Paul Higham looks for value alternatives to the quarterbacks in the Super Bowl MVP market, and picks out his top ten prop bets for the big game...
"In the second half, the offensive coordinators have made adjustments, defences will be getting tired and with the game on the line the coaches are dialling up more attacking plays. Any type of game should result in this paying off, just as it has in the last four Super Bowls and in six of the last eight."
There's an absolute bucketload of betting specials and prop bets that you can get your teeth into for the Super Bowl, ranging from every type of statistical category to the colour of the Gatorade poured over the winning coach. The coveted MVP award is the stand-out, so here we'll try to dig out a value punt on that before taking a look through some of the other fancies for the big game.
Let's start with the MVP award and what looks a two-horse race between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. The quarterbacks get all the love in the NFL and in what's usually a popularity contest it's tough to see anything other than one of these two huge personalities walking away with the MVP if their team wins the Super Bowl.
Quarterbacks have won Super Bowl MVP 30 times and some of them, Brady included, have done little to merit the award during the actual game itself, but such is the narrative behind this game between the GOAT and and Baby GOAT, I couldn't argue with you adding in your quarterback to whatever team you think will win (it'll be the Chiefs by the way) to boost your odds in a double.
There are some lofty prices on the rest of the field as a result though, given the star power behind the front-runners, and quarterbacks have 'only' won four of the last seven Super Bowl MVP awards. And there are certain game scenarios that would lead to a big-priced winner here, which we'll now go through along with the best value MVP picks.
Take Tyreek as Chiefs alternative
Mahomes could become just the third player to win back-to-back Super Bowl MVPs, joining NFL royalty Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw, and such is the way he plays his football it's hard to see anyone else from the Chiefs managing to outshine him on the night. He produces incredible throws, some without looking, and can score himself with his shifty speed in the open field.
Tight end Travis Kelce is phenomenal, and I'm certain he'll score a touchdown here, but he'll be getting the ball from Mahomes and most likely score from close range. A running back can do it all without the need for any QB magic, but the Buccaneers have had the top-ranked run defence the last two seasons so that's an unlikely route for our MVP value search.
Chris Jones is a defensive giant but if KC win, the only real alternative you could point to is Tyreek Hill (12/1), the frighteningly fast wide receiver with electric play-making ability. He could easily take some short passes and turn them into mega touchdown runs - and the more you do after the QB gives you the ball the better.
152 of his 282 receiving yards in the play-offs have come after he has caught the ball, so if he produces a couple of those huge plays, hauls in a few more eye-catching receptions and a score or two then he could well follow Julian Edelman and become the second wideout in three years to take the MVP.
Tampa Bay have already been burned by Hill too, as he made 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns in their previous meeting this season. A repeat of that stat line would surely see him collect the award.
More scope for value if Bucs win
Brady obviously can't shift like Mahomes, and with fewer highlight reel moves in his locker there's more chance of other players in his team catching the eye. Mike Evans is a dominant receiver, so a huge day for him could do it, but it's more likely that running back Leonard Fournette (25/1) has a big day on the ground.
'Play-off Lenny' has seven touchdowns in his six career post-season games and he's led the Bucs' rushing attack in their play-off run. He had a brilliant 20-yard TD run against Green Bay with an eye-catching spin move, and if he delivers again with a relatively low passing yardage total for Brady then he'll be our man.
As the old saying goes, though, 'defence wins championships' and if the Bucs are to win it they'll need to slow down Mahomes somehow. For me, the biggest problem the Chiefs have to deal with is that aggressive Tampa Bay defensive line, especially considering KC are without left tackle Eric Fisher to protect Mahomes' blindside.
The Chiefs went 4-4 last season without Fisher, and 11-0 with him, and the Bucs have two fearsome pass rushers in Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. That duo harassed Aaron Rodgers all game to get to the Super Bowl, and now they'll have a patched-up O-line to feast on.
Pierre-Paul (70/1) is a big price for a player who could easily dish out a couple of sacks and some big hits on Mahomes, but Barrett (45/1) did sack Rodgers three times in the NFC title game and another three here could clinch the game.
It's hard to see just sacks catch the eye of the judges though, so preference may just go to Devin White (45/1) - Tampa's do-everything linebacker who has that play-making ability to really stand out in a game. He's had 26 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception in his two play-off games - he also had nine sacks in the regular season and it's those kind of numbers that get you noticed.
If Tampa Bay win, White will have to have a big impact on this game, and at 45/1 he could provide huge value.
