NFL

Super Bowl LVIII: Mike Carlson's 12 bets for a close game in Vegas

Super Bowl LVIII Trophy and Helmets
Get Mike Carlson's 12 tips for the Super Bowl LVIII

Nobody knows the NFL better than Mike Carlson so read his tactical analysis of Sunday's Super Bowl and get his best bets for the big night in Vegas which cover everything from the national anthem to the gatorade...

  • Mike predicts a tight and defensive Super Bowl

  • Purdy and Pacheco feat. in eight game bets

  • Get result prediction plus special bets up to 5/16.00


This year's Super Bowl is a great match-up and one of its best stories is the battle of the underdogs. Although they do not go head-to-head, the performances of two players who were afterthoughts in the NFL Draft just two years ago could be crucial. That's because each of these teams is, to an extent, playing against type.

The Niners, 2.5 point favourites, played most of the season from the front, apart from a three-game stretch where they were missing key tackle Trent Williams and receiver Deebo Samuel. The book said Kyle Shanahan's teams couldn't win coming from behind: so they won both their playoff games after recovering from lacklustre first halves, and came from 24-7 against the Lions in the NFC title game to win 34-31.

The Chiefs were always the explosive team: Patrick Mahomes would drive them to big leads, making life easy for his defense, or be the catalyst for huge comebacks if necessary. But that formula wasn't working this season, statistically Mahomes' worst, and coach Andy Reid had to change things up.

Purdy is perfect for the Niners

Everyone knows about San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy, "Mr Irrelevant", taken with the final pick of the 2022 draft. Purdy became the starter midway through that season, after injuries to Jimmy Garopollo and Trey Lance, for whom the Niners had paid a draft-pick ransom to Miami to move up at grab with the third pick of the 2021 draft.

Purdy led the Niners to the NFC Championship game last season. He got injured early in that game against Philadelphia and the Eagles went on to last year's Super Bowl. Purdy was a question mark coming into the season, but although many of the pundit class consider him still unproven, he's turned out to be exactly the kind of QB coach Kyle Shanahan's offense needs: he reads the defense quickly, makes good decisions, and throws accurately to hit receivers in stride.

San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan.jpg

That's the key for San Francisco. We know how their offense prefers to play, with zone-blocked runs finessing play-action passes across the field. How can Kansas City's defensive genius Steve Spagnuolo stop that?

Will he play more defenders on the line of scrimmage, to cut off the outside runs, or will he pack them into the middle of the field, to cut off crossing routes to the Niners' receivers? Can he pressure Purdy and force Purdy, in the biggest game of his life, into mistakes?

It seemed to work in the playoffs for the Packers and Lions in the first halves, but we saw Purdy engineer comeback wins.

Pacheco key for new look Chiefs

Meanwhile, the Chiefs' path to the Super Bowl has involved a new-look. After a Christmas Day loss to Las Vegas Raiders, Reid seemed to accept his big play offense wasn't working.

Mahomes simply didn't have consistent receivers downfield. So he went to a more West Coast-style game which asked Mahomes to play a shorter pass game, highly reliant on tight end Jason Kelce, who's not the downfield threat he was a couple of seasons ago, and on running-back Isiah Pacheco.

Andy Reid Chiefs 1280.jpg

Pacheco was drafted just 11 picks ahead of Purdy in the final round of the 2022 draft, from the University of Rhode Island, not a football powerhouse. His bouncy, attacking running style won over KC fans, and in Reid's new model offense, he's relied on Pacheco to carry the ball more.

Reid had previously had always been quick to "forget" the run. Against the Ravens in the AFC championship, the Chiefs went ahead early and held the Ravens to 10 points, winning 17-10 without scoring in the second half. Pacheco ran the ball 24 times, even though he gained only 68 yards. Reid was sticking to ball-control, running the clock and possession. Kelce caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a TD. It was short, controlled attack.

So my read on this game is that it will not be the kind of shootout the Niners had with the Lions, and more like the tight defensive game the Chiefs had with the Ravens.

The biggest question mark is the Niner D. They allowed only 10 rushing touchdowns during the regular season and gave up five in their two playoff games. This plays well into my plans.


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Mike Carlson's Super Bowl game play bets

Back Pacheco Over 67.5 rush yards @ 5/61.84

Although he bettered this rush yards line only five times during the season, he's done so in all four of the Chiefs' games since that Christmas loss, with 68 in the championship, and I like him to go over again.

Back Pacheco Over 67.5 rush yards @ 5/61.84

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Back Purdy Over 30 passing attempts @ 5/61.84

Again, he threw 31 times against the Lions and 36 against Green Bay. They'd like him to stay under 30, but I think he might have to throw more.

Back Purdy Over 30 passing attempts @ 5/61.84

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Back Christian McCaffrey under 91.5 rush yards a@ 5/61.84

If Purdy throws over 30, CMC probably rushes for less than 92 yards, so this bet makes sense.

Back Christian McCaffrey under 91.5 rush yards a@ 5/61.84

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Back George Kittle over 3.5 receptions @ 5/61.84

With Deebo back at full speed, Kittle may benefit from less attention and can covers the overs on receptions.

Back George Kittle over 3.5 receptions @ 5/61.84

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Back Chris Jones over 2.5 tackles plus assists @ 4/51.80

Jones' interior play will be crucial to the Chiefs' D and he will be making tackles.

Back Chris Jones over 2.5 tackles plus assists @ 4/51.80

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Back Second Half Points Under 23.5 @ 5/61.84

I am basing this on the way the Chiefs have played defense, and thinking that will control the pace.

Back Second Half Points Under 23.5 @ 5/61.84

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Back both teams to score in first quarter @ 11/82.38

A bit of a long shot, especially as I expect a tight game, but worth it at the prices.

Back both teams to score in first quarter @ 11/82.38

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Best Bet - Back Tight End to Score a TD @ 19/2

Here's my best bet at the prices for Sunday's Super Bowl.

Kelce plus Kittle plus maybe someone else? Take it!

Back Tight End to Score @ 19/210.50

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Mike Carlson's Super Bowl Novelty Specials Bets

Of course part of the fun is Super Bowl is betting on all the side-shows, and there is always something for everyone on offer. Here's a look at the big ones:

Back National Anthem Over 90 seconds @ 5/61.84

I admire Reba McIntire, and though she is all business, I think her closing flourish will carry her over the line.

Back Over 90 seconds @ 5/61.84

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Back Half-Time Show Usher to sing under 8.5 songs @ 17/102.70

I know nothing about Usher, but I like the odds better than 4/111.36 on over.

Back Under 8.5 songs @ 17/102.70

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Gatorade Poured Over Winning Coach Back Red/Pink @ 5/16.00

Red is the colour of both teams in this game. I think 5/16.00 is a nice value for that to be the colour of the gatorade that is poured over the winning coach at the end of the game.

Back red gatorade @ 5/16.00

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Mike Carlson's Super Bowl Winner Prediction

I am drawn to the 49ers to get revenge for their loss to KC in 2020, which I thought was extremely unlucky. Charvarious Ward of the Niners played for the Chiefs in that one.

I was surprised the Chiefs were not the favourites for this. They are 11/102.11 on the moneyline, and 9/10 getting 2.5 points, and I can see where they should draw support, but that line has not moved.

But I still like the Niners, giving the 2.5 at 9/10, though they are 3/4 on the moneyline.

My best bet, however, would be under 47.5 points at 9/10, which you might have guessed from my suggesting the second-half under as well. Good luck!

Back Under 47.5 points @ 9/10

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Now Read Ultimate Guide to the Super Bowl 2024: Education, Predictions and Betting Tips

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