Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sun, Feb 7 3:30 PM PT
Rotation: 101, Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3, Total: 55.5
Game Analysis view matchup stats
Lean – TAMPA BAY (+3) over Kansas City
Kansas City Offense vs Tampa Bay Defense
The Buccaneers conceded a league-low 3.7 yards per rush this season and eventually opponents stopped running the ball against them as they faced the highest pass rate in the NFL over the last 10 games. Andy Reid mostly ignored the ground game when these teams met in week 12, with Patrick Mahomes passing on 83% of their plays in the first half when they jumped out to a 20-7 lead. Chiefs’ receiver Mecole Hardman had a 50-yard run last week but Kansas City’s running backs were held to just 59 rushing yards against Buffalo and I expect Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and Le’Veon Bell to mostly be non-factors on Sunday.
Tampa Bay’s defense had a 38% blitz rate this year (6th) but the Bucs only sent extra pass rushers on only 18% of Mahomes’ dropbacks in week 12. The Buccaneers were using a standard pass rush during all five of their sacks in Green Bay and DC Todd Bowles will likely count on his defensive line again this week. The Chiefs lost Pro Bowl LT Eric Fisher (worth 0.8 points) to a torn Achilles’ tendon in their AFC Championship but Kansas City should be even more vulnerable on the opposite side. The Chiefs moved RT Mike Remmers (11th in pass blocking efficiency) to the left side when Fisher got hurt last game and he should limit Pro Bowl edge defender Jason Pierre-Paul, who has a 9% pressure rate. Tampa Bay’s best edge defender is actually Shaquil Barrett, who has a 15% pressure rate. Andrew Wylie ranked 40th in pass blocking efficiency among 57 qualifying guards this year and he could be much worse now moving out to an unfamiliar position at right tackle across from Barrett. Interior defender Vita Vea was back on the field in the NFC Championship for the first time since week 5. Vea ranked 4th in pass rushing efficiency in early October before suffering an ankle fracture and his return creates a very effective rotation with backup William Gholston, who is 7th in pass rushing efficiency. The Buccaneers will now have Vea, Gholston, and Ndamukong Suh to line up on the interior across from two seventh-round picks, LG Nick Allegretti and C Austin Reiter, and RG Stefan Wisniewski, who was released by the Steelers in November. Tampa Bay should be able to get pressure on Mahomes without blitzing.
Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson, and Davante Adams averaged just 3.3 receptions and 28 yards per game with Tampa Bay CB Carlton Davis in shadow coverage this season but Tyreek Hill’s skill set is distinct from those receivers. The Buccaneers tried to use Davis in shadow coverage against Hill in week 12 and he had 203 yards and two touchdowns by halftime. Davis ran a 4.53 40 Yard Dash at the combine (below average for cornerbacks) while Tampa Bay’s other CB Jamel Dean ran a 4.30. Dean conceded just 0.68 yards per cover snap this year (4th) but missed the Chiefs game with a concussion. I could see Todd Bowles using Dean on Hill this time around with extra safety help in order to avoid a repeat of week 12. LB Lavonte David is allowing just 0.77 yards per cover snap (9th) and will challenge Chiefs’ All-Pro TE Travis Kelce underneath.
Tampa Bay Offense vs Kansas City Defense
The Chiefs used press coverage at the highest rate in the NFL this season and consequently allowed 85 deep targets while Tom Brady posted a league-leading 9.7-yards average depth of target. Kansas City’s coverage funnels the ball towards the middle of the field and it will be a tough matchup for Mike Evans and a banged-up Antonio Brown outside the numbers. CBs Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland are combining to concede only 0.89 yards per cover snap while rookie nickelback L’Jarius Sneed is being targeted in the slot every 5.1 cover snaps. I expect Brady to utilize seam routes from TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Chris Godwin, who is averaging 1.91 yards per route run in the slot.
Brady will have to get the ball out quickly facing pressure from up the middle with right guard Alex Cappa out again due to a fractured ankle. Backup RG Aaron Stinnie went undrafted in 2018 and his first career start came against New Orleans in the divisional round. Stinnie is surrendering a 7% pressure rate in the playoffs (NFL average for guards is 4.9%) and interior defender Chris Jones ranked 3rd in pass rushing efficiency this season. However, Jones will only line up across from Stinnie on about half of the pass rushing snaps and the other half will be against LG Ali Marpet, who led all guards in pass blocking efficiency this season. Leonard Fournette could be an outlet when Brady is under pressure as the RB is averaging 5.7 targets per game in the playoffs. The Chiefs have surrendered the most receiving yards to opposing running backs in both seasons with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Kansas City’s rush defense ranks 18th and we are projecting Fournette and Ronald Jones to combine for about 90 yards on the ground.
Our model favors the Chiefs by just 0.8 points with a predicted total of 54.6 points given the forecast of 7 MPH winds and an 18% chance of rain as of Thursday morning. Games with rain are lower scoring by about three points on average so the projected score would be lower if it does rain throughout the game. Tom Brady is 45-25 straight up and 50-20 ATS from -2 to underdog in his career, including 8-3 ATS in the post-season (2-0 in the Super Bowl), so he tends to play his best when he needs to.
