Super Bowl LIV is now set. In two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Francisco 49ers to determine who will win the NFL championship this season. And this year, we didn’t even have to wait for the end of both games to find out who – if anyone – was the early favorite.
Once the 49ers showed they were firmly in control of the NFC Championship and dominating the Green Bay Packers, oddsmakers wasted little time getting their initial lines out. By 8:14 pm ET, more than an hour before San Francisco received the George Halas Trophy, the Westgate SuperBook had its initial line out. They made the Chiefs and Niners a pick’em with the total points at 52.
“In the first 15 minutes of #SBLIV betting, 68% of the tickets are on the #Chiefs,” tweeted Jay Kornegay, the SuperBook’s vice president of race and sports, a few minutes later.
An hour later, the Chiefs moved to a 1-point favorite at the SuperBook. Two hours later, the total had climbed to 53.5.
William Hill released its initial line shortly after 8:30 pm ET, also as a pick’em. The book set the total at 51.5. Within the first 30 minutes, two-thirds of the bets and 87 percent of the handle were on Kansas City.
At DraftKings and FanDuel, the Chiefs started out as 1.5-point favorites. DraftKings had the total at 53, while FanDuel went a half-point lower.
Super Bowl Features Strength vs. Strength
When the two teams meet at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Feb. 2, it will be a Super Bowl matchup of two of the top scoring offenses in the NFL this season.
Both teams also feature stingy defenses, as both the Chiefs and Niners averaged giving up less than 20 points per game. However, Kansas City’s defense averaged giving up nearly 70 more yards per game than San Francisco, which ranked second in the NFL with 281.8 yards per game.
Kansas City was also susceptible to the run, giving up 2,051 yards on the ground. That ranked 26th in the league. But the Chiefs sure didn’t look like that on Sunday when they held Tennessee running back and league rushing champion Derrick Henry to just 69 yards on 19 carries – that came after he ran for 377 yards to lead the Titans to upsets of both New England and Baltimore in the previous two weeks.
‘Cause we’re the best defense in the world right now,” a confident Frank Clark, a defensive end, told the NFL Network on Sunday. “They come in here, they say they’re gonna run the ball. I know exactly what they were gonna do, you watching that film, you know what they’re going to do.”
Thanks to their prolific offense powered by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs overcame deficits of 24-0 and 10-0 in this year’s playoff games to make their first Super Bowl in a half century. However, the 49ers may have the defense, led by rookie lineman Nick Bosa and veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, that can neutralize the Chiefs attack.
San Francisco had the league’s best pass defense, allowing just 2,707 yards through the air. Despite missing two regular-season games with a dislocated kneecap, Kansas City’s Mahomes still finished 10th in the NFL with 4,031 passing yards.
While both teams had strong regular seasons and earned byes in the NFL Playoffs, oddsmakers only expected Kansas City to make it this far.
Last January, William Hill listed the Chiefs at +700 to win the NFL title. In the regular season, those odds became as short as +400 in late September before they ballooned to +1500 after Mahomes suffered his knee injury. By the end of the regular season, Kansas City was back to +450.
San Francisco, which went just 4-12 in 2018, started off at +3000 at William Hill a year ago. In August, those odds grew to +4000. By the end of the regular season, though, the 49ers became the second choice at +300.