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Why I still like the Chiefs ATS vs. the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV

We break down the best picks against the spread for the Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes before the snap against the Cleveland Browns during the second half in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Directly following the Championship Round, I wrote my early thoughts on the spread and the over/under for Super Bowl 55. Now, after close to two weeks of research and contemplation, I’m going to give you my updated thoughts.

DraftKings Sportsbook opened the Chiefs as 3.5-point favorites with a healthy over/under of 57.5. Eleven days later, those numbers have dropped a bit. The Chiefs are now 3-point favorites and the over/under has fallen to 56-points. Those are both significant drops and ones that make the likelihood of my earlier picks slightly better.

ATS Pick: Chiefs

I was worried about that half point the Buccaneers were getting, but at three points, I feel better. But, my thoughts on this game have changed slightly. The more I look at this matchup, the more I like the Buccaneers. A Chiefs defense that blitzes more than most, but doesn’t get to the quarterback all that often is a concern. And there is a true disparity in the trenches, which was there with Eric Fisher healthy, but even more so now with Fisher out.

I like to go from the base when betting NFL games and that base is line play. You can have the best quarterback in the world, but if he’s on the ground, he can’t do much. But unlike many teams, the Chiefs offense and defense aren’t influenced nearly as much by the quality of their linemen. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are just different.

There are coaches and quarterbacks out there that are game changers, and at this point in time, Reid and Mahomes are at the pinnacle in the NFL. We all know the narrative of Reid’s win-loss record when he has extra time to prepare for games, but let’s take another look.

And let’s think about the teams Reid has coached. He’s only had Mahomes leading his team for three seasons. Reid has won with some rag-tag groups in his career. Donovan McNabb was good, but helping him get to the Super Bowl took real talent.

Mahomes has never lost a game in the NFL by more than one possession. He is 38-8 in the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs. Nobody has put up the numbers he has through three seasons. Does he need a great line to perform well? No. He makes his line great. The Chiefs had two linemen opt out before the season due to COVID-19 concerns and then lost more to injuries early in the season. There is no doubt that their offensive line has been patch-worked together this year, but they still allowed just 24 sacks during the regular season, one sack in two playoff games and the fourth-best adjusted sack rate in the league.

Those offensive line numbers are near the top in the league, but Mahomes quick release, ability to evade the rush and throw from multiple angles and positions, are the reason they are so good statistically. And even with Fisher gone, they’ll be able to keep the patchwork going and Mahomes will get the job done.

Over/Under Pick: Over

I started to back off my earlier call of over, but as the number dropped, so did my fear of the over. The Chiefs defense is a middling unit that gets the most out of their offense putting opposing offenses in catch-up mode. Teams who want to run the ball and can run the ball against the Chiefs just don’t get the opportunities because the Chiefs quick-strike capability takes the running game out of the picture. But, talent-wise, they can be beaten. And the Bucs have the talent to do just that.

The Chiefs, in their lone loss with the starters, scored 32 points. They only dipped below 20 points once and against the Buccaneers in Week 12, they scored 27 points quickly and then let off the gas. There will be no letting off the gas for either team in this game and I expect the offenses to win the day.

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