One thing to keep in mind when thinking about prop picks for the Super Bowl is how the oddsmakers tend to prey on human psychology to their benefit. We want to be optimistic; we want to see points. But, generally speaking, we end up seeing fewer points in NFL games than the betting public wants.
In the 2022 season, for instance, the under on game lines hit a whopping 56.1% of the time. The line for Sunday's game between the Eagles and Chiefs has, naturally, ticked up a smidge, from a 50.5 opening line to 51.0, and hey, I get it: These are two awesome offenses. The Chiefs led the league in points per game, while the Eagles were third.
But, the under has hit in six of both the Eagles and Chiefs past 10 games, including all four playoff games they've played. For the Eagles, that's at least partially because their suffocating defense has allowed just 14 points in the playoffs, so they haven't had to pour it on offensively. Still, the trends match up with the season-long, league-wide trends.
And, for what it's worth, the under has hit in four straight Super Bowls – though that evens out to five and five apiece over the past decade, so there's a bit of an arbitrary cutoff there. However, the Chiefs have played in two Super Bowls with Patrick Mahomes in that span, and the total for those two games went under by three and 16 points.
None of this means the under for the game is a slam dunk, of course. A 56% edge for unders over a season is a pretty substantial result, but it's still only marginally better than a coin flip. The people making these lines know what they're doing, after all. This one could turn into a shootout of historic proportions, and I wouldn't be surprised. But, I also would not be at all surprised if there was less offense in this game than we're expecting. That's been the trend lately.
Here are some of the props I'll be playing this weekend:
Jalen Hurts Yards of First Completion over 7.5
I'm not just doing this because Hurts hit on a 40-yarder to Devonta Smith for his first completion last week. This is another one where the trend shows a clear lean – 11 of Hurts' 17 first completions went for 8 or more yards. I went through and watched all of Hurts' early-game throws, and while the Eagles don't necessarily go deep every time, Hurts benefits here in the same ways he benefits throughout the game, from an incredibly skilled group of playmakers who are adept at making plays with the ball in their hands. This is a tough one because you only get one crack at it, but with 61% of Hurts' completions this season going for at least 8 yards, the odds are in your favor.
Travis Kelce First Touchdown Scorer +550
Here's another one where you only get one crack at it, and that's always tough – there's a 50-50 chance the Chiefs won't even get the ball first, which could wipe out your bet before Kelce even gets a chance. However, there's a reason he has the best odds for this one and for anytime TD scorer. Kelce has scored in five straight playoff games and seven of his past eight (and nine of his past 11, and 10 of his past 13, and … well, you get the point). Kelce is the focal point of this Chiefs offense, and while it's always tough to pick one player against the field, I agree with Dan Schneier that Kelce is likely to find success against this defense.
Jalen Hurts over 31.5 pass attempts
Hurts hasn't come close to this one yet in the playoffs, having attempted 24 and 25 passes in the first two games. However, something tells me the Chiefs are going to manage to keep it quite a bit closer than either the Giants or 49ers did. Hurts only threw more than 32 passes in six of his 17 games to date, however, three of those came in his final four games of the regular season – and he got to 31 in a 26-point win over the Cardinals in the other. There was a trend toward trusting Hurts more as a passer in the second half of the season, and the Chiefs should be able to keep this game close enough that we'll see the same here.
Isiah Pacheco over 16.5 receiving yards
I'm having a tough time figuring out how to project Pacheco's role in this one, because he was surprisingly involved in all facets of the game in the AFC Championship, playing a career-high 57% of the snaps. Prior to that game, Jerick McKinnon had played at least 65% of the snaps in each of the team's four prior playoff games. Maybe there was something about the Bengals matchup that made them like Pacheco's skill set more than McKinnon's, or maybe Pacheco just leveled up in a big spot and can be trusted as the team's primary back moving forward. I'm certainly skeptical that it'll stick, and against a team with the kind of pass rush the Eagles can bring, the Chiefs may opt for the steadier hand in McKinnon to serve as Mahomes' safety valve. However, 16.5 yards just isn't a particularly high bar to clear, so even if Pacheco reverts to his previous role, it probably only takes a couple of targets to get there. It feels pretty safe.
Isiah Pacheco Yards of Longest Rush under 13.5
This one feels less safe. Pacheco is a dynamic athlete who averaged a very strong 4.9 yards per carry for the Chiefs as a rookie, but he wasn't really a home run hitter despite his impressive long speed. Pacheco has had just nine carries go for more than 13 yards out of 192 total – 4.7%, ranking 31st out of 47 players with at least 100 carries. It only takes him finding one crease, and 13.5 yards isn't asking very much, but that hasn't really been a part of his game.