Super Bowl Special Teams Prop Betting Analysis for Chiefs vs Eagles

Super Bowl Special Teams Prop Betting Analysis for Chiefs vs Eagles article feature image

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jake Elliott (middle), Arryn Siposs (right).

I'm sure some of you have already grown tired of hearing about the Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver injuries or the Philadelphia Eagles' weak strength of schedule.

What about the special teams?

We've seen the often-forgotten third phase of the game decide many Super Bowls in the past. Which team has the edge in Super Bowl 57? It's a good question with some of the personnel uncertainty on both sides.

I'll first dig in to every facet of each special teams unit and then finish up with a high-level comparison and my favorite special teams prop for Chiefs vs. Eagles.

Philadelphia Eagles Special Teams

If you look at Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, the Eagles haven’t finished with a top-10 special teams unit in the regular season since 2016. They actually had their highest finish since 2016 this year at 13th overall.

Let’s first start with Philly’s strengths. Jake Elliott had a decent-but-not-great season, finishing 20-for-23 on field goals and 51-for-53 on extra points. He also missed one game with an injury. Of the 34 kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals, he ranked 12th and 16th in FG% and XP%, respectively.

For what it’s worth, he has connected on both chip-shot field goal attempts and all nine extra points this postseason.

In his playoff career, he has made all 13 field goal attempts, including 1-for-1 on attempts over 50 yards, a 53-yarder. (He’s gone 19-for-29 from 50-plus in 49 career regular season games.)

Super Bowl Series – Part 2: Jake Elliott@jake_elliott22 is looking for his 2nd Super Bowl ring on Sunday, winning his first in 2018 in Super Bowl 52 with Philly. He looks to help out in a highly-anticipated scoring battle vs. the Chiefs 🦅#NFLTwitter |

— Kicker Update (@kickerupdate) February 7, 2023

However, he did miss two extra points in 2017, including one in Philly’s Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. Believe it or not, only one other kicker has missed an extra point in the Super Bowl since 1990 — Stephen Gostkowski, who didn’t connect on two.

From a kickoff perspective, the Eagles ranked 10th in touchback percentage at 69.1%. However, they didn’t have a great coverage unit, having allowed the third-highest return average in the league (26.1).

When opposing teams kicked off to the Eagles, they took a touchback exactly 50% of the time — tied for the sixth-lowest frequency in the NFL. On those returns, they ranked a modest 18th in average yardage at 22.1.

Britain Covey and Boston Scott split those duties, with the latter having much more success. While Covey only averaged 20.6 yards on 10 returns, Scott averaged 27.1 on five more attempts. That puts Scott at sixth and Covey at 34th out of 41 returners with a minimum of 10 attempts. Some notes on their playoff returns:

  • Scott: 29-yard kick return against 49ers. Let ball go for two touchbacks against Giants.
  • Covey: Seven fair catches on punts, one went out of bounds and let another go

Boston Scott with a 66-yard kick return

— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) December 11, 2022

Their punt return team also graded out at right around the league average. Covey returned the second-most punts in the NFL with 33 (to go along with 18 fair catches) for a tolerable average of 9.3 yards, which ranked 13th out of 22 players with at least 10 returns. Not elite, but still an improvement over Jalen Reagor’s output both last year in Philly and this year in Minnesota.

Now, let’s get to the most interesting aspect of the Eagles' special teams.

Their punting was an abject disaster last week against the 49ers. One shank potentially hit the camera wire, but another got saved by a bogus personal foul. No matter how you slice it, Brett Kern had a rough day after a fairly productive outing against the Giants in the Divisional Round.

Overall, the Eagles graded out poorly punting, finishing with the league's second-lowest net average. Fortunately, they didn’t have to punt much in critical situations.

Also, they picked up Kern off the street for the final four games of the regular season and first two playoff games after losing starter Arryn Siposs to injury.

Kern punted 10 times in the regular season for an average of 40.8 yards. Only Eagles kicker Jake Elliott, who was forced into punting duty once, finished with a lower average. From a net perspective, Kern finished at 36.6 yards, beating only Jake Bailey among 35 actual punters. Siposs wasn’t great at 45.6 and 40.6, respectively — but those numbers are certainly superior to Kern's.

The latest reports suggest Siposs, who just came off IR, will be healthy enough to play in the Super Bowl. While that won’t make punting a strong suit, it will reduce the risk of the disastrous shanks we saw from Kern last week.

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Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams

Under Andy Reid, the Chiefs have fielded plenty of elite special teams units. From a DVOA perspective, Kansas City finished 22nd in 2012 — the season before Reid arrived. Then, in his first year, it skyrocketed to first and finished in the top-five in seven of his first nine seasons. They also only finished outside the top 10 once (17th in 2020) until this season, when they came in at No. 19.

So, what caused this drop-off? Two primary facets — the return game and kicker Harrison Butker’s struggles.

Let’s start with Butker.

