Today’s Super Bowl offers compelling reasons to like either side. But, while the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers can both be logically and passionately defended as today’s winner, I suggest after the game the team that does win is going to look obvious and the losing team seem as if they really never had a chance.
The selection of this game begins with two viable sides, but in the end, one will win 100% of Super Bowl LV and the other will be a 100% loser.
First, before getting into the Qoxhi Super Bowl selection between the Chiefs and Buccaneers, I reiterate that I think the best play of the day is the total, taking that proposition under the posted 56 points. The reason for landing on an under in this game is based on what units I think will have their performances spiked by motivation.
In many games one team will have a motivational edge over their opponent, but this year, not unlike the Super Bowl two years ago between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, the defenses on both sides will have the eye of the tiger.
In 2018, the NFL had just concluded their second highest scoring regular season in history and the Super Bowl had a point spread total number that reflected that fact. The opening over/under line was set at 58, and while the public lined up on the over play the number moved down to a closing line of 55½. This year, the NFL just completed their highest scoring season ever, eclipsing the old record set in 2013 by more than 700 points, 12,692 to 11,685. Before Super Bowl LIII, the talk was of offense and the battle between two of the highest scoring teams … and the Super Bowl ended in the lowest scoring Roman Numeral game ever, 13-3.
This year, the talk since this matchup was determined two weeks ago has been all about Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Which not only gives a motivational edge to the defenses, but also both offenses have had recent problems with their offensive lines. While more than 73% of all the wagers on the total in this game are on the over, the line has dropped from an opening number of 57½ points to the current 56.
In addition to the under play today, we have a side that we’ve landed on after much debate.
Ultimately, we landed on the side of the team with the better defense in terms of both yards and points allowed. The team that had more sacks of opposing quarterbacks and a better turnover ratio. The team that scored more points during the regular season and allowed fewer.
We get all those statistical edges with the underdog Buccaneers.
What the Chiefs have on their side is a better record in the regular season, 14 wins to 11, and a team led by a quarterback already achieving greatness and with the promise of someday replacing the man he faces today as the best of all time.
An argument in favor of the Chiefs can contend that today’s game is going to look like the fight between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, one in which the proud champion in his declining years was no match for his young and powerful opponent. It was a fight in which Holmes actually backed off his offensive in response to his domination and in an effort to not severely injure Ali.
Now, in football terms, that backing off is near the end of the game when an opponent can kneel down with the ball to run out the remaining time on the clock with victory assured. If Mahomes gets that opportunity today, and he is ahead at the time by more than a field goal, then the prize will go to the defending champs.
But, Brady has not looked old this season, and his play during the year has gotten sharper in his communication between him and his new teammates. The Buccaneers looked ragged in their season opening loss to the New Orleans Saints, but in their three road postseason triumphs, Brady has been running a well oiled machine that mirrors his longtime success in New England.
Like so many bettors today, I can see the Chiefs winning this game. In fact, I wish my numbers supported taking them with Mahomes and company. But I made that mistake once in my life, and not since in a Super Bowl. In the final game of the 2004 season I did the same kind of exhaustive work I did on today’s Super Bowl, and all my work resulted in what I considered a very competitive game but a slight lean to the Philadelphia Eagles plus the touchdown on the point spread over the defending champion Patriots led by Brady.
Despite all my work, because it was close, and because I wanted to have Brady in the Super Bowl over Andy Reid and his Eagles, I took the Patriots and laid the touchdown. Bad idea, and after the Eagles lost the game but beat the point spread I felt sick. Worse than just losing, I had lost when I should have won.
Same thing today.
I want the Chiefs, like the Chiefs, but am not surrendering to wants over the business of making money from point spread results. For all the right reasons, we will ride with the old quarterback not as sure we are going to win as much as certain we are making the right play.
Qoxhi Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over New England Patriots