One on the great things to handicap in the Super Bowl involves the speculation as to how the San Francisco 49ers might be able to do in the area of ball control, and whether Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs might be filling the air with footballs. There is the perception that both of these teams are pretty clear about what they want to accomplish and how they want to do it. Nonetheless it is one of the more intriguing matchups in recent “Big Game” history.
So who will put more passes in the air – Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers, who’s had no actual Super Bowl playoff experience but has gone through this process a couple of times as a member of the New England Patriots?
We’ll explore that.
Of course, Super Bowl 54 takes place on Sunday (Feb. 2) at 6:30 PM ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. At BetAnySports, you can watch the game on FOX and place wagers even after the kickoff using the state-of-the-art software from Sports Betting Ultra.
You can also get a ton of props, including this one:
MORE PASS COMPLETIONS – GAROPPOLO VS. MAHOMES
Garoppolo pass completions +6½ -150
Mahomes pass completions -6½ +120
Something that has to be taken very strongly into account is that Garoppolo threw only 27 passes combined in the two playoff games. He had only eight attempts against Green Bay in the NFC title game, and that constituted the fewest pass attempts in a post-season game since the 1973 season, when Bob Griese threw it six times against Oakland in the AFC title game and then seven in the Super Bowl against Minnesota.
It is obvious that San Francisco is going to try to run the ball first, if for no other reason than that the Niners are going to make Kansas City prove they can stop the run. And the numbers illustrate this; in the two playoff games, Kyle Shanahan’s offense ran the ball on 82.4% and 69.1% of its plays. Overall, San Francisco is a little below 52% in terms of its run play percentage. And that is second highest in the National Football League.
We don’t expect that the 49ers are going to call the same percentage of rushing plays in the Super Bowl as they did in the playoffs. But it is not unreasonable at all to expect that you’ll see something close to a 50-50 distribution.
Of course, there is a chance that number could get higher, depending on how the game is going. If, for example, San Francisco, which is a pretty good team in both halves, carries a solid lead at some point after halftime. Chewing up clock would be a priority. And against Green Bay and Minnesota, they had 49 runs just eight passes in the second half. And this season, the Chiefs have allowed 5.5 yards per rush attempt in the second halves of games.
We do, of course, allow for the prospect of the Chiefs loading up against the run, and that might indeed be a strong possibility. But Garoppolo has the ability to keep them honest. He has averaged 11.5 yards per attempt with 69% completions in play-action. So we do think they’ll sustain an extreme game plan in that regard.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, are a throw-first team, with a run play percentage that is at 38.6%. Their running game is not as reliable as that of the Niners – and it certainly isn’t the type that is going to control a game. So it’s not likely that KC is going to be the team engaged in running clock, even though Damien Williams isn’t exactly a stiff and LeSean McCoy isn’t half bad when he’s fresh. They perceive that they’ll have an advantage stretching the field against San Francisco.
Although we fully expect that Garoppolo will throw more here than he did in the two previous games, particularly if his team falls behind, we know that the 49ers don’t want to do that if they don’t have to. Mahomes will do what he does best. So I’m okay with laying the 6.5 here and grabbing the +120 price.
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