Super Bowl 57 is finally here! The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will compete to see who hoists the Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, Arizona. By now you should be finishing up getting your last few prop bets on the books and have already completed a supermarket run to make sure you have everything you need to eat and drink your way through football's biggest day.
What an awesome matchup we have in the big game. The Eagles and Chiefs both went 14-3 in the regular season. Each team has elite talent on both sides of the ball and with two weeks to prepare, we should get the finest level of competition either squad can offer. Most sportsbooks have set the line with the Eagles as -1.5 point favorites and a game total of 51 points. Let's see if we can find a gambling edge in our final football preview of the season.
Let's Talk Injuries. Will Any Major Health Issues Impact This Game? Has Mahomes' Ankle Healed?
With two weeks off since the conference championships, both teams should come into the Super Bowl with some well-deserved rest. The Chiefs receiving corps was incredibly banged up by the second-half of their game against the Bengals, limiting the offense to fourth and fifth string options as the game went along. However, the injury report shows good news for Kansas City, with receivers Kadarious Toney and JuJu Smith-Schuster both listed as full participants despite missing the end of the AFC Championship. Only receiver Mecole Hardman has been ruled out for the game.
On defense the Chiefs also suffered a few injuries in their last game, but slot corner L'Jarius Sneed was listed as a full participant in practice, a very important sign for KC if they hope to keep the Eagles' impressive receivers in check.
Finally, reports on the health of quarterback Patrick Mahomes seem positive, after Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain in the divisional round against Jacksonville. While the injury clearly bothered him against Cincinnati, reports are that the extra week off seems to have helped ahead of the championship. Fresh off winning his second MVP award, things should be all systems go for Patrick Mahomes.
The Eagles are heading into the Super Bowl in fairly good health, with Lane Johnson and Landon Dickerson the only critical players listed as limited participants in practice. Both are expected to start along the Eagles offensive line, which has been a major part of the team's success all season.
Moving to the Game's Point Total, 51 Seems Really High Compared to What We've Seen Across the League This Year.
51 points is a very high number, especially with scoring dipping in the NFL to the second lowest per-game total of the last 13 seasons. The league is averaging just under 44 points per contest, a full touchdown below the line set by Vegas for the Super Bowl.
However, we are talking about the two highest scoring teams in the league. Both have averaged more than 28 points per game this year, with the Eagles scoring more than 30 points in both their playoff games and the Chiefs averaging 25 points in their two playoff wins.
The Eagles defense, led by their historic pass rush, held opponents to nearly a field goal less per game than the Chiefs. Kansas City did finish with a 14-3 record, despite playing statistically the toughest schedule in the NFL and in a division with some of the most potent offensive talents.
Both teams are built to play from ahead, forcing their opponents into obvious passing situations and then feasting on quarterbacks, with the two highest sack totals in the league. While it is easy to get seduced by the names on offense like Mahomes, Hurts, A.J. Brown and Travis Kelce, defensive guys like Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick very well could leave just as big an impact on this game.
Both public and sharp bettors are putting their money on the offenses, with 56 percent of the bets and 62 percent of the money coming in on the over. But bettors beware, because the last four Super Bowls, including both that the Chiefs played in, went under the listed point total.
Let's Talk About the Point Spread. With the Line Set at Only 1.5 Points, Bookmakers Must Be Expecting a Close Game, Right?
The Eagles are just -1.5 point favorites, tied for the smallest spread in the last 7 Super Bowls with when the Chiefs were a -1.5 favorite against the 49ers in Super Bowl 54.
It shows how evenly matched Vegas believes these teams are, not only with identical regular season records and a point differential within a touchdown of each other, but also from a matchup perspective.
The biggest statistical edge seems to be the turnover differential. Philadelphia finished the season with a +8 turnover margin, while the Chiefs ended up a disappointing -3. However in the playoffs the margin has been much closer. Kansas City has forced four turnovers compared to committing just one turnover of their own. The Eagles defense has also forced four turnovers while their offense is yet to commit one.
It's hard to find a big edge in this game, which is why the spread remains so close. If I had to boil it down to a critical unit matchup I will be watching, I would pay extra attention to how the Eagles offensive line holds up against the Chiefs defensive line.
While the Kansas City offense has allowed the third fewest sacks of any team in the league, the Eagles haven't had quite the same success protecting Jalen Hurts. They must pass protect at an elite level on Sunday. In addition, the Eagles top-4 rushing offense will also have their hands full with a stout K.C. run defense.
If Jason Kelce and company can dominate the line of scrimmage and impose their will against Chris Jones and Carlos Dunlap, allowing the Eagles to convert a plethora of short yardage situations, then the entire Philadelphia offense will open up. However, if the Chiefs can perform like they did in their last game when they sacked Joe Burrow five times and held the Bengals to just 71 rushing yards, the entire Eagles game plan may come unglued.
Right now there is virtually no discrepancy between public and sharp bettors, with both leaning toward the favorited Eagles. Philadelphia is receiving about 60 percent of both the total wagers and money against the spread.
So How Does Super Bowl LVII End and Where Should We Place Our Money?
This is the million-dollar question. The real answer is that lines on major sporting events, which get so much action placed on them, are incredibly precise. It's hard to find an edge, so in the playoffs I have had my best success making 7-point teaser bets. While the odds of return are smaller with teasers, you allow yourself more wiggle room to account for all the crazy things that can happen in a Super Bowl.
I do expect a close game, so with that in mind, my favorite bet for this Super Bowl is a teaser that adjusts the Chiefs to +8.5 and the total under 58 points. I can picture a host of different outcomes for this game, but almost all of them finish within a touchdown and involve multiple long drives which shorten the game and keep the total within reason. This will be my largest bet of the Super Bowl and admittedly helps me hedge a future bet I placed on the Chiefs to win it all a few weeks ago.
I will also place a medium sized bet on Kansas City +1.5. When two teams are as evenly matched as I believe these are, your best bet is to take the underdog with the points. Plus, the Chiefs have Super Bowl experience that the Eagles lack, along with a better coach and quarterback than their opponent. In the end I think those elements will help lead the Chiefs to a 27-20 win in Super Bowl 57.
MORE: From the Coin Toss to Safety Odds: Our Five Favorite Super Bowl LVII Prop Bets
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