Last Week: 3-0
All Time Results: 116-107-2, +16.6 Units
The Best of Handicaps I’ve Heard so far for Super Bowl 54
Props I like for the big game include George Kittle Over Receiving Yards and Patrick Mahomes Over Rushing Yards. I heard great arguments for each of these. Allow me to give credit where it’s due to world-class handicapping pros: Diamond Dave Essler and Tommy-the-Hitman-the-Jet-Rodriguez. (Look’em up.) Each case makes a lot of sense. For the ladder, which comes from the Hitman, I’ll throw out two stats that support his take. 1.) The 49ers allow on average 57 rushing yards per game to mobile quarterbacks. 2.) Patrick Mahomes has averaged 53 yards rushing per game in the playoffs. We need about half of those totals for Mahomes to cash the Over here.
Since I didn’t come with those two bets, I’m not going to make them official plays here. My advice: If you find a handicapper making those picks, consider them a genius – because I agree with them!
In all seriousness, the echo-chamber of handicappers often leads to the same players making the same plays and the general public getting in late and getting the worst of the number. Meanwhile, the originators look for arbitrage opportunities. That’s no fun! That’s not in the spirit of the Super Bowl.
In the spirit of my cousin this morning, I decided not to just follow the wisdom of the crowd but get up before the sunrise and strive to innovate.
If I haven’t told you before my cousin is Kyle Shanahan, the Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers. We never lived in the same state or knew each other all that well, but it’s been pretty cool to see his journey. I remember his favorite rapper when he was in college at Texas was Lil’ Flip of Houston. He also really liked 50 Cent, whom he said circa the mid-2000s: “Has to be the best rapper right now”. He can be excused for that opinion. Lil Wayne had yet to drop the Dedication 2.
I thought it was funny when people were surprised to learn that Kyle named his son “Carter” partially out of homage to Lil’ Wayne, a.k.a Weezy F. Baby a.k.a. Bird Man, Jr. My question was – How could anyone under 40 name their kid “Carter” and not consider five of the most important and best-selling rap records this century, that also bear the name? Of course; it would be like naming your kid Bono, and thinking you came up with it.
Anyway, that just shows how people don’t really know coaches. They mostly go off looks. I told my brother Seth when I was visiting him back in Chicago this August, before the wedding of my dear sister Jevhon: We have insider knowledge on the 49ers. We know Kyle is good. Like his dad, the kid’s got skills. We’ve seen the system work for 30 years now.
By the middle of the year, I thought we had a great chance – getting in at 5-1 – but I’m kicking myself now not having a single ticket on the 49ers at 40/1 before the season. Honestly, nothing about this year surprised me. I know the work he puts in. I am confident that he and John Lynch – who I met as a ball boy for the Broncos back in 2007 – go about things the right way and don’t cut corners.
On a hot afternoon one August day in Dove Valley, Colorado, John Lynch once started a Soul Train to the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror” in the middle of the Denver Broncos equipment room. A dozen other players and staff joined in. I’ll tell ya for a 16-year old it was pretty damn inspiring. Think about it. That’s a 5-and-a-half-minute song. Grown men sang and danced and were merry for all that time for no reason other than to do it. Lynch kept the room the lit whole time, through every single outro. I imagine that same fire and electricity walk around with him everywhere he goes.
To steal a cliche from one of the great Heisman speeches of all-time, this run has been unbelievably believable. One more to go. Now, to the props!
Jimmy Garoppolo Passer Rating > Patrick Mahomes QB Rating (+115) -.25 Units
Passer Rating ≠ Ability
To have a profitable bet here, Garoppolo needs to have a higher passer rating in 46.5% of scenarios. I think the true odds are at worst 50/50 making this a great play.
Patrick Mahomes had a passer rating of 105 this year. Jimmy Garoppolo had a passer rating of 102. Mahomes was 7th in the league in this stat, Garoppolo, 8th.
There are a hundred reasons why that stat is flawed and the actual difference in their performance was much greater than that. None of that matters for this bet. If Jimmy G goes 8 for 10 with a touch, Mahomes might have to go 31 for 39 with 2 TDs to keep pace.
49ers Defense Back to Being Elite
People forget that for much of the season, the Niners statistically had one of the great pass defense seasons of all time. While admittedly they played some bad teams early in the year, I also think their defense is better right now than they have been at any point this season.
For one thing, the 49ers are healthier on defense than they have been all season. All 11 preferred Day-1 starters will be available.
Yes, San Francisco proved vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks this year. However, that didn’t always show up in their Passer Rating, which unlike QBR doesn’t care if you run for a touchdown or not. The three Quarterbacks that I would consider “mobile” which the Niners faced this year -(Russell Wilson twice, Kyler Murray twice & Lamar Jackson)- averaged a 92.8 Passer Rating against San Francisco. Decent, about league average – nothing like the great performances their other numbers would suggest, such as QBR.
Also, the span in which the 49ers regressed, especially against mobile Quarterbacks – Week 9 through Week 17 – came when the 49ers defense was the most depleted. Key defensive cogs like Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, and Jaquiski Tartt all missed significant time, amongst others.
Additionally, the 49ers had their Bye Week all the way back in Week 4. By the end of the year, the defense was running on fumes, which we saw in the 4th quarter against New Orleans in Week 14, Atlanta in Week 15 and Seattle in Week 17, where the 49ers only managed two stops in those three 4th quarters combined. With two Bye Weeks over the past month, the 49ers D will be ready to roll.
The Chiefs know that their weakness is rush defense. And they know that the 49ers’ strength is to ground and pound. My guess is they will sell out to stop the run, which I don’t think they will be able to do for the most part. When they do overcommit to stop the run, Garoppolo will have 15-20 throws with which I think he will be extremely efficient. Mahomes might end with 500 total yards, but I don’t think he should be the favorite to have the higher Passer Rating.
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