These props have the expected value of a Best Bet but will be graded as Strong Opinions, just as all playoff props have been graded in the past (those are 22-5 now). Limits at most books are too low on player props to be able to grade them as Best Bets (although I wish I could), as I’m guessing most clients can’t get down a Best Bet amount on these.
Patrick Mahomas Over 21.5 Rushing Yards
From right to left, the Chiefs starting offensive line in the Super Bowl will be Andrew Wylie (undrafted free agent in 2018), Stefan Wisniewski (released by Pittsburgh in November), Austin Reiter (seventh-round pick in 2015), Nick Allegretti (seventh-round pick in 2019), and Mike Remmers (hadn’t played left tackle since 2016 before the Fisher’s injury in the AFC Championship). Tampa Bay’s defensive line is one of the best in the NFL with interior defenders William Gholston (7th in pass rushing efficiency), Ndamukong Suh (22nd in pass rushing efficiency), and Vita Vea now back from an ankle fracture (was 4th in pass rushing efficiency before the injury). Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul led the league in pressures for an edge rushing duo (124) and combined for five sacks in the NFC Championship game.
Patrick Mahomes is going to be running for his life and could be under pressure on nearly half of his dropbacks, which will force him out of the pocket into opportunities to scramble, similar to the Super Bowl last year. Mahomes had nine rushes for 29 yards against the 49ers a year ago, but he had 44 rushing yards before taking 3 kneel downs for -15 yards which I do not think will happen again. The average kneel is -1.1 yards and there are 2.0 kneels per game but 21% of those kneel downs happen in the first half and I imagine most likely Kansas City (and Tampa Bay) will be aggressive at the end of the first half so I’ll expect 1.7 kneel downs for the winning team. Thus, if Kansas City does have the lead and the ball with time running out I certainly don’t expect another -15 rush yards on 3 kneel downs. The Chiefs have a 60% chance to win the game multiplied by 1.7 and then by -1.1 projects Mahomes to have just 1.1 rushing yards lost to kneels. I’ll set a strike price on Mahomes’ rushing yards up to Over 25.5.
Buccaneers to record a first sack (-125)
Kansas City’s defense ranks about average in pressure rate and sack percentage. The Chiefs don’t have any significant matchup advantage in the trenches against Tampa Bay’s offensive line with their best pass rusher Chris Jones likely to have a similar amount of snaps versus LG Ali Marpet (1st in pass blocking efficiency) and back RG Aaron Stinnie (7% pressure rate allowed). Tom Brady had a 3.3% sack rate this season and it’s a stretch to project over 4% on Sunday.
I’ve written above about the difficulties Kansas City’s offensive line is going to have keeping the Buccaneers in front of them. Patrick Mahomes has a 3.4% sack rate through 17 starts but I expect his sack rate in this game to be closer to Tampa Bay’s high defense’s sack rate (6.9%) given the Chiefs’ offensive line issues.
Tampa Bay’s defense faced the highest pass rate in the NFL over their last 10 games and Andy Reid mostly ignored the ground game when these teams met in week 12 with Patrick Mahomes passing on 83% of their plays in the first half. The Buccaneers rank 7th in run rate on first-and-10 this year (52%). Before the touchdown drive at the end of the half, Tampa Bay called a run on seven of ten first downs in the first half against the Packers last round. I expect the Chiefs’ offense to pass more early in this game than the Buccaneers will, so there will be more opportunities to sack Mahomes than opportunities to sack Brady. The Buccaneers may be forced more to throw if they fall behind, but Brady is unlikely to take a sack in the first few drives.
I project 2.7 sacks for Tampa Bay’s defense and 1.6 sacks for Kansas City’s defense. Constraint for this prop is -150.
Tom Brady Win Super Bowl MVP (+210)
We lean with Tampa Bay and they have a 40% win probability according to our model. This prop implies Brady has a 32.3% chance to win the MVP, meaning there is about a one in five chance the Buccaneers win and someone else wins the MVP. I think that probability is more like 5% a Buc other than Brady would win the MVP if the Tampa Bay wins. People like to take the longshots in this prop but it would take an incredible individual performance from a different player to be given the MVP if Tampa Bay wins. Brady threw three interceptions in the NFC Championship and still would’ve won the MVP if that game was the Super Bowl. I believe the likelihood of Brady winning the Super Bowl MVP is more like 38% and would play this down to +190. If Brady wins the MVP it will be graded as 2 wins – just as we risked 2 wins last season on the Garoppolo prop at -200.
Byron Pringle Under 10.5 Receiving Yards
According to Sammy Watkins, he’s feeling great, very optimistic, and is having good practices so I expect him to be back on the field this Sunday relegating Byron Pringle to the 5th wide receiver on the depth chart. Pringle has just 10 routes and two targets in the 13 games when Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and Watkins have all been healthy since the start of last season. Pringle averages just 1.32 yards per route run since entering the NFL and he would need to be projected for at least 8 routes to go over this prop. There’s a chance Pringle doesn’t have a single snap with a receiving route but I think we can conservatively estimate Pringle for 2 routes and I’ll set the constraint at Under 6.5 Receiving Yards or more.