Why You Should Bet the Buccaneers to Cover the Super Bowl Spread Against the Chiefs
Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs QB Tom Brady
- Our Director of Predictive Analytics projects the Chiefs as only 1.5-point favorites over the Buccaneers.
- He explains why he likes Tom Brady and the Bucs to cover the Super Bowl 55 spread as underdogs as a result.
Super Bowl Odds
Super Bowl 55 features arguably the best quarterback matchup in Super Bowl history: The GOAT himself in Tom Brady vs. the potential “future GOAT” in Patrick Mahomes.
In a decade, the outcome of this game could be the main talking point whenever we discuss “Who is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game?”
But that’s a conversation for the future — how should we bet this game now?
The Chiefs suffered another loss along their offensive line when left tackle Eric Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship. It was a crushing blow to a line that’s already missing the following starters: Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (opt-out), left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (back).
The timing of Fisher’s injury could not be worse considering the Chiefs face a defense that ranked third in pressure rate on the season and just welcomed back Vita Vea, who ranked fifth out of 70 qualified defensive tackles with an 11.3% pressure rate.
But if there’s a quarterback who can overcome offensive line woes, it’s Patrick Mahomes: When given a clean pocket this season, Mahomes ranked first out of 37 qualified quarterbacks in success rate. But even when facing pressure, he was fifth.
Where the Bucs could pose real issues for Mahomes is their ability to generate pressure by rushing only four or fewer and having seven players drop back in coverage.
The Bucs were able to sack Aaron Rodgers five times in the NFC Championship while rushing four or fewer. That was against a Packers offensive line ranked first in ESPN’s pass-block and run-block win rate metrics. If they can have a similar performance against a decimated Chiefs’ O, line, I believe the Bucs could win this game outright.
The betting public tends to overlook offensive line injuries, and with 63% of the money pouring in on the Chiefs as of Friday, that is likely the case here (find real-time public betting data here).
Steve Spagnuolo has done an incredible job as the Chiefs defensive coordinator. His scheme is designed to be a run funnel defense, as seen by their ranks in Football Outsiders’ DVOA over his first two seasons:
- 2019: 7th vs. pass; 26th vs. run
- 2020: 16th vs. pass; 31st vs. run
It’s a smart strategy.
“You think you can keep up with Mahomes and our offense by running the ball on us? Good luck with that.”
The problem is that they meet their match against a potent Tampa Bay offense. The Bucs have now scored 30 or more points in six straight games. It’ wasn’t unreasonable to think their offense would get better as the season went on. After all, Tom Brady joined a new team and system with a limited offseason.
It appears the offense is hitting its stride at just the right time.
My power ratings project the Chiefs as 1.5-point favorites. And I’m not awarding the Bucs any home-field advantage despite this being the first time a team plays the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Therefore, if the Bucs do end up benefiting from any variables that come with playing at home this week, it will be the icing on the cake.
Brady has gone 27-12-2 against the spread as an underdog over his career according to our Action Labs database. I’ll gladly take the GOAT at +3, though I would consider paying up to get the extra half-point at +3.5 if you can get it for -130 or less.
PICK: Bucs +3