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Super Bowl LIV Early Thoughts

Super Bowl LIV Early Thoughts

By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

The Conference Championships have just wrapped up and as the smoke is clearing, we strive to form and shape the Super Bowl LIV reality. It's one of those tough Super Bowls where a very clear case for victory can be made on either side. There are ample things to like on both sides, up and down the roster—on both sides of the ball. With how evenly-matched these teams are and looking at the early line, this will be one of the tightest spreads in Super Bowl history.

Getting a Lay of the Land

These playoffs have been telling. The San Francisco 49ers have forged their way to two postseason wins into Super Bowl 54 without much incident, with double-digit no-sweat victories over the Vikings and the Packers. They look to be a well-oiled team, finishing the season strongly, before finding their peak in the postseason. And it wasn't easy, as they needed to right the ship after a rough patch during a 3-3 run that followed their big 8-0 start. But with that run-game clicking and a young defense that has hitters on all levels, they now look every bit the part of a Super Bowl contender.

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For the Kansas City Chiefs, the end-results in these playoffs look routine enough—a 51-31 win over Houston, followed by a 35-24 win over the Titans. But within those games is hope for San Francisco, as the Chiefs had to overcome big deficits in both games, beginning each game in ragged form. First, they fell behind 24-0 to the Texans before exploding for a 51-point output. And on Sunday in the AFC title game, they twice fell behind by double-digit deficits, before again blossoming later in the game. While these offensive displays offer promise, the prospects of them falling behind like that to this Niners' team is a daunting proposition indeed.

Why It's Hard to Bet Against KC in This Spot

While Lamar Jackson will likely haul in the MVP this season, for the purposes of this game and the high stakes, you can't do better than Patrick Mahomes. The defending MVP is in fine form. Whereas last season, the Chiefs' offense may have peaked early, this season shows them hitting their highest notes at just the right time. Andy Reid has been here before and now looks for his first ring after over two decades as a head coach. And after making it to the AFC title game and losing painfully in overtime last season, the Chiefs look for one better this season.

Not many people will ponder defense when calibrating the Chiefs' chances in Super Bowl LIV, but that could be a mistake. Between some various bad showings in the regular season and some dicey moments in this postseason, the public's confidence on this side of the ball might be low. But let's balance some of those issues with some of the good things we've seen—holding their last 6 regular season opponents to a combined 70 points, shutting the Texans down after a horrible start, and keeping Derrick Henry in check in the conference title game. We've seen first-year Chiefs players like Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark really ramping up their play in the playoffs. But it gets really tough in this game.

Why Betting Against the Niners is Difficult

Despite some slipups, they have clearly been the class of the NFC this season, first with the 8-0 start, some big wins late in the season, and a rather trouble-free run through the playoffs to the Bowl. Giving it extra juice is how unexpected it was. While most viewed the 49ers as a team that could be on the rise if they can avoid costly injuries, not many forecasted this level of success, particularly in a top-heavy conference where any number of other teams were more-fancied to get to this spot. But we finally saw what was possible when a roster packed with talent catches a few breaks.

Against the Packers, San Fran QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw only 8 passes and they still won going away. In the divisional round against Minnesota, he threw for only 131 yards. So how is a QB with Pop Warner numbers thriving in this context? Well, they run the heck out of the ball and seeing Raheem Mostert going for over 200 yards against Green Bay shows a ground-game that has really hit their peak. They still have other layers they can unravel, with George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, and others lying in wait. So while we might see a rather one-dimensional offense, that doesn't mean they don't have other dimensions they can't unveil. And making it all come together is the coaching, as Kyle Shanahan is an innovative mind on offense. It shows on the field, as they always seem to dial up the right answers.

Will the Niners' Defense Be Too Much?

Granted, the Chiefs have a defense capable of big things. They could conceivably make a major impact on this game with a big-play ability that could potentially manifest. But the Niners would appear to have a more bankable unit on defense. They already had abundant talent on that side of the ball, but with much better health and player development, things really took off. Add some difference-making rookies like Nick Bosa and Dre Greenlaw and we now see a defense that is deep on all levels. They had the top-ranked secondary this season, which could go a long way against Mahomes, with an ample pass-rush that could have also have a major impact.

Let the Decision Breathe

The Super Bowl is unique for many reasons. For bettors, they have a different landscape than they do at any other part of the season, getting a full two weeks to make the decision. And as this is being written the day after the conference finals, it's important to allow the decision-making to unfold in a more long-range sense. Sure, we might have an idea of what we're going to do. But this is a time of the year that calls for more patience, to let the decision breathe a bit, as we scour the full scope of different possibilities. Did you know... that you could be wagering on Super Bowl LIV at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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