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Should you bet on or fade tight ends to win Super Bowl 58 MVP?

There are two big-name tight ends in Chiefs vs. 49ers. History is against them winning MVP but might that change this time around? We dig into the data.

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a first down during the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

There are plenty of bets being placed on Super Bowl 58 between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. Plenty probably isn’t the right word or phrase to use, but we’ll try and keep it PG in this story. There are so many markets to choose from but the one that might present the most value (especially this season) is Super Bowl 58 MVP. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is the betting favorite to win SB58 MVP on DraftKings Sportsbook at +125. Chances are a lot of the bets will be on the two QBs — Mahomes and Brock Purdy.

One position that is especially interesting in this matchup is tight end. We’ve got two elite tight ends on both sides — Chiefs TE Travis Kelce and 49ers TE George Kittle. Both players could end up in the Hall of Fame one day. For now, they’ll try and get their teams to a championship. Both players may appear to be good value to win SB58 MVP given the odds. We’re going to dig into history and the data a bit and help you make a decision on whether to bet or fade the two TEs.

History of Super Bowl MVP

A tight end has never won Super Bowl MVP. You could use that statistic alone to make a decision to fade each player. In the 57 Super Bowls that have been played, 32 of those games resulted in a QB winning MVP. That’s around 56% of the players. After that, it’s eight wide receivers, seven running backs or fullbacks, and 10 defensive players (or kick returners). Nine of those are defensive players and one kick returner (Desmond Howard for the Packers in Super Bowl 31).

This isn’t to say that tight ends haven’t had a good shot at winning SB MVP in recent seasons. In what feels like the golden age of the position, a few of the best have come close. The one name you probably already thought of is Rob Gronkowski.

Gronk had two recent Super Bowl performances that could have resulted in SB MVPs. Had the Patriots defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl 52, Gronk would have won the award after finishing with nine catches for 116 yards and two TDs. A few seasons later after Tom Brady and Gronk joined the Bucs, the tight end had another strong case for MVP after catching six passes for 67 yards and a pair of TDs. QBs won the award over Gronk in both Super Bowls.

Kelce caught a TD in each of the Chiefs’ previous Super Bowl wins in his NFL career. He didn’t have gaudy stats in either game and Mahomes took home MVP in both Super Bowl wins. But if you were to give MVP to someone in the AFC Championship Game this season, it likely would have been Kelce. He had a few circus grabs and finished with 11 catches for 116 yards and a TD. If we see a similar performance in this Super Bowl, it may be Kelce making history in 2024.

A lot of the great TE performances in Super Bowl history were either overshadowed by a QB or took place in a loss.

Super Bowl MVP odds

For Kelce and Kittle, if we were to decide not to bet on them, it wouldn’t be because their odds are unfavorable. In fact, you can make an argument that Kelce is one of the best value bets on the entire board at +1200. If it isn’t Mahomes winning SB MVP, you’d think it’s Kelce. Kittle has a tougher path but is +6000 to win SB MVP. That’s tied for the fourth-best odds among 49ers players to win SB MVP. It’s tough to find a path for Kittle to win SB MVP over CMC given his volume. We’re also down on Purdy to win. The 49ers’ QB likely wins SB MVP if he goes off and the Niners just sling it. Or Purdy ends up throwing a game-winning TD or sets up a game-winning drive.

Kittle is the tougher one to make a case for so we’ll look into his stats this season a bit. The one game that sticks out is that 3-TD performance against the Cowboys. Kittle had some of his best games this season against top competition. Aside from the Dallas game, Kittle also played well against the Bengals, Ravens, Bucs and Jaguars. Kittle also played well in the comeback win over the Packers in the Divisional Round, catching four passes for 81 yards and a TD. Kittle should be the top receiver for San Fran. Deebo Samuel is a bit banged up. Brandon Aiyuk has been quiet this postseason. If we had to rank 49ers SB MVP candidates, Kittle might be second behind CMC. So given the odds, the value is there.

Should you bet or fade a TE to win Super Bowl 58 MVP?

History is, of course, against us. But there’s enough value and narrative that Kelce or Kittle could end up as game MVP. Kelce has the Taylor Swift narrative on his side, which shouldn’t play a factor but the more you’re talked about, the better. Kelce looked like he was in his prime for the AFC Championship. He’ll get the snaps, he’ll get the targets/stats. It’s really just outperforming the best QB on the planet, who is also throwing you the ball. Kind of a double-edged sword there.

For Kittle, the game plan for the Chiefs’ defense could play in the tight ends favor. If K.C. focuses on shutting down Deebo and CMC, Kittle should get his. We’ve seen the Niners have to come from behind in back-to-back playoff games. That means plenty of throwing the ball. Kittle is definitely a red-zone target and has a shot to score, which is very important for SB MVP (at least in this game setting). If it isn’t McCaffrey, Kittle should have a good shot if the Niners can win.

Sprinkle some money on each. We wouldn’t advise going all-in on either bet. But there’s as good a shot as ever in this Super Bowl for a tight end to win MVP.