The NFL has done it. The league has made it all the way through the season with no game cancellations and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow features the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Super Bowl LV will mark the first time that a team has played the Super Bowl in a true home setting in its own stadium.
Whether or not that has a huge impact on the line is up for some debate. Limited availability for tickets and exorbitant costs are not really going to make this anything resembling home field advantage for the Buccaneers, but they will at least be around their homes and families.
The media responsibilities that come along with the Super Bowl will be a lot different this season with a lot more Zoom calls and other alternative forms of communication, so this will be a different experience for all involved, even though the Chiefs just went through this last season and Tom Brady has been through it a ton.
There is a lot to unpack surrounding the game and we’ll have you fully covered here at ATS.io and also on ATS Radio, our daily sports betting podcast. By the time this game goes off, you’ll have a full collection of prop bets, wagers on the side and total, and a whole lot more, so you might as well be as informed as possible. That’s what we’ll try to do over the next 13 days.
A good starting point is our final Opening Line Report the season. There may be a lot to unpack about the game, but the line is about as uncomplicated as possible.
Here is the NFL Opening Line Report for Super Bowl LV:
Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 56) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Does this line look familiar to you? It should. These two teams played back on November 29. The line was KC -3 with a total of 54 at open. The side fluctuated between 3.5 and got as high as 4 throughout the week. The total took over money and got bet up to as high as 57 before closing mostly 56 across the board.
So, that’s basically what we’ve got here. Opening lines were either KC -3 (-120) or KC -3.5 across most of the market. The total took some immediate under money to get bet down to 56 after opening 57.
In other words, a great opening set of numbers from the sportsbooks.
My good friend Dave Sharapan, who has spent most of his life working in sportsbooks and risk rooms, has told me often that you want to see the first bet on the underdog. You want to know that people are willing to bet the dog because it gives you a good idea of what the top of the market is going to be. You know that you can always get underdog money at 3.5 if need be. That is really valuable information with a game that will be posted for two weeks time and will remain dormant for a long time in that span.
This year, COVID-19 throws an extra wrinkle in the game. Two weeks is a long time for the league to go without any positive COVID tests. It is a long time for these players to go adhering to the protocols and taking care of their affairs. Normally, we’d only worry about injuries suffered in practice. Now, we get this damn virus to worry about. The line generally moves on Sunday night and into Monday, but then won’t start to move again until game week. COVID could potentially change all of that.
The first game ended 27-24, but the final score only told a portion of the story. The Buccaneers scored 14 fourth quarter points to get the cover. Kansas City outgained Tampa Bay 543-417 and had the ball for nearly 37 minutes. Tampa Bay had 148 of their yards on two fourth quarter touchdown drives over 18 plays. The box score will read that Tampa Bay had 7.6 yards per play to Kansas City’s 7.5.
What the box score won’t tell you is that the Chiefs were dominant for most of that game. Patrick Mahomes threw for 462 yards and only 50 of those passing yards came on Kansas City’s last four drives. In other words, Mahomes had a monster 2.5 quarters and then the Chiefs put it in cruise control. That was something we saw from them a lot this season.
Tampa Bay did move the ball effectively in the game, especially in early-down situations, but put some cosmetic touches on the scoreboard once the Chiefs stopped playing and once the officials starting throwing offensive holding flags that set Kansas City back on some of their second half drives.
Speaking of holding, the Chiefs offensive line is in shambles because of injuries right now. All-Pro left tackle Eric Fisher was the latest casualty, as he suffered a torn Achilles in the win over the Bills. With Mitchell Schwartz already out, the Chiefs will shift Mike Remmers to LT, start two seventh-round draft picks, a Pittsburgh release, and an undrafted free agent.
The Bucs got a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game and it was basically what saved them from losing the game as Tom Brady was turning the football over. It will be interesting to see how much attention that gets from bettors as the week goes along. Perhaps the move off of 3.5 is our first tell.
By the time this game kicks off, we’ll all have Super Bowl overkill and just want the game to be played. You’ve got two weeks to stare at a line that probably won’t go to 2.5, but may not go back to 3.5 market-wide. It’s going to sit there. There won’t be much to report on the line.
One thing we can report on, however, is the money line. That is ALWAYS the most interesting of the basic lines for the game. Generally speaking, bettors will take the favorite on the spread or the money line underdog. The spread really hasn’t come into play much in the Super Bowl at all. What we mean by that is the favorite doesn’t win outright and fail to cover the spread very often. In fact, the last time it happened was Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. Pittsburgh was -7 and won by four. Super Bowl XXIX in 2005 and Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 both went that way, as the Patriots won twice, but failed to cover both times.
As a result, bettors usually just lay the favorite or take the underdog on the money line. The underdog obviously covers all spreads with an outright win. It is potentially worth noting that the favorite has won the last two Super Bowls and three of the last four, but the underdog had won five straight prior to that and eight of nine.
Money line wagering will be a lot more prevalent with this Super Bowl with that flat line of 3, so you’ll want to watch those prices like a hawk over the next two weeks.
We’ll have all kinds of Super Bowl coverage, including prop bets for both teams and the game, novelty prop bets, and a whole lot more. Thanks for hanging out with us this NFL season and I promise we’ll have all kinds of helpful handicapping info for the big game.