His kickoffs were fine. Kansas City finished 12th with a touchback percentage of 66.33%. While the return unit struggled at times, allowing an average of 23.4 yards (24th), it certainly wasn’t disastrous.

However, the usually reliable Butker had his worst season as a pro. He connected on just 13-of-18 field goal attempts and went 38-for-41 on extra points. Of 34 kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals, he ranked 31st and 27th in FG% and XP%, respectively.

Keep in mind he did miss four games with an injury during the regular season. That forced the Chiefs to use two other kickers and even safety Justin Reid on extra points at one time.

Based purely on this season's postseason results, Butker seems to have found his footing. He has drilled all five field goals and extra points, including a pair from 50-plus.

In his playoff career, he has gone 20-for-23 on field goals (87%) — including 4-for-5 from 50-plus — and 49-for-52 on extra points (94.2%). Those closely resemble his overall career averages.

Butker also has plenty of experience kicking in pressure moments on big stages, which helps in a Super Bowl setting. Despite rating as one of the worst overall kicking teams in the league, I wouldn’t worry about Butker outside of a potential missed extra point, which we've seen throughout his career.

Chiefs take down the Bengals off this Harrison Butker FG.

Chiefs vs. Eagles in the Super Bowl. 👀

— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) January 30, 2023

When opponents kicked to the Chiefs, they had a 51.76% touchback percentage — seventh-lowest in the league, slightly higher than the Eagles.

On kicks it did return, Kansas City struggled with a meager 19.2-yard average. It finished the regular season as one of only four teams with a sub-20-yard average. Just 14-of-36 returns (38.9%) eclipsed 20 yards — only the Chargers had a lower percentage.

Isiah Pacheco returned 29 of those 36 in the regular season, with Skyy Moore having next highest with three returns (and a worse average of 16.7). Pacheco actually tied with Covey at exactly 20.6 yards on average — 34th out of 41 returners with at least 10 attempts.

The Chiefs had two fumbles on kickoff returns — more than 28 teams in the league. This was certainly not a strong suit for Kansas City.

The punt returns were more evenly distributed between Moore (14), Kadarius Toney (10), Mecole Hardman (six) and Justin Watson (five). Hardman had the highest average among those four at 9.2 — 0.1 yards lower than Covey, who ranked 13th out of 22 players with at least 10 returns.

Meanwhile, Watson finished at 7.8 yards per punt return, while Moore and Toney both averaged a paltry 6.1. Given their injury issues at wide receiver, I'm not sure who the Chiefs will roll with to field punts, and this may depend on the game state.

Regardless, it hasn't been an area of strength, so you could see an abundance of fair catches, similar to what I expect from Covey.

As you can see, the Chiefs struggled in the return game and had plenty of rough patches in the kicking department. Conversely, there were no such issues when it came to punting.

Tommy Townsend had a tremendous season. He finished second in the NFL with a 50.4 overall average and led all punters with a 45.6 net.


— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 30, 2023

Lastly, while Kansas City had an unusually sloppy special teams season, it did also get unlucky. Per Football Outsiders' Hidden Points metric, which measures events a team can't control, only the Broncos had worse luck than the Chiefs.

As an example, opponents made 100% of extra points and 92% of field goals. For reference, the overall season averages were 94.6% and 85%, respectively. The regression gods certainly owe the Chiefs a missed kick or two.

Special Teams Summary

Overall, with the experienced Elliott at kicker and Scott at returner, I’d rate the current Eagles special teams at 11th overall, assuming Siposs does return to punt. In comparison, with Butker seemingly back in business and Townsend's punting prowess, I rate the Chiefs at ninth.

It's a fairly evenly matched special teams battle.

I assume Covey will continue his recent trend of fair catching the majority of punts. Philly likely just wants to avoid any mistakes from their rookie returner or costly penalties that could harm the offense. You could say the same for Kansas City.

If only one team has to punt frequently, that probably spells doom for said squad, regardless. However, if this turns into more of a defensive battle on both sides, the Chiefs certainly have the punting edge. That could significantly swing field position in their favor. Meanwhile, the Eagles likely have a higher probability of breaking a game-changing return with Scott returning kicks.

Favorite Special Teams Prop

Jake Elliott Under 7.5 Kicker Points

First off, I was pleased to see that my kicker-guru colleague Nick Giffen agrees with this wager. Plus, maybe the Chiefs get that aforementioned overdue missed kick – or, even better, two.

Most importantly, I project a lower number in a game I expect to see more touchdowns than field goals due to an even greater aggression from an Eagles coaching staff that already loves to go for it on fourth downs. They also have a higher-than-average propensity to go for two.

For example, the Eagles will frequently attempt to draw teams offsides after a touchdown in order to utilize their near-automatic quarterback sneak from the one-yard line. It also wouldn't shock me to see the Eagles simply go for two at any point in the game after a touchdown.

Lastly, I bet the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. If I had to predict a final score, I'd go with a 30-24 Kansas City victory. That would put Elliott at six kicker points and under his total.

Pick: Jake Elliott Under 7.5 Kicking Points

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