SB Props – MVP Best Bets

Super Bowl 54 Prop Resources | Super Bowl 54 Betting Update

Super Bowl 54 MVP Best Bet Predictions

Now that the Super Bowl matchup has been set, and the Chiefs/49ers matchup is one that most in this industry would prefer to see, we've got two weeks of insurmountable hype to grind through, and two weeks to get all the necessary research done to hopefully make SBLIV a profitable one.
Obviously there is plenty of time to go through the game and worry about side and total picks, but today I'm going to start off with a Most Valuable Player (MVP) discussion and see if we can't work that into our favor this year. So let's take a look at some history for this award.

Super Bowl MVP History - Positions

This award has long been won dominated by QB's and rightfully so. Of the previous 54 winners (SB XII had co-MVP's), 29 of them have come from the quarterback position. As the guys who touch the ball the most, they've tended to have the most impact on the game, so it's easy to see why the award is dominated by the position.
Including the co-MVP year in SB XII that had two Cowboys defensive players win the award, defensive and/or special teams players have won 11 times, including twice in the past six years. Defensive guys are always going to be long shots for this award and need to generally have a profound impact on the game – which usually includes touching the ball in some regard (forcing/recovering fumbles, INT's) – and that's definitely a possibility for this year's game, especially with who you've got on the San Francisco side of things. But will get to more defensive talk when the “long shots” section arrives.
Which leaves us with the rest of the offensive positions (TE, RB, WR), and historically no eight end has ever won a MVP award, while running backs and wide receivers are tied with seven victories each. Oddly enough, four of the six previous WR winners prior to Julian Edelman last year are a part of two back-to-back instances for WR's winning this award, and that's something to consider this season. Super Bowls X and XI saw WR's Lynn Swann and Fred Biletnikoff win the award, while the feat was repeated for Super Bowls XXXIX and XL when Deion Branch and Hines Ward took home the trophy in consecutive years. Could we see the “double-up” from the position this year?

Super Bowl MVP History – Seeds

Sticking with QB's is always going to be a safe choice, but what about what's happened when we've had a Super Bowl between a #1 (San Francisco) and a #2 (Kansas City) seed.
Since 1975 there have been 13 occurrences where the Super Bowl was #1 vs #2, and the #1 seed holds the all-time advantage in going 8-5 straight up in those games; definitely good news for 49ers backers. Heck, San Francisco was involved in one of those wins as a #1 vs #2 back in 1994 when the Steve Young-led  #1 49ers put a beating on the Chargers, another current AFC West team.
However, most of that dominance by the #1 seed in #1 vs #2 matchups was limited to the 1900's, as since the 2000's have arrived, it's actually the #2 seed that owns a 3-1 SU record in Super Bowls between the two. The only loss in that time was about as brutal as it comes, as it was the #2 Atlanta Falcons of 2016 responsible for that, blowing that 28-3 lead in the 2nd half to New England.
Whether or not you use that information to help you over the next two weeks is up to you, but in terms of MVP talks, the breakdown by position for the MVP award in those 13 #1 vs #2 Super Bowls breaks down like this: QB: 6, RB: 2, WR: 2, and Defense/Special Teams: 3. That's a relatively more equal playing ground historically in terms of position, and it speaks to the incredible talent these top teams tend to have elsewhere.
This year's Chiefs and 49ers team tend to fit in a similar boat, as they've got incredible talent littered throughout the entire field, and there may not be a better year then this one to see a TE win their first ever Super Bowl MVP award. Kansas City's Travis Kelce and San Francisco's George Kittle are two of the best in the game at that position, and the two of them are amongst the top of the list in terms of odds. It is always tough to go against history though, especially when it's been a perfect goose egg for players at that position.
With all that out of the way, let's get to MVP picks for this year's game:

Odds to win Super Bowl MVP - per DraftKings (T&C's Apply, 21+, NJ, IN only)

Favorite: Patrick Mahomes (+110)

How to read the odds: Bet $100 to win $110

Pretty simple cut and dry thing here in that you've got to be willing to put some of your MVP risk on a QB given how often they win the award, and for me, it's much easier to do so with Mahomes.
Mahomes has shown over the past two years that the Chiefs go as he goes, and while you can make the same claim for the 49ers with Garoppolo given their records the past two years, but San Fran hasn't needed Jimmy G to play at a MVP level in these playoffs to get to this point. That speaks to all the other talent the 49ers have put together around their QB, but it also speaks to differing philosophies each organization prefers to employ.
For the 49ers, it's all about defensive pressure and working off their zone running scheme and going from there. They exemplify the idea that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, and for as great as that is in a team-based sport, oddly enough it's not ideal for something like MVP betting.
San Francisco can have different guys step up and have big games based on the situation – look at RB Raheem Mostert in the NFC Championship game – and if you are lucky enough to catch one of those guys on a hot day, then great. But you'd better be getting a nice price to do so, and as a favorite in the +240 range, that's simply nowhere near enough to back Garoppolo in this case. I'll be making a case for one of the 49ers weapons to go off soon, but among the favorites, it's got to be Mahomes or nothing.
I say that because, for the Chiefs to win this game, Mahomes has got to have at least an above average performance.  The Chiefs are more like a basketball team in the sense where they just need one or two guys to take things over offensively, and no matter who that ends up being – Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Damian Williams etc – they are all more reliant on Mahomes doing what he does and getting them the ball. Obviously in its most basic form the same can be said about the 49ers and Garoppolo's ability to get the ball to his playmakers, but they do tend to find their best success from a schematic perspective, not going out there like KC does at times with Mahomes and just letting him work.
That's what great talent like Mahomes has brings to the table, and really when it comes down to it, I tend to always come back to the idea of Super Bowl MVP's 95%+ of the time have come from the winning team. It's much easier to see any one of a handful-plus of guys win the MVP in a 49ers win, but in a Chiefs win, it's really hard to see anyone but Mahomes getting the MVP. On that line of thought alone, the +110 price tag is worth the investment.

