 W
Week 5 vs. Browns 34-17 -15.5 W
Week 6 at Cowboys 48-27 -5 W
Week 7 at Dolphins 49-28 -15.5 W
Week 8 vs. Redskins 52-7 -15 W
Week 9 at Colts 24-20 -5 L
Week 10 Bye
Week 11 at Bills 56-10 -16 W
Week 12 vs. Eagles 31-28 -24 L
Week 13 at Ravens 27-24 -19 L
Week 14 vs. Steelers 34-13 -10.5 W
Week 15 vs. Jets 20-10 -20.5 L
Week 16 vs. Dolphins 28-7 -22 L
Week 17 at Giants 38-35 -13 L
Divisional Playoffs vs. Jaguars 31-20 -13.5 L
AFC Champ. vs. Chargers 21-12 -14 L
Super Bowl vs. Giants 14-17 -12.5 L

 

“They were -17 in the first half against the Eagles. I said, ‘These numbers are getting ridiculous,’” recalled veteran oddsmaker Chris Andrews, who that season was fortuitously taking a break from behind the counter, partaking in betting, rather than booking. “I caught them on the way up and caught against them on the way down, so I had a really good year, and I had the Giants against the spread in the Super Bowl.”

Sevransky wasn’t quite as fortunate during that near-historic season.

“I didn’t make even a little bit betting on or against New England,” he said. “I bet against them a couple times early, and then I said, ‘I’m just not stepping in front of the Patriots.’ That was a bad strategy to follow during the second half of the season.”

Meanwhile, behind the counter, the MGM odds team made up a little ground when the Patriots went 1-8 ATS in their last nine games. But those first 10 games were a killer.

“In a lot of those games, the Patriots covered and the total went Over,” Rood said, echoing his peer Stoneback’s thoughts. “It’s hard to overcome that.”

Fortunately for Rood and his fellow bookmakers, the Patriots failed to cover in that Week 12 contest against the Eagles. The game was close the whole way, and in fact New England needed a mid-fourth-quarter touchdown to notch a 31-28 victory.

“I remember that 24-point spread,” Rood said. “We got to that point and I thought, ‘This is crazy. We’re still taking about pro football here.’”

AFC Least

Of course, any assessment of the Patriots’ success with Brady under center would be wildly incomplete without noting the division in which he played.

Over the past 19 seasons, New England won 17 AFC East titles, with the Jets claiming the division crown in 2002-03 and the Dolphins taking it in 2008-09, when Brady tore his ACL in the season opener and missed the rest of the year.

Not only did the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills rarely rise up to win the division, they didn’t field wildcard-caliber teams, either. New York made the playoffs six times in the Brady era, but not since the 2010-11 campaign. Miami has just three postseason trips and Buffalo two, with both teams losing on Wildcard Weekend in all those appearances.

“You look at six games a year, the Patriots sure won those division games at a hell of a clip, more than any other team in any other division,” Andrews said. “That’s a big part of it. How many times did they go into the playoffs with a bye? A whole bunch.”

To Andrews’ points, since the AFC East became a four-team division in the 2002-03 season, New England is 85-23 SU in division play, going 6-0 twice, 5-1 nine times and posting a winning record all 18 years. The team owned a 61-43-4 ATS record versus divisional foes in that span, covering 58.6 percent of the time.

The Jets have the second-best SU division record, at a meager 45-63. The weakness of the AFC East helped propel the Patriots to a dozen first-round playoff byes in that span.

PATRIOTS VS. AFC EAST (SINCE 2002 REALIGNMENT)

SEASON WIN/LOSS ATS WIN/LOSS
2002-03 4-2 4-2
2003-04 5-1 5-1
2004-05 5-1 4-2
2005-06 5-1 4-2
2006-07 4-2 3-3
2007-08 6-0 4-2
2008-09* 4-2 4-2
2009-10 4-2 2-4
2010-11 5-1 4-2
2011-12 5-1 4-2
2012-13 6-0 3-2-1
2013-14 4-2 2-4
2014-15 4-2 2-4
2015-16 4-2 2-2-2
2016-17 5-1 4-2
2017-18 5-1 4-2
2018-19 5-1 4-2
2019-20 5-1 2-3-1

*Brady injured in Game 1, missed rest of season.

“The single biggest factor in the Patriots’ success is the failure of their division opponents to rise up,” notes Sevransky. “The No. 1 reason is because the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. None of them ever got their act together. It was like playing with three Bengals in your division.”

View from the press box

Price, currently with BostonGlobe.com, had a unique vantage point for the Brady era. In fact, Price was there the moment Brady took over for Bledsoe against the Jets in Week 2 of the 2001-02 season.

“My first game was when Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe sideways,” Price said of the hit and subsequent injury that propelled Brady to the starting lineup. “I was standing on the platform when the right train came through the station.”

