When the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54 in Miami on Sunday night, two of the most efficient offenses in the NFL will be on the field. Both teams have shown they can score with ruthless efficiency, even if they do so in different ways.
But will both teams score more than about 53.5 points is the question on the minds of everyone in the sports wagering community this weekend. As of this morning, at DraftKings sportsbook 76% of the bets and 72% of the money wagered was on the over, meaning it’s a big liability across sports books if this game gets to that big number. The number opened at 53, went all the way up to 54.5, but has come back down to 53.5... for now.
By DVOA from Football Outsiders, the Chiefs were the third-most efficient offense in the NFL this season, and when you factor in a multi-week injury to quarterback Patrick Mahomes that’s even more impressive. They put up 51 points on the Texans and 35 on the ball-control-and-defense Titans in the playoffs. They can score with anyone.
But the San Francisco defense might be the antidote to the much-ballyhooed charges of Andy Reid. They ranked second in Defensive DVOA during the regular season, and perhaps most importantly were also #2 against the pass. They allowed just 25.5 yards per drive, and 1.65 points per opponent possession, good for second and fourth respectively during the regular season.
Because so much of what the Chiefs do is based on throwing the ball to athletes like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the 49ers are possibly more in position to get off the field than any of KC’s previous playoff opponents, both of whom were in the bottom half defensively.
On the other side of the ball, no one has finished drives more efficiently than the 49ers this season. Their 27-10 win over Minnesota in the divisional round and 37-20 romp of the Packers for the NFC Championship were never in doubt, and done with a run-heavy offense that forced teams to allow man coverage on the outside off play-action. It’s pretty simple and a throwback to NFL days of yore, and it’s working so far in 2020.
San Francisco’s 2.47 yards per drive was 5th in the NFL this season, and that number has increased during the playoffs. But they’re facing a KC defense that can be vulnerable: they allow 34.84 yards per drive (25th) and 1.85 points per possession (12th). The San Francisco offense isn’t as good as KC with Mahomes... but they might have an easier time scoring due to who they’re lining up against.
The big, understated number here might be the Chiefs being 29th against the run by DVOA rushing defense: if the Niners can get chunks and keep the chains moving with Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, this might turn into a big number early.
With the coming down from 54.5 to 53.5 as we write this, the chances of the biggest shootout in Miami since the filming of Scarface are still on the table. By the in-depth numbers, we could be looking at 40+ points needed to win this game, and that would certainly favor all the over bettors, of which there are many this weekend.
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