The Super Bowl is the most popular sporting event in the world, and as such, there isn't always a ton of value in wagering on the most popular bets (side, total, moneyline). Using our PFF Greenline tool, this is what we see, as we're less than a point off both the side and total. Markets tend toward efficiency, and with more money bet on the big game than any other game in the entire year, this isn't surprising. Additionally, unlike a season ago, this number is not anywhere close to a key number like three, sitting at a mostly dead -1/-1.5.
There's good reason for that: A.) The game is lined within a point or two of a pick 'em and B.) The total is in the mid-50s. Both the San Francisco 49ers (seventh) and the Kansas City Chiefs (second) are in the top 10 in terms of expected points added per play (expected points added measures how much a play changes the number of points the offense should expect to score. It is a measure of both efficiency and explosiveness). When looking at just passing plays, both teams are in the top four; when the Chiefs drop back to pass they are the best in the league at generating expected points (0.27 per play), and they do so at a rate twice as good as the Niners (0.14).
So, what should a bettor do leading up to the game this Sunday in Miami? While we don't have an official stance on the side or total in this game, we'll argue for both sides of each bet and add a few props to our list.
San Francisco (George Chahrouri): All positions being equal, the 49ers are the better team. Of course, the only issue is that Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the entire league at a position that is by far the most important. That being said, we should not sleep on Jimmy G and the 49ers' passing offense.
Garoppolo ranks eighth in PFF grade among quarterbacks since Emmanuel Sanders came to town, and the 49ers' passing offense has plenty of weapons for Kyle Shanahan to deploy — George Kittle earned the best grade of any single player this season and has broken more tackles than any other wide receiver or tight end over the last two seasons, while rookie phenom Deebo Samuel is gaining 8.5 yards after the catch per reception, the second-best mark for a rookie this decade. The San Francisco passing attack looks to get its playmakers in space with quick, short throws, and it is working too, as the 49ers average 6.6 yards after the catch per reception, which leads the NFL, while the Chiefs allow 6.1 (29th).
The big issue against San Francisco is that we just don't know a whole lot about Jimmy Garoppolo, especially when playing from behind. The small sample we have is encouraging, however, as Garoppolo averaged a league-best 9.1 yards per pass attempt and had a 115.7 passer rating (second) when losing during the regular season, and the team showed that they can score regardless of the run game in the 48-46 victory in New Orleans when they fell down 20-7 before storming back. Garoppolo has yet to take a single dropback in these playoffs where his team was behind on the scoreboard, but the absence of evidence does not mean he won't be ready to execute the brilliant Kyle Shanahan offense to perfection should that situation arise on Sunday afternoon.