Mid-Range: Deebo Samuel +2000

How to read the odds: Bet $100 to win $2,000

If you are looking for a 49ers offensive player that's got plenty of potential for “going off” in a one-game scenario, Samuel at +2000 should be given some serious consideration. Here's why:
One, most people will naturally gravitate to TE George Kittle or one of the 49ers RB's and rightfully so. It's hard to shake from memory the utter dominance San Fran's running game showed against the Packers on Sunday, and the statistical profile of the Chiefs all year is that you can run on them. KC finished 26th in the regular season in the Opponent rushing yards per game stat (128.2) and that's not great at all. Yes, they were able to contain Derrick Henry on Sunday, but the Titans were virtually a one-man show with Henry, and if you allow the Chiefs to zero in on him like they did and dare Tannehill to beat them with his arm, they are going to shut down the running attack. But if you combine San Fran's ground performance against Green Bay with KC's rush defense stats for the year, you will see plenty of support come to the RB's on the Niners.
Kittle is one weapon in the passing game the majority know about on San Francisco, and while he's plenty capable of putting up MVP-type numbers in this game, it's too tough for me to shake the historical angle of a TE never winning this award. It's likely to happen at some point, and as I said earlier, there are two great candidates in this year's game to get it done, but with the TE's on both sides being priced at +1800 or better, I just don't believe that's enough value to try and buck history like that.
Which brings me to Samuel. He's a guy that exploded onto the scene in the middle of this year with some big games in mid-November against divisional opponents Seattle and Arizona (16 catches on 21 targerts in those Week 10 and 11 games) and has become an integral part of the offense ever since. Teams have been able to key on him a bit, but I would venture an educated guess that San Francisco's WR's are going to be Option #3 for Kansas City in terms of the Chiefs game planning for what they want to take away first. I believe the Chiefs will look to stop the running game first, then Kittle and play-action, and then the WR's. If that's the case, it will be someone in the 49ers receiving core that will go off should they end up winning this game.
Finally, backing Samuel also fits with the potential for back-to-back MVP's for WR's as history does suggest. Yes, maybe that historical perspective has skewed me away from say Kittle, and towards Samuel more then it probably should, but even still, San Francisco is likely going to need at least one receiver to go off if they are going to win. Samuel built up quite a rapport with Jimmy G this year, and if he finds the end zone and/or blows the top off a Chiefs defense that will spend a lot of time creeping down to protect against the run, a huge day could be in the cards for this 49ers receiver.

Longshot: Arik Armstead +10000

How to read the odds: Bet $100 to win $10,000

Earlier on I mentioned that in the 13 Super Bowls since 1975 between a #1 and #2 seed, a defensive/special teams player has won the MVP award three times. That 23% rate is better then the overall numbers for defensive guys winning this award in Super Bowls – only 20.3% of the time in Super Bowls overall (13 for 54) – and that's giving credit to two different defensive players on Dallas who shared the award in Super Bowl XII.
From a matchup standpoint, I do believe that going with Armstead – San Francisco's leader in sacks this year (10) - makes quite a bit of sense.
First off, he's not the biggest name on that 49ers defense by far, and just like the Chiefs are likely to focus on stopping certain things first when SF has the ball (SF's running game, then Kittle/play-action etc), KC's O-line is likely looking at others like Nick Bosa or DeForest Buckner as the key cogs to slow down in San Francisco's pass rush. A 49ers win will likely come thanks to a great game by that front seven on the Niners, as they'll have to be in Mahomes face all night long, making him very uncomfortable along the way.
So why not take San Fran's leading sack-getter if that's the case, especially one that probably won't get the publicity or attention that others will from the betting market, or the Kansas City Chiefs. Armstead's 10 sacks this year came as a big benefit of his other teammates getting more attention in protection schemes, and that's unlikely to change. Should Armstead get to Mahomes a couple of times, and create a turnover or two en route to a Niners victory, why not take a shot with him at this price. Given that his opposite end in Nick Bosa is priced much steeper at +4100, backing Armstead as a longshot makes sense on multiple levels.

Odds provided by FanDuel (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Odds Subject to Change - T&C's Apply, 21+

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