Top 10: The pick of the props
Total yardage of all Chiefs touchdowns
OK, so Tyreek Hill already has a 75-yard score against Tampa Bay this season, but the Bucs will be guarded against those big plays over the top and in the six play-off games Mahomes has completed they've topped this total just once before.
It was 35 yards in total in last year's Super Bowl and just 16 yards from their five TDs against Buffalo in the AFC title game - they're explosive but the Chiefs also finish off drives in the red zone.
Team to score the longest touchdown (includes D/ST)
For the reasons above, and that at some stage I expect Tampa Bay will need to play from behind, then despite all of the Chiefs' outstanding attacking weapons, there's more than a decent chance of the Bucs producing the longest score of the night.
They've got huge receivers who can dominate and Brady's deep ball has improved in the second half of the season - desperate times call for desperate measures here.
Opening kick-off to be returned
A nice way to start your Super Bowl viewing here with a price that is nowhere near reflective of the recent stats - with six of the last seven Super Bowl opening kick-offs being returned and just one touchback, yet the touchback is 3/10 while the kick to be returned is 11/5.
The adrenalin flowing may well put an extra bit of juice into the kicker's leg, but it seems it also means that the return men can't help but catch that opening kick and have an early run. Both teams have handy returners too, and you don't even have to stay up too late to back a winner.
Coaches to go for risky fourth down
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is one of the most creative innovators in the game, Bucs boss Bruce Arians famously has his 'no risk it, no biscuit' mantra, and neither of these guys will leave anything tucked away in the playbook.
If one of them is down, and the clock's against them, they're going for it. Furthermore, you just can't afford to give the ball to Brady or Mahomes too much, so some big fourth down calls may come earlier than we expect.
Back Reid or Arians to pull out the fake
As above! It's not one of those Super Bowls with stuffy old Bill Belichick and the Patriots involved. The one time Saints boss Sean Payton made a Super Bowl he pulled out an on-side kick after half-time and stunned everyone.
These two head coaches are cut from a similar cloth, they're gunslingers, they won't go home feeling there was more to be done, they'll be taking swings from the off and they'll certainly have some trick plays well rehearsed and ready to go.
Two picks is all we need
Patrick Mahomes only has two career post-season interceptions, both came in last year's Super Bowl, and while Tom Brady had just 12 picks in 16 regular season games, he had three in the NFC title match at Green Bay. Even the best succumb to pressure every now and then.
This is the Super Bowl, mistakes happen, nerves are everywhere, and there should be passing attempts galore. Not much needs to go wrong to see two interceptions in the big game.
More points in the second half
Here's a stat for you - in his previous nine Super Bowls Tom Brady's all-powerful Patriots side scored just three points in the first quarters combined! The first quarter is traditionally were all the nerves are at their highest, defences have had two weeks to scheme for their opposition and coaches are playing it safe.
In the second half, the offensive coordinators have made adjustments, defences will be getting tired and with the game on the line the coaches are dialling up more attacking plays. Any type of game should result in this paying off, just as it has in the last four Super Bowls and in six of the last eight.
Mahomes to cut it loose
Mahomes is going to throw the ball, a lot! Andy Reid isn't stupid and he knows better than to try to run on this Bucs rush defence, plus their re-shaped offensive line will undoubtedly struggle.
Mahomes threw it 42 times in last year's Super Bowl and he's thrown it 40 times or more in 10 games this season. The main thing here is that regardless of the game situation the Chiefs will still throw the ball - when they led against the Bucs this season they still kept on airing it out.
Sacks for Shaq and co
Aaron Rodgers will be having nightmares about Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul all summer after the duo made his life a misery in the NFC title game, and although Patrick Mahomes has an extra gear to Rodgers, he'll still be hard pushed to escape their clutches all game long.
I like Barrett to get a sack at 11/10, but Pierre-Paul should also get home as well and, with Devin White also a danger against that banged-up Chiefs offensive line, between them they should get their hands on Mahomes three times at least.
Mahomes on his toes
He's struggling with a toe injury, but that won't stop Mahomes from getting on his bike in Tampa, and he'll have to given the pass rushing monsters that will be on his case throughout the game.
He had 29 yards and a score in last year's Super Bowl, 28 yards against the Bucs this season in one of nine games he went over 20 yards on the ground. The Chiefs have so much variety and speed in their attack that Mahomes can often be forgotten. He's had three 20-plus yard runs this term so could even hit his mark here in one go.