NFL expert Joshua Jones (@JoshuapsJones) oversees Sunday night's Super Bowl from Tampa.
Super Bowl LV: Best bet for Sunday night's showpiece in Tampa
Here we are. After 256 regular season games, 12 play-off games and (somehow) no cancellations, we’ve arrived at the Raymond James stadium for Super Bowl LV.
Last season’s champions, the Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes, travel down to Florida to take on the omnipresent Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their own backyard.
Gary Lineker famously once said ‘Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win’. I think the same applies to the NFL.
American Football is a simple game; 32 teams chase the Lombardi Trophy for five months and at the end, Tom Brady is there no matter what.
TB12 will play in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday night, in his first season in Tampa, having led the Bucs to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2002.
Such is the greatness of Brady that if he was to lose this one, he would have as many Super Bowl losses (four) as any other QB has Super Bowl wins – but then he’s got six wins to go with it too.
On the other side is Patrick Mahomes. Already a one-time Super Bowl Champion, the Chiefs QB is looking to be the first to win back-to-back championships since his counterpart did it in the 2003 & 2004 seasons.
It’s part of the reason why this game feels like a passing of the torch from one generational talent to the other. At 43 years old this could be Brady’s final hurrah in the big game – the end to a 20 year legacy built on unparalleled success – but 25-year-old Mahomes feels as though he’s only just getting started with his.
Last season’s Super Bowl MVP was as irresistible to watch as ever against the Buffalo Bills a fortnight ago, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns on 38 attempts.
After falling behind 9-0 halfway through the first quarter Showtime didn’t look fazed in the slightest, leading his team on three consecutive touchdown drives before half-time.
It was the fourth time in five postseason games that the Chiefs came back from a deficit of at least 9 points to win by 10 points or more.
It’s that sort of explosive scoring that should really worry the ‘run-first’ Buccaneers, no matter how many weapons they have on offense.
Their tendency to hand the ball off on early downs, letting Fournette and Jones run into walls, only to need Brady to salvage the drive on 3rd and long time after time is a major weakness.
It’s something they should (but probably won’t) move away from here, as they’ll look to keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands as much as possible.
I imagine that was their game plan when these two met earlier in the season, before the Chiefs raced out to a 17-0 lead inside the first quarter thanks to Tyreek Hill’s domination of a single-coverage matchup with CB Carlton Davis.
The wideout had seven catches for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns in the opening 15 alone, effectively putting the game to bed before the Bucs had really got going.
Its likely defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will have a plan to stop his corner being so exposed – likely meaning a safety always has an eye on the matchup – which could open up the middle for Kansas City’s other major weapon, Travis Kelce.
The 6ft 5 in behemoth has been nothing short of incredible over the last couple of months, cementing himself as the number one tight end in the league and as arguably one of the best outright receivers in the league too.
It’s why he’s my first, and favourite, play of Super Bowl LV. Anyone that’s spoken to me about the game in the past couple of weeks will know how much I like this play.
Back Travis Kelce 100+ Receiving Yards and 1+ Anytime Touchdown at 11/4 with SkyBet (RequestABet).
This is one I think was priced up a couple of weeks ago when Kelce’s yardage line was lower and the price on him scoring a TD was higher. As it stands, his receiving line is as high as 98.5 and the price on him to score is as short as 4/7.
If you were to combine the two selections in a Same Game Multi at Paddy Power you’d get less than 8/5, so 11/4 for an extra yard feels like sublime value.
He’s passed 100 yards in seven of his last 10 games, and has nine touchdowns in that time.
The Chiefs also have major gaps on the offensive line, which will see Mahomes having to get rid of the ball earlier, and that should benefit Kelce over the middle.
Elsewhere, I think if Sammy Watkins is fit enough to start he could have a really nice game. In their last meeting, it was his presence that allowed Hill to get so many single coverage opportunities and I think it could go the other way here.
In the playoff games he’s played, Watkins has been absolutely phenomenal. In the past two seasons, he’s gone from averaging 54.2 yards per game in the regular season to 92.8 in the postseason.
His receiving yards line is currently set at 36.5 – a mark he’s passed in 6 of 9 games this season – and it’s one I’ll definitely be taking if he suits up for the game. That’s 20/23 at William Hill.
On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers have so many offensive weapons that it’s difficult to pinpoint which one will have the big game.
Last week it was Chris Godwin, the week before it was Cameron Brate, before that it was Mike Evans and before that it was Antonio Brown.
With so much potential for scoring on both sides, and the fact that this is the last NFL game we’ll get for about 7 months, it feels rude not to take a chance on a bit of a long shot.
I’ve spent a while scouring through SkyBet’s RABs and this is the one that stands out most to me; R.Gronkowski, T.Kelce & M.Evans & 1+ Anytime Touchdown Each, P.Mahomes 1+ Rushing Touchdowns at 50/1.
As far as picking a result in this one, I’d lean towards the Chiefs. I won’t be backing anything on the spread or totals though. The lines have been up for so long that there’s no value to be had there anymore.
It has been cemented at Chiefs -3 for about 10 days. 3 is such a key number in football (more games are won by 3 points than any other margin) that the books now daren’t move it either side. Any higher and the sharps hammer Bucs +3.5, any lower and the sharps take Chiefs -2.5 to the house.
If you’re staying up for this one, best of luck with your bets and let’s hope for a great game!