Staff Note: It's that time!! The Betting Predators team is here to help you hunt down the best bets for "The Big Game" on Sunday, with Super Bowl LV prop picks and breakdowns from none other than Dave Essler, Tommy "The Hitman", Sleepy, Mackenzie Rivers, Chris Dell, Dan Rivera, Smoove and a special guest feature from Steve Rieder of Avoid The Vig. Stay tuned to our website and podcast feed all week, as we will be dropping numerous Super Bowl LV articles and podcast episodes leading up to kickoff on Sunday.
Dave Essler: Rob Gronkowski anytime TD (FanDuel +230)
This guy has largely been forgotten, and that's magnified by Cameron Brate's TD in the conference champion game. However, if and when the Bucs are in a goal-to-go situation, I believe we know who Tom Brady trusts, and I expect him to go directly to his comfort zone with Rob Gronkowski. The two have teamed up for 93 scores, second only to Peyton Manning/Marvin Harrison, and it could be somewhat telling in that Brate's odds to score a touchdown is +260. Honestly, taking them both is not the worst option here, knowing that if a Bucs TE scores, we make money. The Chiefs were 14th in the league in TE targets, yet 5th in yards allowed to TE's and 6th in fantasy points allowed, so they're certainly vulnerable. I'd also expect Tyrann Mathieu to be helping more on the outside, leaving one or both of these TE's in single coverage. And if he does blitz, then here's nobody better at finding the vacated area than TB12.
The Hitman: Chiefs Under 3.5 punts (South Point -160/DraftKings -200)
The Kansas City Chiefs have punted more than three times in just one of seven Patrick Mahomes playoff games. They have also punted just once this entire postseason - and that was after a Tyreek Hill dropped deep pass. This is a different, more efficient - and even more aggressive Chiefs offense - in this year's playoffs and the numbers reflect that. You can find this under team prop at either South Point or DK.
Sleepy J: Travis Kelce to score a touchdown (BetMGM -165)
We have to pay some juice on this one, but shop around and see it you get this closer to -150 than the current consensus line of -175. Travis Kelce has been a monster with Patrick Mahomes over the Kansas City Chiefs' last eight games. Kelce now has scored a touchdown in seven of those last eight games and also has eight or more catches in 10 straight games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense against TE's isn't very good either, as they've allowed four or more catches to at least one opposing TE in nine straight games, and that was against some teams with mediocre TE's at best. I believe that Kelce eats here in this rematch of Week 12 where he posted 8-82, and that he finds the end zone for a score this time around.
Mackenzie Rivers: Mahomes Over 325.5 Pass Yds OR Mahomes More Pass Yds than Brady (-155/-165)
In my mind, there are two plausible game scripts for Super Bowl 55. In one of these, I believe I am a slight dog with my bet of Patrick Mahomes Over 325 passing yards. That is if the Kansas City Chiefs run away with it. If they are nursing a 14 point lead in the second half that may or may not extend, then I don’t love my position here. In the other scenario - the more likely scenario, in my opinion - I believe I have a 75-80% play. That scenario is if the game is competitive. For Pregame.com, I looked into all “competitive” Chiefs games - defined either by being a playoff contest or a regular season game where Kansas City was not favored by 6 or more - There were 25 of those games since Mahomes became a starter in 2018. Then I isolated only the quarters in which the game was competitive, i.e. the Chiefs not up by 21 after the first quarter. Turns out, since he became a starter, the great Patrick Mahomes has averaged 370 passing yards per four “competitive” quarters (i.e. per a pro-rated full “competitive” game). That’s 70 yards more than his regular game average over that span (306). So why do I think this game will stay competitive? Because I believe in the great Tom Brady. And while I do not expect that he will knock out one of the great teams we have ever seen assembled, I do like Brady’s chances to make them sweat it. In doing so, I look for Brady being able to force Mahomes, Andy Reid & Company to unleash everything in their arsenal on Sunday.
