The Circa Sportsbook opened this game at KC -2.5 and quickly saw the line move to PHI -2.5. It has settled at PHI -1.5 or -1. The total opened at 48.5 or 49 in most places and now is 51. By listening to pundits and anyone else who will gladly give you their opinion on this game, many common themes are being told. PHI has a great defense. PHI has a record number of sacks. PHI scores quickly as they are the highest-scoring team in the first half of the NFL. PHI has a great secondary. PHI has excellent receivers. PHI can run the ball. PHI has Nick Siriani, the Coach of the Year. The theme could include other things too. I have heard about how great they are on converting 4th downs; Jalen Hurts is 16-1 as a starter, Hurts has scored more TDs than any other QB, etc. There is heavy optimism for PHI. VSiN betting splits show that 67% of the money comes from PHI.
I don’t care who wins. But I do watch how my wagers turn out. I say that
because I do not have an agenda to rail for one side or the other. Instead, I
need to find out how to make money. So, with that said, here is my breakdown.
While many of the themes above are factual statements, they are just game
elements. From the very beginning, there is a reason Circa Sportsbook opened
the number with KC as the favorite. My friend and colleague, Jeff Dawson,
always says, “respect the opening number.” Most bettors are past that
point, as we are almost two weeks past that date, and other trends or stats are
filling their minds. If Circa believed KC was the favorite, were they wrong to
believe that? I say no.
At this point, everyone knows about the soft schedule PHI played. If you
don’t, you should. It was the NFL’s most manageable schedule. It is more
important to consider that PHI played only 2 QBS in the top ten rankings for
QBR (DET J. Goff and NYG D. Jones). Here is the list. In the games where they
played a top-10 QB, they allowed an average of 21.3 points. If you move that to
inside the top 15 (Prescott gets included), the average points allowed are 26.
Also, the key to note, KC QB Patrick Mahomes is ranked #1 at QBR!
There needs to be a more critical call against PHI for how they have played, especially Jalen Hurts, since his return in week 18. In the two games he missed, week 16 and week 17, the defense allowed 40 points to DAL and 20 points to NO. Their defense allowed points to talented QBs during the season and is not one of the best. However, I expect them to be solid. But the offense has been concerning regarding the passing game. Since his return, Jalen Hurts has attempted 17 passes of more than ten yards in his three games. He has only completed 5 of them. That is a 29.4% completion rate. He did throw a TD over 10 yards, either. Below are his charts for those games. KC Patrick Mahomes has attempted 19 passes of more than 10 yards, completing 12 (63.2%) with 2 TDs.
The vaunted PHI OL is statistically different from what most people think,
especially when pass-blocking. The PHI OL ranked only 12th in pass block win
rate. This is interesting because all we hear about is how dominant PHI’s OL
and DL are, yet KC is 2nd in sacks with 55 and 3rd in adjusted sack rate. It
may turn out that KC will pressure Hurts as much or more than PHI. PHI is the
best defense with 70 sacks and #1 in adjusted sack rate, but they will line up
against the KC OL, which is #1 in pass block rate and only allowed 26 sacks on
the season, ranking 3rd best.
Football Outsiders wDVOA (weighted DVOA, which credits later played games
more than earlier ones) has KC 34.4% #2 and PHI 28.9% #5. This leads to the
question of Circa. Did they get it wrong? Not according to wDVOA. So my game
theory would be that PHI runs the ball as much as possible. It is a strength,
and try to play from the lead. I have serious doubts if they trail in this game,
which leads to the game script. I will say it this way. I am comfortable with
Mahomes and Reid playing from any game script (behind or ahead), but I am only satisfied
with Hurts and Siriani if they play in front. In 2021, Hurts had a script where
he played from ahead in 46.7% (based on 274 of 587 dropbacks when PHI had a
>40% win probability). In 2022, he had 95.1% (598 of 629). It means they
were always ahead. They capitalized on whom they played for sure. Since PHI was
not behind often, Hurts can be charted for in the 2nd of games in 2022, where
he was in an unfavorable game script (losing, WP <50%). His results are alarming.
He had a -01.83 EPA/play and a 40.8% success rate. In comparison, his results
are +0.125 EPA/Play and 48.6% success rate when in favorable game script. This
leads to believing Mahomes can come back if necessary and Hurts cannot.
I also know that KC needs to get more credit for their defense. Sure, it is
not full of Pro Bowlers like PHI, but wDVOA ranks it 12th, just
outside the top ten. I did mention their ability to rush the passer. It is
2nd/3rd best in the league, depending on which metric. However, their pass
defense has improved dramatically, and their rush defense ranks 15th. KC has
always been known as a team needing to outscore what their defense allows. This
KC defense is not exceptional, but it is better than those from the past. The
chart shows KC’s defense from weeks 1-7, then from weeks 9-21. It went from
ranking 27th vs. the pass to 9th! This also coincides with the return of rookie
CB Trent McDuffie. As much as they are improved, they can still be run on.
Lastly, KC played in a lopsided Super Bowl the last time they were here.
They had a banged-up OL, and TB had Mahomes running for his life. Reid and Mahomes
will want to take that taste out of their mouth. Reid is known for his extra
prep time success 28-4, including last week vs. JAX. He is admired for his game
plans, opponent preparation, and play calling. Siriani is more known for his analytical
prowess and listening to the progressive side for when to “go for it or
not.” This suggests that what Reid is good at outweighs what Siriani is good
I bet KC +1.5, KC ML.
This will also be an Under game. I suggest waiting as long as possible to
make the wager, however. It is 51 now and may trickle up as more money comes
in. Under 51.5 or better is the target. I will be wagering that I have not yet.
In terms of prop bets:
Mahomes MVP +120
Total TDs in 1st half Over 1.5 +125