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Handicapping the Super Bowl Favorites in 2020By Kurt Boyer
It’s time to handicap Super Bowl competitors for the big date at Hard Rock Stadium. Scroll down for a preview and a look at early gambling lines on Super Bowl 54, or read ahead for a tutorial on handicapping Super Bowl odds through the months of December and January.
Betting odds can be compared to stock-market prices. The “stock” of a potential Super Bowl team can rise and fall at the sportsbook as odds change to reflect the team’s fortunes on the field.
Sportsbook odds on a Super Bowl contender don’t necessarily change just because a team wins or loses games, though. Betting action determines how “long” or “short” a team’s Super Bowl odds (or odds to reach the Super Bowl) as bookmakers adjust the numbers to encourage balanced action. In turn, the gambling action on each NFL club’s odds can be influenced by all sorts of external factors.
That’s where handicappers come in handy. The best Super Bowl ‘cappers won’t tell you to bet a bundle on every likely outcome, or boast “9 out of 10 winners!” like so many charlatans on social media. Fair (and honest) analysts know that a pigskin can bounce funny and ruin the smartest gamble.
It’s also wise to take a cold shower on the media’s hype. The Dallas Cowboys, for instance, are considered an annual NFL “disappointment” even though the Dallas roster isn’t really that much different or superior to the club’s NFC East rivals. Silver Star draft picks and trade-acquisitions get lots of national attention each off-season. Reports swirl of Dallas players looking great – great while running around in practice without anyone trying to hit them yet. The Cowboys are then touted as Super Bowl favorites (and enjoy short betting odds) while equally-talented rosters go overlooked.
The #1 rule of handicapping NFL odds is not to overlook anyone. All 32 clubs are comprised of highly-paid professionals. There are no “bad” football players to be found – only winning teams and losing teams.
Favorites’ odds to win the next Super Bowl begin to grow “short” in December, while clubs that are mathematically-eliminated from the NFL playoffs disappear from a sportsbook’s futures.
What Are Super Bowl “Futures” Odds Exactly?
In case you aren’t familiar with “futures” odds on the upcoming Super Bowl, such futures are bets placed on teams to win the Lombardi Trophy before the match-up is known, and sometimes even before the season starts. Sportsbooks weigh an NFL team’s likely chances and corresponding odds to mount a playoff bid, survive the NFC or AFC’s postseason gauntlet, and then prevail in the biggest game of all.
Futures bettors aren’t wagering on a favorite or a long odds underdog to “cover the spread” or to win next Sunday, but to rise above 31 other hopefuls and win The Shield’s ultimate title.
FanDuel Sportsbook offers “futures” odds on Super Bowl favorites throughout the National Football League season. Residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Iowa, and Indiana can sign-up for Super Bowl betting with the top name in online bookmaking and Daily Fantasy Sports.
Super Bowl 54: Chiefs Early Favorites Over 49ers
Super Bowl Betting Odds
Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers
Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Jets
New York Giants
With the NFL’s 2020 conference titles now decided, the AFC-representative Kansas City Chiefs have opened as slight favorites to beat the NFC-representative San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. While the Super Bowl odds at FanDuel have already shifted several times, making it impossible to list the exact current lines in every blog post, we can report that KC’s moneyline (odds-to-win straight up) is dancing around (-120) while the point spread opened at Kansas City (-1.5), promising a payoff for those who pick the early favorites if the Chiefs win the Lombardi Trophy by at least a 2-point margin.
Why is coach Andy Reid’s club favored to beat such a dominant San Francisco team? KC’s quarterback could be a big reason. Patrick Mahomes is a smart, play-making dual threat with a rocket arm, the winner of the 2018-19 National Football League season MVP award, and currently enjoying the shortest gambling line to be crowned MVP of the Super Bowl in Miami.