Price remained on that train through the end of the 2018-19 season. He wrote three books on the Patriots over that stretch, including “Drive For Five”, documenting New England’s run to the 2016-17 championship, the fifth of six in the Brady-Belichick era. While the focal point of Price’s work dealt with the Pats’ on-field results, he was certainly aware of the NFL betting impact, as well.

“As long as Brady was playing, as long as he was upright, as long as he had air in his lungs, as Patriots fans and as bettors, you felt you had a chance,” Price said. “He came through more often than not.

“Sixty percent of the time (ATS) is a ridiculous stretch. It’s remarkable. I’ve had friends who are probably casual to semi-serious gamblers, and as writers, we always used to say, ‘When in doubt, write about the quarterback.’ You could extend that through a gambling prism: when in doubt, bet on the Patriots, and as an extension of that, bet on Brady.”

Tom Brady leads the Patriots inside Gillette Stadium

Price had significant access to the players over the past two decades, so he’s seen and heard plenty. Sports betting chatter from the players was uncommon, but there were certainly moments.

“I don’t know if anything ever came up from a sports betting perspective, other than with a few of the more irreverent guys,” Price said, noting the Patriots certainly had a few characters over the years. “I know those guys would make those kinds of roundabout comments, kind of off the record, in casual conversations.”

Price’s perspective allowed him to draw a parallel between how fans received Brady and how public bettors – and perhaps persuadable sharp players – followed the same path. It took time for people to really believe in the sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan.

“It was fascinating, especially in his early years, that there was some reticence to accept him,” Price said. “People used to deride him as a system quarterback, and I’m sure that was the situation with sports bettors, as well. But he managed to win people over with his consistently excellent performance.”

Is Brady the gambling GOAT?

Along with being a handicapper/bettor for decades, Covers Experts’ Marc Lawrence is also an encyclopedia of sports betting statistics. He has an avalanche of Brady stats, breaking down the QBs broader ATS record, which he pegged at 187-127-10 – a tick off of Covers’ official tally of 186-129-9 (based on which closing line was graded).

• Brady was 40-16-2 ATS (71.4 percent) with the Patriots either an underdog or in a pick ‘em game, including 10-1-1 ATS at home and 16-1 ATS following a SU loss.

• Behind Brady, the Pats were 60-14 SU and 50-23-1 ATS in October, a 68.5 percent cover rate. Just bet ‘em blindly every October, and you’d have done just fine.

• Against teams with a better record, Brady was a superb 39-13 SU and 37-11-4 ATS, not only winning on the field at a 75 percent clip but covering the number 77.1 percent of the time.

“That is the stuff GOATS are made of,” Lawrence said, aptly applying the acronym for “Greatest Of All Time.”

Lawrence rightly considers Hall-of-Fame QB Joe Montana in Brady’s stratosphere, as well. But who is at the top of the heap: Tom Terrific or Joe Cool?

Brady’s on-the-field stats dwarf Montana’s, though Lawrence is quick to note the Patriots signal-caller played in an increasingly quarterback-friendly era. That said, Montana’s career quarterback rating of 97.0 rates above Brady’s 92.3.

The overall ATS numbers are also very close, though Montana gets the edge at 115-71, cashing 61.8 percent of the time, compared with 59.5 percent for Lawrence’s Brady mark of 187-127-10 ATS. There were several other similarities, leading Lawrence back to an aforementioned category.

“The one deciding stat that most likely serves as the tiebreaker was how each quarterback performed against opponents that owned the better record,” Lawrence said. “In such games, Brady is 39-13 SU and 37-11-4 ATS. Montana was 21-21 SU and 25-17 ATS. Thus, by the narrowest of noses, Tom Terrific edges out Joe Cool in a photo finish as the NFL’s all-time GOAT. Either way, they are two thoroughbreds who own pedigrees unlike any quarterbacks to ever play in the league.”

Foxborough fables

With New England such a juggernaut during the Brady era, bettors and oddsmakers have tales of wonder and woe aplenty. Sevransky’s memory went straight to one of those rare occasions when he backed Belichick and Brady, in an equally rare spot where the Patriots were an underdog, on November 15, 2009.

“It was against the Colts on Sunday Night Football,” Sevransky recalls. “The Patriots were up 17 (31-14) early in the fourth quarter. I had them +1.”

Indianapolis sandwiched two touchdowns around a New England field goal to pull within 34-28, with 2:23 remaining. All New England needed to close it out was a first down on the ensuing possession. Short of that, the Pats just needed to get off a decent punt, as Indy still needed a touchdown to win.

The Pats did neither, with Belichick opting to go for it on fourth-and-two from his own 28-yard line. The Pats gained a yard, the Colts took over possession, and Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left. The extra point gave Indy a 35-34 victory.

