Today's Free Picks for
Posted Saturday, February 10 at 5:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Super Bowl LVIII
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
San Francisco -2 -105 over Kansas City
6:30 PM EST. This is only the third time these franchises have met in the last six years. The first was Super Bowl LIV in 2020 when the Chiefs trailed 20-10 in the third quarter and then outscored the 49ers 21-0 in the fourth quarter to take the 31-20 win. Patrick Mahomes got hot in the final quarter while Jimmy Garoppolo went cold.
They played again during the 2022 season when the Chiefs always led and won 44-23 in San Francisco. Patrick Mahomes was red hot for the entire game (423 yards, 3 TD), and Jimmy Garoppolo went cold in the final quarter. Again.
The 49ers reached this game as the No. 1 seed in the NFC but needed a huge comeback in the Conference Championship to dispatch the Lions. The Chiefs dominated the Dolphins, then squeezed past the Bills, and again, won by one score at the Ravens. Vegas has the 49ers with a two-point advantage in the Super Bowl. These teams are relatively evenly matched, differing mainly since the 49ers' offense is more talented and stocked with weapons. However, the Chiefs bring a better defense that is playing lights-out in the postseason. If it comes down to Brock Purdy vs. Patrick Mahomes, it is tough to dismiss what the highly experienced Mahomes brings to the table over first-timer Purdy. That’s the setup. If you’ve been talking to friends, listening to the radio, or TV, you’ve heard the same thing as we have — you don’t bet against Patrick Mahomes.
That may be true, but we don’t subscribe to narratives. We are value seekers first and foremost. In that regard, a closer look reveals that Kansas City was a +4½-point underdog against Baltimore, and now they are less against San Francisco. How can that be? It’s based on recency bias and market perception, that’s how. We can even take that a step further and point out that on December 25th, San Francisco was a -6½ point favorite over Baltimore while Baltimore was a -4½-point favorite over Kansas City last game. Does that not scream out to you how the oddsmakers view these two teams over the past eight weeks (5 or 6 games) up to and including last week? Forget the results of those games because results happen and focus more on “The Great Equalizer” (the point-spread) to figure out where the true value lies in this game.
The other big narratives we’re reading and hearing everywhere is that Kansas City’s defense is playing lights out and San Francisco has not looked good in the postseason. We’re not here to argue either point, but we will point out that Kansas City hasn’t looked very good either, but its difficulties have been masked because they won the game. The market, media, and fans are completely fascinated by winning. We’re not. What we saw was a Chiefs’ team that couldn’t move five yards against Baltimore. The second half of that aforementioned game featured seven possessions by Kansas City that resulted in six punts and a kneel-down. Kansas City received five first downs via penalties while Baltimore didn’t get any. In Kansas City’s 73 plays to Baltimore’s 57 plays from scrimmage, Baltimore gained more yards than Kansas City. The Chiefs won the turnover and penalty battle but that’s all they won.
Zay Flowers cost his Ravens the game, and that’s what the narrative should be. Early in the fourth quarter with the Ravens down 17-7, Flowers reached the ball into the end zone, trying to score a touchdown that would have cut the deficit to three. Instead, he fumbled as cornerback L’Jarius Sneed knocked the ball out of his hands inside the 1-yard line, and the Chiefs recovered. A few plays earlier, Flowers was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting after he spun the ball while standing directly above Sneed, who tackled him following a 54-yard reception from Lamar Jackson. The penalty on Flowers — one of many by the undisciplined Ravens throughout the game — backed up Baltimore 15 yards, and it cost them. Kansas City actually looked awful last week but got very lucky. They were also lucky to get by the Bills.
While everyone believes that the 49ers are the lucky ones (and they are), Kansas City is equally lucky. That’s football. Luck, in-game variance, and intangibles play a massive role in outcomes. If they didn’t, we’d all be rich, which is why we must stick to value. Yeah, K.C’s defense has been great, but so was Cleveland’s until the Texans racked up 41 points on them and blew them out. If you’re buying Kansas City’s defense now, you are a little late to the party. We’re selling that defense, and here’s why:
San Francisco survived two scares and two weak first-half performances. The 49ers' stock is lower than it should be. Brock Purdy has checked all of the efficiency boxes this season. He ranked 1st in EPA/play, 1st in yards per attempt, and has been able to avoid sacks and scramble more often than previous quarterbacks under Kyle Shanahan. Christian McCaffrey was arguably the league’s best running back this season. He is both an efficient runner and a true home run threat. Brandon Aiyuk continues to ascend in the playoffs as the #1 receiving option in this offense while Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle are highly effective when targeted.
Game by game, week by week, San Francisco has looked much better than the Chiefs. Kansas City finished a pedestrian 11-6 this year. In the last 10 weeks of the season, they went 5-5. They lost to Denver by 16, they lost to the Raiders by 6, and they barely got by the Chargers (13-12). Earlier in the year, K.C. barely got by the Jets (23-20). They played five games this year against backup QBs and didn’t blow out any of those teams, but all this market sees is a team that has won two straight when it matters most, while the 49ers have “underachieved” in the playoffs. This brings us back full circle to value. San Francisco didn’t beat teams this year; they destroyed them. Now, because of the “Mahomes” factor, recency bias, market inefficiency, and misperception, Kansas City is getting way too much credit in this number. Play whatever props you want, and we hope you cash ‘em all, but we’ll be playing the 49ers simply because they’re probably the best value play this playoff season.
San Francisco -2 -105 (Risking 2.10 units - To Win: 2.00)