Super Bowl Live Betting Strategy: What Our Experts are Watching for During Chiefs vs. Buccaneers
Getty Images. Pictured: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
If you’ve locked in your pregame Super Bowl 55 bets and are already thinking about how to live bet the game, you’ve come to the right place.
Our experts break down which picks they’ll be looking to make after kickoff.
Chiefs Live Under -3
Chris Raybon: I invested in Bucs +3.5 when lines first opened, but have since hedged out with Chiefs at -3. Since completing my deep dive, I tweaked my projections from Chiefs -2.5 to -3 and don’t see much value at maintaining my Bucs +3.5 position — there are simply more paths for the Chiefs to victory, even if things go wrong, while the Bucs would have to play a perfect game.
After the Bucs scored 21 points off turnovers against the Saints in the Divisional Round then scored 14 more points off Packers turnovers (while getting a freebie Scotty Miller touchdown at the end of the first half), I’m not sure that the Bucs have enough perfect game in them.
The Chiefs, however, have been prone to slow starts, so I will be looking to invest in the live at better than -3, which we could get if the Bucs are threatening a touchdown early or take an early lead.
Hope for Another Slow Start
Stuckey: I won’t have a play on the side or total, unless I can get an over 54.5 (-110) at some point (check real-time odds here). But if we do get another slow Super Bowl start, I will be hunting for a good live over opportunity — ideally at 51 or lower.
During the past 20 years, we have witnessed teams get off to extremely slow starts in the Super Bowl. Since 1999, the average total points in the first quarter of the “Big Game” has been just 6.41 points. That’s over two points fewer than the average of all first quarters over that same time period. Amazingly, teams have combined to score 10 or more first-quarter points only three times in the last 22 Super Bowl games. In contrast, the other three quarters have each averaged more than their respective overall averages.
However, the same trend applies to conference championship games. Still, it’s meaningless without causation. So, is there any sound logic to support why this would occur? I can think of two specific reasons:
- Nerves. Quarterbacks might start out a little skittish and uncharacteristically miss a few throws until they settle in. They also might begin the game with a more conservative mindset — hoping to avoid an early mistake in such a big game.
- The Feeling-Out Process. With two weeks to prepare for the highest-leverage game of the season, teams have historically come out with completely new looks and schemes. It may take a drive or two for the offenses to figure out what the opposing defenses are doing and to adjust accordingly.
Could those explanations just be nonsensical narratives? Sure; but, those do at least make sense to me. In fairness, I’m not sure that the first explanation (nerves) holds as much water this year with two past Super Bowl-champion quarterbacks. Neither Brady nor Mahomes will be afraid of the big stage.
Although, during Brady’s nine Super Bowl appearances, there has been an average of only 3.0 points scored in the first quarter. Seven of Brady’s nine championship games have featured three points or fewer scored in the first quarter — and only one of Brady’s Super Bowl games has gone over 10 first-quarter points (12).
Of course, that first-quarter trend could be more reflective of Brady’s past Patriots teams — rather than descriptive of Brady himself — which is a fair rebuttal.
But ultimately, I’m not taking the risk; instead, I’ll be targeting a live over at a price point where I see value. Some have asked me, “Why not just play the first quarter (or first half) under?” It’s a great question; but, there’s a chance that the previous trends are statistical anomalies — and moreover that the betting market has priced them into the first-quarter and first-half totals.
Even if we get a slow start by pure chance, there are a few other reasons I may fancy a live over (depending on the number, of course). I don’t think the Chiefs will try running the ball much at all, especially from behind. And let’s be honest, Kansas City could easily come back from a three-score deficit in the first half (which we witnessed last year). Even a second-half 17-point deficit isn’t out of the question. And with a lead, I’m not sure that Kansas City can or will attempt to rush as frequently as usual late in the game against such a dominant run defense and potent offense on the other side.
Over 51, Kansas City +3.5 or Better
Collin Wilson: My pregame bets on the Action App are First Quarter Under, Full Game Under and Tampa Bay +3. With those wagers in mind, there will be a constant search to create a window in the live space. The question is when to fire if pregame expectations play out. While the Chiefs have deferred on every coin flip win over the past two years, Bruce Arians has elected to put Tom Brady on the field first in the two games the Bucs have won the flip since Thanksgiving.
Backing Tampa Bay and the Under pregame plays into the fact that offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich loves to run the ball in standard downs. The Chiefs defense is 31st in Rush DVOA per Football Outsiders, which should equate to early Tampa success on the ground.
The best way to beat the Chiefs is to keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines. While this game starts slow, there are no expectations it will remain slow. No matter how you slice the Pace/Time stats at Football Outsiders, these teams rank as the fastest in seconds per play. Specifically, Tampa Bay and Kansas City rank top four in seconds per play in the first half.
