We have arrived. Super Bowl LV will take place this Sunday, as the Kansas City Chiefs attempt to defend their title against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If for whatever reason you don't think this was the best possible matchup we could ask for, consider this: Patrick Mahomes lost just one start this season back in Week 5 to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Brady has won seven games in a row to get to this point, last losing to the Chiefs. Not just that, but the Buccaneers won three straight playoff games on the road to get back to the big game. When these teams met in Week 12, even "Romostradamus" had a feeling that we were watching a preview of the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs left Tampa with a 27-24 victory over the Buccaneers back in November, and it was in large part because of Tyreek Hill. The speedy Pro Bowl wideout caught 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns, as Tampa Bay's secondary could seemingly do nothing to stop him. This isn't the same Buccaneers team, however, as the defense has noticeably improved since then. So, which team should you place money on this Sunday? That's what we are here to answer.
Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.
The favorite in the past two Super Bowls has gone on to win by double digits. In 2019, Brady defeated the Los Angeles Rams by 10 points as a 2.5-point favorite, and last year, Mahomes took down the San Francisco 49ers by 11 points as a 1.5-point favorite. But could that be a trend that ends this week? Despite Hill's dominant game in Week 12, the Chiefs did not cover the 3.5-point spread. In fact, every time Brady and Mahomes have faced off, the underdog has covered the spread.
Below, we will break down this game from a gambling perspective, and give you all the stats to know in an attempt to get the upper hand on Vegas. Let's jump in.
All NFL odds are via William Hill Sportsbook.
Buccaneers at Chiefs
Since the playoffs expanded in 1978, the Buccaneers are the fifth No. 5 seed or worse to make the Super Bowl. The past three teams were able to win. The Bucs' biggest strength has to be their quarterback, who is the best of all time and still elite at age 43. Brady is starting in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday, but he is 4-5 against the spread. That's not really a stat you should be too worried about, however, especially when you consider how bad the Chiefs have been as a team to bet on recently.
The Chiefs are the second team to make the Super Bowl after covering just two of their previous 10 games. They are 8-10 on the season, which is tied for the second-worst cover percentage entering the Super Bowl. Despite being mediocre when it comes to covering the spread, the fact is that Mahomes has won 25 of his past 26 starts and is 6-1 in the postseason. His only loss came to Brady in the 2018 AFC Championship Game, when the contest went to overtime and Mahomes never got a chance to take the field in the extra period.
In terms of my opinion on the spread, I can't say I feel comfortable either way. I am going to take the Chiefs on the moneyline at -165, and if I'm taking a side on the spread, the lean is most definitely to the Chiefs at -3. The deciding factor in my opinion is how explosive this Chiefs offense can be and the kind of weapons Mahomes has to work with. I don't think Hill is going to explode for 269 receiving yards again, but I do think he has a good game and has a chance at Super Bowl MVP. In the Chiefs' divisional round matchup against the Cleveland Browns, he caught eight passes for 110 yards, and then exploded for 172 yards on nine catches in the conference championship game against the Buffalo Bills. His 172 receiving yards were the most in a playoff game in Chiefs history, and it marked his third straight postseason game with over 100 receiving yards. Then there's Travis Kelce, who is one of the best tight ends in the game and has been playing great ball as of late, too. Hill and Kelce just became the first duo to have two games of 100-plus receiving yards in a single postseason. Even if the Buccaneers do somewhat contain Hill and Kelce, there are other home-run hitters in this offense like Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins, who could break off a big play.
Another reason I'm picking the Chiefs is because I'm high on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He's been banged up and was used sparingly in the AFC title game, but is finally back to being a full participant in practice after dealing with ankle and hip injuries. Remember how big of a role he played in the Chiefs' offense early in the season? You have to wonder if Andy Reid will give him some touches on the ground and through the air to shake some things up, and how much it could help the Chiefs.
The over/under has dropped a full point from the 57 points it opened at. Both of these offenses have the potential to put up points in a hurry, but I'm not so sure that will happen come Sunday. Interestingly enough, the total was also 56 points the first time these teams met, yet they combined for just 51 points. Six of the past seven Super Bowls with a total of 50-plus points have stayed under dating to 2001, and with bad weather in the forecast, it's hard for me not to lean toward the under.
Final score: Chiefs 28-24