My favorite props for Super Bowl 55:
U10 Penalties (-115)
This is typically a good play in Super Bowls, as those in the know say that the league mandate that comes down to the officiating crew is to stay out of the way of the game. From a 2016 story on ESPN, NFL official and supervisor Jim Daopoulous acknowledged the playoff mindset for officiating crews: “Let them play football. Just like the players and coaches, you’re on the biggest stage you’ve ever been on. It’s a time that requires more concentration than you’ve ever had before because of the implications. By the time you get to the Super Bowl, you go in with the mindset that you want to make sure it’s a foul. You want to make the big calls and not ‘Mickey Mouse’ these guys. Let them play football.”
According to Gene Steratore, officials don’t swallow their whistles, “Two things happen. [Refs] really understand the magnitude of fouls. Usually that edict that I always passed to my crew resonates with them in the one-off games now where the message is (to) make the fouls big. I think the other thing that happens … the teams who have gotten to this point have probably played really well within the rules for the good portion of the season. So they may have a tendency to foul less as the playoffs move forward and their competition is equal. And they understand how punitive one penalty can be to the game, for their team.”
Through 12 playoff games in 2020, there have been just 98 penalties called – 8.2 penalties per game, which is the lowest average per playoff game since 2000. The Chiefs have committed just 10 penalties in two games, while the Bucs have committed 12 penalties through three playoff games.
Rob Gronkowski O30.5 Yards (-110)
Kansas City ranks 28 in the league in opposing TE yards allowed on the season. Gronk caught 6 balls for 102 yards in the Week 12 matchup, by far his best performance of the season in terms of yards. In the AFC Championship Game, Dawson Knox, who was targeted just 44 times in 12 games and caught 24 balls for 288 yards in 12 games, caught 6 balls for 42 yards. David Njoku caught 4 balls for 59 yards in the Chiefs’ matchup with the Browns, while Austin Hooper added 2 catches for 16 yards. Noah Fant caught 4 balls for 57 yards in Week 13, Mike Gesicki caught 5 balls for 65 yard and 2 TD’s in Week 14 and Hayden Hurst caught 5 balls for 47 yards in Week 16. Darren Waller caught 7 balls for 88 yards and 5 balls for 48 yards in his two matchups with the Chiefs as well.
Ultimately, in a Super Bowl matchup, I trust Brady to target Gronk more than twice and like Rob G to have a nice game here.
Pat Mahomes O19.5 Rush Yards (-110)
Mahomes enters this game dealing with turf toe and missing his two starting tackles from opening day facing a top 5 pass rush in the league. He’s definitely going to face more pressure than he’s used to and cleared this number in 4 of his final 5 starts in the regular season. Rodgers is known to stay in the pocket and/or bait opponents into going for the sack and finding a receiver open at the last second and unsurprisingly did not have a scramble last week, but Taylor Heinicke rushed 6 times for 46 yards against TB in the Wild Card round behind a bad Washington OL. The Saints had a top 5 pass rush in the league on the season, and Mahomes rushed 7 times for 37 yards in that game with a long of 24.
Side: Bucs +3.5
In terms of the side and total on this game, I lean to the Bucs and the hook at +3.5. Truly not to brag, but I am holding a +900 Bucs SB ticket from April (peak quarantine) that I placed after Gronk decided to return to provide some insight on why my props are more featured here as opposed to a side. That said, the Bucs have Brady on their side with a stable of weapons at receiver, Gronk and two strong running backs against a middle of the pack Chiefs defense that isn’t great at defending the run. They also have an elite defense that is getting two key players (Jamel Dean and Vita Vea) back who did not play against KC in the first matchup, with a pass rush that should be able to make Mahomes uncomfortable in the pocket down two LT’s with a guy playing T who got his teeth kicked in against Von Miller in the 2015 Super Bowl. Tampa’s defense ranks 2 in the league in 4th quarter defense with just 61 points on the season and led the league in 4th quarter sacks with 24 – the next closes NFL team finished with just 18. It’s a difficult decision to pull the trigger against Brady or Mahomes, so if you can get a field goal plus, a Hall of Fame QB and the superior defense in a winner takes all scenario, the Bucs look to be the play.