Chris Dell: Cameron Brate Over 2.5 receptions (FanDuel -154)
Over the last six weeks we've seen Cameron Brate either usurp or match the veteran Rob Gronkowski in nearly every statistically relevant category. The 29-year old tight end and seven-year veteran out of Harvard has posted 18 catches for 241 yards on 24 targets and 113 routes run during that span. Gronk, on the other hand, has just nine catches for 159 yards on 20 targets and 135 routes run. Brate is simply out-performing his future hall-of-fame teammate, and he has subsequently earned the all-important trust of TB12 in the process. Shorten the sample size to three games and only the playoffs, and we see an even larger story being told here: Brate (16 targets, 11 catches, 149 yards) and Gronk (7 targets, 2 catches, 43 yards) aren't even close. Brate has more than double the targets, more than five times the receptions and more than three times the yardage on a similar amount of routes run. The Kansas City Chiefs have ranked near the bottom of the league in defending tight ends all year, and most recently they've given up gobs of receiving production to the likes of Dawson Knox (8-6-42-1), David Njoku (5-4-49), Donald Parham (4-3-37-1), Stephen Anderson (3-3-52) and Hayden Hurst (6-5-47-1). The Chiefs have had just one game since Week 12 in which they've allowed less than three catches to an opposing tight end. Even back in Week 12 they gave up a ridiculous 7-6-106 to Gronk and another 6-4-34 to Brate before Brate had even begun to establish a more prominent role in Tampa Bay's offense. I don't hate plays on the overs (receptions and yards) for both Bucs tight ends in this game, but this number stands out the most as being incorrect, given the recent usage and the plus matchup. If you can find a flat number of 3, even better.
Dan Rivera: Cameron Brate First Reception Over 7.5 yards (BetMGM -125)
This number is simply too low. Cameron Brate has an aDOT of 8.5 for the regular season season and in the regular season he averaged 10.1 yards per reception. In the playoffs so far he has averaged 13.5 yards per reception. The only thing that might concern me here is that Brate, against the Saints and Packers, his first receptions were for just 5 yards. But his first reception went for 19 yards in the Wild Card Round game against the Washington Football Team. During the regular season, Brate's first reception over his last six games went for 11, 11, 14, 9, 6, and 7 - which makes 7.5 is about a yard too low on average here.
Smoove: Tom Brady Over 39.5 pass attempts AND Over 295.5 Yards (DraftKings -112)
When Tom Brady made the move from New England to Tampa Bay, we knew it would be a work in progress, especially under the abnormal circumstances this season brought with COVID-19. Some games he would throw for close to 300 yards - and others he barely threw for 220 - while he tried to adapt to a new system and players under Bruce Arians while still playing to his strengths. Coming out of the bye week, Brady seemed to find his stride in the passing game as he threw for 330+ yards in three of the last four weeks. Brady also faced the Kansas City Chiefs during the regular season and threw the ball more than 40 times while throwing for more than 300 yards. Brady has also faced 5 out of 7 average to below average passing defenses (about where the Chiefs rank) this season, and he has averaged 39.4 pass attempts for 290.6 yards per game through the air in those games. Both of those averages fall just short of the prop numbers here, but Brady is unique because of his Super Bowl history. He has played in the big game nine times and has proven to perform at his best in the biggest of games. Brady has won six out of nine total Super Bowl games and on his way to those wins he has averaged 43.5 passing attempts and 315 yards per game. Based on his past performances in the Super Bowl, I believe there’s value in playing both of these numbers to the over. I would also consider the fact that everything will be left out on the field from both teams here, and Brady knows from experience that playing against Patrick Mahomes means he has to continue to stay aggressive in order to capture his seven total Super Bowl victory.
Tom Brady and his ballyhooed 43 year-old arm (that somehow gets older, but doesn't age) has been the talk of the postseason and perhaps the main catalyst for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' success. However, it's his legs that I'm looking to exploit this Super Bowl Sunday. Since taking his talents to Tampa Bay, TB12 was unable to gain a single rushing yard in 14 of his19 games. Including his Patriots tenure, in Brady's last three postseasons when the stakes were the highest, he only eclipsed the Mendoza line of 0.5 in six of seven tries. A familiar Super Bowl foe - Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnolo - loves to dial up the blitzes and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Brady doesn't have the escapability to take advantage of the situation on the ground, however, and he will be forced to get the ball out quickly through the air. With the public undoubtedly looking to bet his over, I will wait to bet this under just before kickoff.