If both offenses can have sustained drives to eat clock and end scoring a field goal or less, grabbing the key number of 51 is imperative to pregame Under investors. These teams continue at a high tempo in situation neutral with a seconds per play rank in the top seven, making an early Over the plan of attack.
Dissecting the Chiefs’ success rate on offense would show the perfect time for a live wager is mid-second quarter. Since Week 15, the trending stats show a stark difference in success rate and explosiveness for Kansas City as games progress. The Chiefs are the top team in the NFL in rushing success rate and explosiveness during the second quarter. Mahomes’ most explosive passing quarter through the season was the third, making the “Middle 8” the most important segment of the game. Look to take Kansas City live before their last possession in the second quarter and following a second-half kickoff return.
Kansas City ML Live at Even or Plus odds
Brandon Anderson: Nothing in sports betting lights my eyes up more than a chance to bet on Patrick Mahomes at plus money.
We don’t get a ton of chances, and when we do get them, they go by quickly. Against the Bills in the AFC Championship Game, we had a five- or 10-minute window, and then — poof, it was gone. The Bills led early, Mahomes was an underdog for a few brief minutes, and a couple hours later he was joking on the sidelines with a two-touchdown lead.
We saw it happen throughout the playoffs last year. The Chiefs started slow, Mahomes became an underdog, and a couple flashes later, the Chiefs were winning again — often comfortably.
If it feels like Mahomes is inevitable, it’s because he pretty much has been. Do you realize Mahomes has literally never lost as a professional by more than one possession? NEVER!!
That means, even in the worst case scenario, we still get Mahomes with the ball and a chance to tie or win late, and the Chiefs have won 11 straight games that finished within a margin of seven points. Kansas City has won 25 of its last 26 games with Mahomes. He really is invincible until proven otherwise.
The Chiefs are down to -3, which means an early Tampa score could quickly make Mahomes an underdog. If the Bucs go up 7-0 or 10-7 early and I see a plus in front of Mahomes’ moneyline odds, I’m jumping. If it’s 17-7 at the half and I’m getting some juice, all the better. If the Chiefs are down 14 heading to the fourth, I’m still thinking about playing Mahomes unless something has very seriously changed my mind.
Maybe that means the Chiefs offensive line just can’t hold up, Mahomes doesn’t look fully healthy, and he literally can’t stay upright to get throws off. If that’s the scenario, then fine, I might not bet on Mahomes. But I still might!
Listen, if I get a chance to bet on a Mahomes moneyline at even or plus odds, that means you’re giving me the opportunity to bet on the most talented player in football history winning a game and that you’re giving me odds for my trouble. And I’m taking that opportunity.
I’m not putting much on Chiefs -3 before the game mostly because I think there’s a very good chance I get Kansas City live at even or plus odds, and unless something has gone horribly wrong or we’re down to the final minutes, I still like my chances.
We’ve seen Mahomes spot plenty of teams points. He always finds a way.
Brandon Anderson: I’m with Stuckey on this one. I won’t be playing the game total on this one, because I think the number doesn’t hold much value right now.
But I am considering playing the first half under, because I agree that this game could start out slow and build as it hits halftime and the fourth quarter.
That’s how these Mahomes-Brady battles have played out in the past, before this year’s game. The first time they met, the Patriots controlled the clock and held the Chiefs to nine first-half points, but the game ended up 43-40 after 31 second-half points from Mahomes. The Pats won on the final play.
When the teams met later that year in the AFC Championship, it was a slower start again before the teams exploded for 38 points in the fourth quarter. New England won in overtime, 37-31, and more than half of the game’s points came in that final period. Mahomes finally beat Brady in the third meeting, and that one didn’t see a big explosion, in part because it was near the end for Brady and the Pats. Then this year, it was the Chiefs who took a huge early lead but the Bucs scored 14 in the final minutes to get the game to 51 points.
This is the Super Bowl, so it only makes sense that these teams will feel the pressure and try to feel one another out early. With both offensive lines shorthanded, I also expect teams to try to establish the run early on, at least a little, to slow the opposing pass rush down.
But the points will come. The Chiefs don’t have enough on defense to hold Brady and all his weapons down forever, and Mahomes always scores. The Chiefs have scored 31 points in every Mahomes playoff game for his career, other than the Browns game he got injured in.
I’ll be thinking about playing the second-half over anyway, and if the game starts out slowly, I’ll only feel more compelled. I see this game as a crescendo, with each quarterback only getting more and more aggressive and the scoring continuing to increase toward a frenzied finish. If I can get a live over at 50 or below anytime in the first half, I’ll feel pretty good. These teams could literally hit that with one big half. And I won’t be afraid to play a live over that expects 20 or more points in the fourth quarter toward a big finish.
One caveat here is the weather. If it ends up raining and weather is a factor, that changes the equation and I may not look to bet the over in that scenario. But I’ll still consider it even then, knowing the books will be compensating for weather too.