“That was one time that Belichick was a little too cocky. They were up six at the time, they ended up losing by one. I pushed,” Sevransky said.

Tom Brady is approached by the press after a win

Meanwhile, Andrews couldn’t really nail it down to one game, perhaps because he did surprisingly well on both sides of the counter with Brady in the lineup.

“My own personal perspective, I’ve always said I don’t hate Brady and the Patriots nearly as much as I probably should,” Andrews admits, considering that he’s a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan. “The Patriots won a couple games for me when I really needed them to.”

That included the aforementioned Patriots upset of the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, when Andrews was an oddsmaker at Cal-Neva in Reno, and his 2007-08 stint betting on the Pats early and against them late. Over the past few years, as sportsbook director at the South Point in Vegas, Andrews was served well by a couple of key Patriots outcomes.

“They lost to Philly, which ended up being a really good Super Bowl (LII) for us, and they beat Atlanta (Super Bowl LI), which also ended up being really good for us,” Andrews said. “If you go down through history, they beat the hell out of us, generally. But I happened to be on the right side of them for a lot of big and memorable games.”

Rood also noted the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl, though New England’s infamous comeback from a 28-3 deficit to a 34-28 overtime win was actually good for the book.

“At that point, we luckily didn’t have mobile betting going in full swing, so there was not as much in-play liability. It looked like in the second quarter, we’d be a stone-cold loser,” Rood remembers.

It was one of those very rare situations that Rood was rooting for the Patriots, who were 3-point favorites in that memorable championship tilt. More often than not, Rood and his sportsbook contemporaries needed whomever was playing New England, week after week, year after year, for 19 seasons.

Passing the Bucs

It’s a whole new betting ballgame now for the Patriots, Brady and the Buccaneers. Even with Belichick as coach, it’s hard to believe New England’s ATS consistency continues, but perhaps it does. Perhaps the Bucs become a much better bet than last year, when they went 7-9 SU and a meager 5-9-2 ATS.

Bettors certainly responded over these past couple of weeks. PointsBet USA’s trading team said Tampa Bay had 50/1 odd to win the Super Bowl, tightened to 16/1 after the Brady news broke, and are now at 17/1. The Bucs represent 11 percent of the total ticket count and are PointsBet’s largest Super Bowl liability.

Further, the Buccaneers are the +130 second choice to win the NFC South, behind the even-money Saints, but Tampa leads the division with 41 percent of tickets written.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are +120 co-favorites with Buffalo to win the AFC East, but are getting just 4 percent of tickets, while the Bills are drawing 44 percent of wagers. And generally speaking, the Bucs have been a popular public bet in all facets over the past two weeks at PointsBet, while the Patriots’ popularity has waned with the public.

“I’m gonna be fascinated to see what it’s like going forward for the Patriots as a franchise,” Price said. “In my mind, the easiest bet to make every year is on the Patriots to go over their win total. I’m interested to see how the relationship is between the sports betting community and the Patriots going forward.

“What’s the new reality? Are bettors going to be cautious with a team going through a transition period? Are people going to have the same faith in Belichick, without Brady? Can gamblers feel the same way about the Patriots without Brady, but still with Belichick and some defensive game-changers such as Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Dont’a Hightower?”

That’s a lot of questions. But PointsBet USA also noted some interesting action landing on the Patriots. After Brady’s decision, New England’s season win total dropped from 10.5 to 8.5 – immediately drawing sharp money on the Over and moving the total to 9. PointsBet’s trading team pointed out that the Pats have won less than nine games just once under Belichick, going 5-11 SU in his first season of 2000-01, which happened to be Brady’s rookie season playing behind Bledsoe.

Buccaneers billboard celebrating the signing of Tom Brady

Price sees some uncertainty around a 43-year-old Brady, as well, even with a solid receiving corps and an offensive-minded coach in Bruce Arians.

“The question is: Can Brady be the guy to push the Bucs over the top, from a sports betting perspective?” Price said.

When one delves into last season’s results, the answer could certainly be yes. Six of the Buccaneers’ ATS losses came in one-score games, including two in overtime and four with spreads ranging from Bucs +3 to -1. Tampa Bay also had two pushes, as a 3-point pup and a 3-point favorite.

Also not to be overlooked, Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions for Tampa Bay to go with 33 touchdowns last year. Brady had 24 TD passes and eight interceptions for the Patriots, and his 29 picks thrown over the past four seasons still doesn’t reach Winston’s bloated 2019 INT total.

“It would seem to suggest, when you look at the offensive side of the ball, that someone like Brady could do that,” Price said of Brady’s potential to make the Bucs a more successful wager. “From a sports betting perspective, I don’t think Brady will ever reach the same heights that he hit in New England. But if he’s worth 2.5 points per game, the Buccaneers will go a long way toward becoming an attractive team for gamblers, based on what they did last year.”

