Super Bowl 55 features two of the NFL’s most prolific offenses. The Kansas City Chiefs scored 29.6 points a game during the regular season, sixth-best. On average, every time they get the ball, it’s worth nearly three points. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored at an even higher rate this season, 30.8 points per game, third-best in the NFL. So the point total for this game, set at 56, looks like an easy bet for the over.
Not so fast.
While it’s easy to look at those two offenses and think that this is an instant shootout, you also have to remember that both of these teams also play defense. And while nobody is going to confuse either unit for the 1985 Bears, they did manage to get this far.
There are a few factors at play here why the under is probably the best bet for point total in Super Bowl 55.
The Buccaneers blitz with considerable frequency. While more often than not Patrick Mahomes has the answer to beating pressure, he’s going to be without both of his starting tackles for this game. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been on IR with a back injury for a while now. They lost left tackle Eric Fisher with an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship game. Sure, the quick throws are Mahomes’ secret to beating pressure, the loss of both tackles is going to change the dynamic.
Tampa Bay is going to have to run the ball a lot. Not only is that a weak spot in the Chiefs defense, it’s a way to keep Mahomes and Co. off the field. Another benefit is that it can keep them out of third-and-long situations, where Tom Brady’s success rate drops off this season.
Finally, let’s not overlook precedent. The combined point total for all of the previous 54 Super Bowls has exceeded 56 points just 11 times. Teams typically start slowly in this game. Only three of the last 18 Super Bowls had more than 10 points in the first quarter. Last year’s game had exactly 10 points, seven for the Chiefs, who went on to win, and three for the 49ers.
We should be in for a great game, but don’t assume that it’s automatically going to be a high-scoring one.
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