Brad is back with two bets for the big one – Super Bowl LIV
Welcome back to the last column of the year friends. We went 2-0 in the championship round and are +1.03 units for the season. Onto the biggie and lets cut straight to the point.
I don’t think the Chiefs will be able to block this Niners front.
You won’t necessarily see it in the numbers.
The Chiefs O-line is 5th best in Football Outsider’s adjusted sack rate allowed and 5th best in PFF’s pass block metrics. However, a lot of that is the scheme – which uses misdirection, fakes and screens to slow rushers down.
San Fran, however, has the 2nd best DVOA in the NFL vs short passes (including screens) thanks to super-fast linebackers who flow to the ball.
If screens are not as effective, these tackles and guards are going to have to block these pass rushers straight up.
Let’s go to O-line expert Brandon Thorn to find out whether they can do it: “In a vacuum Kansas City’s OL is outmatched across the board minus right tackle Mitchell Schwartz,” he says.
The left side of the line is in particular trouble. Back to Thorn: “Joey Bosa’s matchup vs. LT Eric Fisher is the biggest mismatch of the entire Super Bowl in the trenches…. Inside of Fisher is Stefan Wisniewski who took over in Week 15 and has admirably played 97% of the snaps since, but will have to block one of the rarer physical specimens in the league in DT DeForest Buckner. Buckner is an enormous mismatch for Wisniewski due to his length, power, and vaunted club-swim move that leaves blockers routinely grasping at air.”
I also buy into the idea that a fearsome four-man rush is extra important in the Super Bowl as they are fresh and fired up. You watch the first half of these games, and the intensity is just a different level, which of course favours the defender.
Is it a coincidence that in the last 15 years, six teams have entered the Super Bowl with at least 55 sacks, and all six have won the game?
Think of the 2013 Seahawks, the 2015 Broncos, or the 07 Giants. The 49ers have 57 sacks on the season for what it’s worth.
The Chiefs OL has indeed looked very solid in recent weeks, including the playoffs, but remember:
- They were at home which helps offensive linemen
- They were facing the 22nd and 28th ranked pass rush (per PFF).
The Titans were even getting pressure in the first half with 3 or 4-man rushes, but that dried up in the second half as they tired.
The Niners meanwhile are off two weeks rest rather than in their fourth consecutive road game, and I expect that pressure to keep coming.
Now, I am sticking to the first half for this bet because frankly, a healthy Pat Mahomes with a full complement of weapons has pretty much never been stopped.
The scheme is too slick, the receivers are too fast and Mahomes is so good that you can’t keep them out *if* they can protect. In games this year against top 12 pass rushes, Mahomes’ YPA drops to 7.8, compared to 8.7 vs non-top-12 teams.
I am very confident the pass rush can win in the first half, but I am less sure about the second half after a 45-minute break and the adrenaline has worn off some.
Because if the Chiefs can protect, then Tyreek and Mecole Hardman will be too fast for Sherman and Co. The only real weakness of this SF D is being attacked deep where they are 12th in DVOA rather than elite.
If you see the pass rush starts to tire in the second half, I wouldn’t be averse to some live Chief bets.
Remember Mahomes has never lost an NFL game by more than seven.
We should probably discuss the other side of the ball quick.
I don’t think the Niners will have trouble scoring.
Shanahan has shown a tendency to play to his opponent. I.e. if he’s an underdog he’ll pull out all the stops.
He knew his team were flat out better than Minnesota and Green Bay so he was content to run the ball for 6 yards a carry.
In this one, he knows he’ll need 30+ points, and I expect a gameplan like we saw in New Orleans with the full box of tricks on display. This is generally an underrated offense (4th in PFF grade), and with a mindset of all-out attack, I like them to go over their team total.
"Jimmy Garoppolo is a game manager."
84.0 QBR in 4th quarter and game within 1 possession (best in NFL)
115.7 passer rating with team trailing (best in NFL)
60% Comp pct on throws 15+ yards downfield (best in NFL)
154.0 passer rating outside pocket (best in recorded history)
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) January 28, 2020
Super Bowl Bets
- San Francisco 1H +0.5: 3 units @ 1.86
- San Francisco over 26.5 points: 1 unit @ 1.91