Indeed, adding 2.5 points per game last year would’ve given the Bucs at least 10 ATS wins, and potentially two more if they’d avoided overtime. As Price said, time will tell if Brady becomes a sports betting bonanza for Bucs backers.

Unquestionably, Brady has been a sports betting bonanza for the ages, as he enters the twilight of his career. Pundits, bettors and bookmakers are unlikely to see such greatness again

“I don’t see the ability to have an owner (Robert Kraft), a coach and a player with those kinds of commitments,” Rood said. “If it happens again, it’ll have to be because of having a similar organizational influence over everyone, from top to bottom. That’s the thing the Patriots were able to do, get buy-in, but more than that, buy-in with the right coach and right players.

“It will happen year-to-year, but to sustain it for 19 years is pretty incredible.”

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas. 

Odds to win the 2020 NFL MVP: QBs dominate as betting favorites

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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, fresh off a Super Bowl title and only 14 months after being named the 2018 NFL MVP, is the current betting favorite for the 2020 NFL MVP award. Just behind him on the odds board are fellow QBs Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson.

Jackson won the 2019 NFL MVP award after throwing for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns, while piling up another 1206 yards and seven scores on the ground for the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens.

Wilson has been putting the Seattle Seahawks’ offense on his back for the last few seasons. He threw for 4,110 yards and 31 TDs against just 5 interceptions despite facing constant pressure behind a pathetic Seahawks offensive line in 2019.

Of the last 13 NFL MVPs, 12 have been handed out to quarterbacks, so it’s little surprise that the earliest you see a non-QB on this list is Titans running back Derrick Henry at +4,400.

No wide receiver has ever won MVP while the last defensive player to take home the hardware was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Rams DT Aaron Donald has the best odds of any defensive player at +10,000, while last year’s NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas is the top WR bet at a whopping +15,000.

Here are the current odds to win the 2020 NFL MVP:

ODDS TO WIN NFL MVP

Player Odds to win (as of March 30)
Patrick Mahomes +380
Lamar Jackson +600
Russell Wilson +600
Deshaun Watson +1,200
Dak Prescott +1,400
Carson Wentz +1,600
Drew Brees +1,600
Aaron Rodgers +2,000
Jimmy Garoppolo +2,600
Kyler Murray +2,600
Tom Brady +2,600
Baker Mayfield +3,200
Ben Roethlisberger +3,500
Matt Ryan +3,800
Derrick Henry +4,400
Kirk Cousins +4,400
Matthew Stafford +4,400
Christian McAffrey +5,000
Josh Allen +5,000
Jared Goff +5,000

HOW TO BET FUTURES ODDS

Futures betting is different than betting on an individual game because you need to consider the long haul as opposed to a single event. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when betting futures odds.

Change your strategy at different points in the season

While some futures bets must be placed before the season begins and are then removed off the board (such as team win totals), other wagers will change odds as the season goes on.

If you are wagering money on a futures bet with changing odds keep in mind that there is less variance at the beginning of the season (when more players and teams are still in contention) and more variance as the season goes on (when teams and players at the top separate themselves from those at the bottom).

In the preseason and beginning of the season, betting on dark horses can prove very profitable. But as the season continues, expect to see odds tighten around the favorites. At that point it becomes wise to focus on the players near the top of the odds board and betting big underdogs is practically like giving your money away.

Look for value with underdogs

While the bigger names tend to be strong favorites, there are also live long shots that can provide tremendous value. Look at younger players on the verge of breaking out, or guys that have already been playing at a high level but could take the next step now that they are in an ideal situation with a new team, coach or system.

Other players that can give a great payout are established stars coming off under-performing seasons due to injuries or other factors. If you’re lucky you might be able to catch them in a bounce-back year.

Follow the narrative

When placing futures bets on individual awards, keep in mind that voters, not a scoreboard are often the deciding factor. Voters can be influenced by a variety of factors, including media coverage and public opinion. Consider what the media narrative is for a particular season and which players they seem to be rooting for and against.

For example in Lebron James’ first season in Miami he was viewed as a villain or heel by the media and Derrick Rose who ended up winning MVP was the perfect foil for that. When Ron Dayne won the Heisman trophy back in 1999 it was viewed by many as a well-deserved reward for his entire career at Wisconsin.

Research historical trends

Historical trends, especially recent ones, can give you a good idea of which way voters tend to lean.

The NBA MVP for example, almost always goes to a player on the best or second-best regular season team in the league. While the NFL MVP has been handed out to a quarterback in 12 of the last 13 seasons.

Identifying those trends is a good way to separate the true contenders from the pretenders.