Mahomes’ offense got off to cold starts in January playoff games against the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. But by the end of the 3rd quarter in each contest, the Chiefs were so hot that even Arrowhead Stadium began to feel balmy. Mahomes was machine-like against Houston on 1/12, throwing 5 touchdown passes on just 35 attempts in Kansas City’s 51-31 victory.
A week later against the stubborn Tennessee Titans, the QB seized the lead and the momentum for KC with an insta-classic 27-yard TD run in which several would-be tacklers tried and failed to bring down Mahomes short of the goal line. He would lead the team in rushing yards for the 2nd weekend in a row while tossing 3 more touchdown passes to put away the Titans and claim an AFC championship.
Points may not come so easy against the 49er defense, widely acknowledged to be the best D in the NFL through 19 games. Former Seattle Seahawk (and Super Bowl champion) Richard Sherman is a shut-down defensive back for San Francisco whose tally of exactly 1 interception during the regular season was a result of opposing QBs looking away from his quadrant of the field. 49er defensive end Nick Bosa is another Pro Bowl selection (who obviously won’t manage to play in the 2020 Pro Bowl due to Super Bowl obligations) who has racked-up 50+ tackles and double-digit sacks (counting regular season plus NFC playoff statistics) as a rookie in 2019-20.
Still, despite the 49ers’ strong pass rush and harsh physical style, bookies are convinced that the talent and speed of the Kansas City offense – beginning with the guy behind center – is enough to cast the Chiefs as a tiny favorite. So far, enough gamblers have agreed with Sin City’s assessment so as to keep Super Bowl 54 lines from immediately jumping toward San Francisco.
San Francisco’s attack only highlights the clash of styles in Magic City. When Tim Tebow only attempted 8 passes in a 17-10 win over Kansas City in 2011, pundits guffawed, and claimed that the outcome was a fluke. Last weekend, the 49ers attempted only 8 passes against the Green Bay Packers and won the NFC title in a near blow-out as tailback Raheem Mostert simply dominated the game. The ridicule and skepticism of run-heavy NFL teams is gone. Superstar rushers are in vogue once again.
But as Kansas City fans would be quick to point out, Mahomes’ immense skill-set gives the Chiefs the best of both worlds. If the Super Bowl turns into a battle of patient ground games, Mahomes’ ability to contribute as an elite ballcarrier could be an X-factor that San Francisco lacks from its QB Jimmy Garoppolo. If the contest in Miami turns into an aerial shoot-out, the pass-blocking of San Francisco’s OL may face its sternest test yet, and KC’s quarterback is unlikely to lose a battle of long bombs.
Finally, special teams may be playing a huge role in KC’s current favorites’ margin on the point spread. Robbie Gould has had excellent games in San Francisco, but he’s missed a few makeable FG attempts this season as well. PK Harrison Butker of the Chiefs has been nearly perfect from inside 50 yards, and his teammate Mecole Hardman may prove to be a more-dangerous kick and punt returner than anyone the 49ers can put on the field.
If there’s any early line-movement to speak of, it’s a subtle shift toward the 49ers on the spread. FanDuel’s point spread on Super Bowl 54 may wind up as a “pick’em” by the time the ball is kicked off on February 2nd. But given how valued elite QBs are in the gambling community, don’t be surprised to see the Kansas City Chiefs maintain their status as a slender moneyline favorite.
Other Ways to Bet on 2020 Super Bowl Favorites at FanDuel
If the moneyline and point spread markets aren’t your bag, there’s plenty of variety in alternate betting options for Super Bowl 54.
FanDuel Sportsbook is offering at least 5 categories of gambling lines on the upcoming gala, including prop betting odds on a Super Bowl MVP, prop odds on individual players to score TDs in the game, and even a market for predicting the opening coin toss!
Would you rather manage a roster of Super Bowl performers than bet on the big game? Check out FanDuel’s Daily Fantasy Sports competitions for all skill levels, and scroll this page of Super Bowl DFS tips for guidance on conquering Fantasy foes through 4 quarters of the Greatest Show on Earth.
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