Last Week: 3-0
All Time Results: 116-107-2, +16.6 Units
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers Under 26.5 Points 1st Half – .1 Units
2nd Half Higher Scoring than 1st Half (-140) – .14 Units
There is a reason they call it the big game. It’s a long Sunday afternoon at the team hotel preparing for the three hours that will define your life.
The additional gravity of the moment mandates that teams take an atypical approach on offense compared to an average NFL game. Best to keep it close to the vest early is the credo. As they say, you can’t win a Super Bowl in the 1st Half, but you can lose it. Why expose your quarterback to the possibility of making a devastating mistake that will affect his confidence for the rest of the game? Instead, most teams opt to ease into the game, gage the opposition, and slowly break out into more adventurous plays later on.
The numbers back up the theory. Over 53 Super Bowls, the average score in the 1st half is 21.5 points. The second half comparatively averages 3.4 more points, 24.7 points.
If the true genesis of this differential is nerves, one could argue that that differential should have increased in recent years – as the audience has increased, and the ramification of social media magnifies any particular moment.
Again, the numbers back this up. Since 2000, 1st Halves in the Pro Football Championship (I think that’s what I’m supposed to call the Super Bowl) have been more than a full touchdown less than the 2nd half: 20.3 points in the 1st Half vs. 27.4 points in the 2nd half.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers Under 9.5 Points 1st Quarter (+130) – .1 Units
In this specific game, I think there are strong reasons why this trend of lower-scoring early in the game will continue.
Jimmy Garropolo has thrown 27 passes in his 2 career playoff games. For comparison, Josh McCown threw 24 times coming in as relief for Carson Wentz when the Eagles hosted the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round this year. While not a demerit in any way against Garropolo’s skills, the 49ers‘ preference to run the ball is clear. With the Chiefs a bottom 5 team in Rush Defense, according to Football Outsiders, I expect the 49ers to make a point to ground-and-pound early, hoping to shorten the game and limit Patrick Mahomes opportunities.
For their part, Kansas City has scored 10 points combined over their last 3 first quarters, all home games. Patrick Mahomes has taken off in 2nd quarters after he has had an opportunity to read the defensive strategy and find its weakness. Last week, when he saw the Titans rush 3 and drop everybody back in man coverage, he strolled toward the sideline hesitated to freeze the Spy, and broke off one of the great runs in post-season history. I don’t think he makes that play in the 1st quarter.
Over 53 Super Bowls, the first quarter has only averaged 8 points per game. Compare this to an average of 14 points combined in the 2nd and 4th quarters, and 10 points combined on average in the 3rd quarter. Whether it be nerves or tentativeness, we have enough data that clearly points in this direction to make a wager. Keeping my bets low, however. With still 10 days before the game, I want to keep some bullets in the chamber as everyone breaks this game down in a million ways.
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