By the time Super Bowl LIV kicks off, we’re all going to have Super Bowl fatigue. Because all of us have betting interest, our tolerance levels are a little bit higher than most, but we’ve got two weeks of the media dissecting every minute detail of the big game that will be down at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL.
Some new blood sure is nice, though. The 49ers haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1994 and haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2012, when they lost SB XLVII 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens in the Har-bowl. The 49ers were -4.5 in that game with a total of 48.
This is only the third Super Bowl appearance in Chiefs history. The Chiefs did win the AFC Championship as the Dallas Texans in 1962 before moving operations to KC. They appeared in the 1966 Super Bowl and lost, but won Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings in 1970. It has been a long time since Hank Stram’s team went to Tulane Stadium and took down the title with the help of MVP Len Dawson and three early field goals from Jan Stenerud.
Let’s take a look at the Opening Line Report for Super Bowl LIV and talk about the risk management process as we await the big game on February 2.
101/102 San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5, 54) – Let’s get the early particulars out of the way. It was pretty clear what our Super Bowl LIV matchup was going to be before the clock read 00:00 in both championship games. The Chiefs led 21-17 at halftime, but it really felt like they were in control for most of the game and eventually won 35-24.
The 49ers dominated the Packers and that 37-20 final score is not at all indicative of how that game played out. San Francisco led 27-0 at halftime and gave up some cosmetic points in the second half. Lines were popping up before the ink was dry on the game recaps.
Most of the market opened up with Kansas City listed as a pick ‘em or -1. Early money on the Chiefs has bumped the line up to -1.5 and even as high as -2.5 in the offshore marketplace. The total is where we saw immediate sharper action to drive the line up from 52 to 53.5 and even 54. There are some rogue 54.5s out there in the offshore market well in advance of the game.
More money is bet on this game than any other singular event, so these early line moves are far from the only ones that we will see. Bettors will take their whacks at the initial number and then kind of sit and wait for a little while. The waiting period is so that limits can increase on the game. At that point, we’ll start to see more market manipulation. With Kansas City opening a pick ‘em at some places, that essentially became a money line play at -110. We will definitely see money line plays at plus money on the Niners.
The general rule in the Super Bowl is that the public lays the points with the favorite and/or takes the money line on the underdog. With a line this small, bettors will generally be put to a decision to do one or the other. Usually, we end up seeing a depressed money line for the Super Bowl, meaning the underdog money line is lower than it would be with the corresponding spread. That is one form of risk management for this game.
For the risk managers and the bookmakers, the Super Bowl is a long grind. You don’t want to overreact to any movement or set of movements because there are 14 days worth of bets on this game. The vast majority of the money will come in on game day, so you have to respect the early action, but you do not want to move the line too much in case you get thrown a curveball over the betting period.
This won’t be the most exciting Super Bowl from a spread standpoint. This line is extremely unlikely to make it all the way up to -3, where sharp money would undoubtedly take the 49ers. This line is likely to bounce around between 1.5 and 2.5 as we go throughout the process. Each increase in the line will bring in more underdog money line bets on the 49ers. The books should get pretty good two-way action here when all is said and done. As a general rule, the best outcome for the books is a blowout. We’ll see if we get one here.
What we do get here is the best offense in the NFL against arguably the best defense in the NFL. The Chiefs look to be unstoppable with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, but nobody gets better pressure with the front four than San Francisco, so the 49ers can get in the backfield and can do so while not losing coverage. This is “Defense Wins Championships” vs. “The Analytics of Modern-Day Football”. The 49ers also have that run-heavy style, but few teams are more efficient with the run than the Niners. As we know, a big knock on Kansas City going into the AFC Championship Game was that run defense. Derrick Henry was largely shut down, but Henry had also run the ball 96 times in the previous three games. Everybody will be rested with two weeks off prior to this one.
Ultimately, this is the Super Bowl that we wanted based on the teams that were left. The 49ers defense looks so much different with better health and the Chiefs offense is dynamic and the defense has greatly improved.
As far as the line activity, it will be pretty quiet for the most part now. We’ll see nibbles and waves of activity, but many sharps will tell you that this is the absolute sharpest line of the season and there really aren’t any edges one way or another on the spread. The total seems to be fair game this time around, but the side sure does look pretty tight. At least we’ll have plenty of prop bets to keep us busy and we will be able to talk about those here at BangTheBook.com and on BangTheBook Radio.
Thank you for following along with the Opening Line Report this season. We’ll be back with this feature article for Week 1 of the 2020 season!