Scott’s Seven NFL Picks: Super Bowl LVIII

By Scott Kacsmar

The NFL season is set to conclude with Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. We already did our mega preview for the game earlier this week, but we have our final NFL picks of the season packed in below, including our best bet for Super Bowl MVP.

With so much analysis of the game already done, I think we should just dive right into the picks and get ready for Sunday night for what could be a fantastic Super Bowl to end this season.

As always, our picks can be prop picks, spreads, totals, alternate lines, moneylines, teasers, same game parlays, etc. We like to think outside the box instead of just telling you to pick a 12-point favorite to win. You can play the picks separately or parlay your favorite choices together.

Note: Picks are ranked in order of confidence (highest to lowest).

1. First Bet for the First Quarter

Let’s get one decided early, and no, we are not betting on the coin flip. Both teams are known for doing well in the first quarter because of their offensive coaches scripting great plays right out of the gate.

But the Chiefs have been incredible in the playoffs with 8 straight opening-drive scores, including 6 touchdowns and 2 field goals. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on their first drive against the Ravens and that set a tone for the game. They also scored a touchdown on their first drive against the Eagles a year ago with Travis Kelce catching a touchdown from Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs have been a very good early-scoring team this season and a very poor second-half scoring team, but more on that later. Look for the Chiefs to strike early and it is not impossible for them to hit this over alone with a 10-point quarter.

But the 49ers should help pick up any slack. While it’s true the 49ers are scoreless in the first quarter this postseason, they usually shine early, and they missed a field goal against Detroit that hurt their cause.

The Chiefs are a bit shaky in the early going of games on defense before they adjust later, and the 49ers being an unfamiliar opponent with a ton of talent could lead to some early scoring in this one.

It was 7-3 Chiefs after a quarter in Super Bowl LVI when these teams met. I think you see at least 10 points in this opening quarter, if not 14. We’re rolling with over 7.5 points.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Over 7.5 First Quarter Points (-120 at FanDuel)

2. Christian McCaffrey and Travis Kelce Are Inevitable

This is not one to overthink. Like last year, I could still kick myself for not just going all in on Jalen Hurts and Travis Kelce to score touchdowns, which they both achieved 8 minutes into the game.

We may have to wait a little longer for this one to hit, but Christian McCaffrey and Travis Kelce are the best choices to step up and inevitably score for their teams in this game.

McCaffrey has scored in all but 3 games this year, and he can score as a receiver in addition to the rushing touchdowns. Kelce has been hot in the playoffs with 3 touchdowns in Buffalo and Baltimore, and those defenses allowed just 3 touchdowns to tight ends in the regular season (same total as San Francisco). He is matchup proof with the way the Chiefs scheme for him and the backyard football connection he has with Mahomes.

Besides, when Taylor Swift is making the effort to come from Japan to this game, you know Kelce is going to show out and score for his team. I’m not overthinking this one.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+181 at FanDuel)

3. Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes Again 

Yes, we have a unique market this time as the Super Bowl has a game MVP award, so we want to include our pick for that too. We know the winning quarterback has a huge edge, so it is no surprise that Patrick Mahomes (+150) and Brock Purdy (+210) have the best odds to win Super Bowl MVP.

We can talk all we want about good value picks like a random defender stepping up for it, but those are usually winning choices in a game with a legendary defense involved (2000 Ravens, 2002 Buccaneers, 2013 Seahawks, and 2015 Broncos).

This has to be an offensive player in this matchup, and Christian McCaffrey (+450) does have the best odds for a non-quarterback. No running back has won Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis on the 1997 Broncos, a shocking fact. McCaffrey will have a shot if he gets over 125 yards from scrimmage and multiple touchdowns, something he’s done in both playoff games. But the 49ers of course have to win the game too as only Chuck Howley on the 1970 Cowboys won Super Bowl MVP in a losing effort.

No tight end has ever won Super Bowl MVP either, so those bets on Travis Kelce and George Kittle may not work out. But Kelce is an interesting choice given his dominance with Mahomes. Only issue is he has to overcome his quarterback, and that’s hard to do unless he catches all of the touchdowns that Mahomes throws, or maybe Mahomes throws a pick or two. If you gave out an MVP award for the AFC Championship Game, I think Kelce would have won it that day with 11 catches for 116 yards and the only touchdown catch for the Chiefs. But that’s a hard effort to repeat in back-to-back games.

That’s why in the end, my game pick is the Chiefs, and I think Mahomes has the numbers to win his third Super Bowl MVP award. He’ll spread the ball around Kelce, Rashee Rice, and Isiah Pacheco in the backfield to finish with enough yards and touchdowns himself to justify the selection.

Again, maybe there’s a better return on investment to be had in this game for this award, but at the end of the day, only one player wins the Super Bowl MVP. I’m not betting against Mahomes for this one in a Super Bowl where he comes in healthy (unlike the last two) and is facing the least intimidating defense in his four Super Bowl starts.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Super Bowl MVP Award – Patrick Mahomes (+150 at FanDuel)

4. Not a Banner Night for Brock Purdy

Next, we have a 3-leg parlay that paints a bad picture for Brock Purdy as he becomes the third-youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. But such youth in a game like this has not been favorable in NFL history, and the Chiefs are an elite pass defense and the offensive line in pass protection is the shakiest part of San Francisco’s offense.

  • Brock Purdy Over 0.5 Passes Intercepted
  • 49ers Under 24.5 Points
  • Chiefs ML

Purdy may not throw a ton of picks, but we’ve seen him get intercepted by the Ravens and Browns, the other two best defenses he faced this year. The Chiefs caught Purdy’s first interception in the NFL last year when he came off the bench in a 44-23 loss. Purdy was intercepted under pressure against the Lions in the NFC Championship Game, and the Chiefs rank No. 2 in pass pressure rate and sacks, and you know defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is going to cook up blitzes against him.

The five youngest quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl all were intercepted, including Mahomes (twice) and Purdy’s idol Dan Marino (twice). We know he often puts the ball in danger and it’s just a matter of the defense catching it or not. I’m banking on the Chiefs catching at least one interception.

The 49ers have a great scoring offense, but we have seen them slip up multiple times this year and not reach 20 points with Purdy. We’ve also seen the Chiefs not allow more than 27 points in every game, and only the Packers were able to score more than 24 points against them this year. Kansas City’s 19 games without allowing more than 24 points is tied with the 1925 Frankford Yellow Jackets and 2000 Ravens for the most such games in a season in NFL history.

In all 4 of San Francisco’s losses with Purdy this year, they scored fewer than 20 points and he was intercepted. If the Chiefs can pick him off and hold the 49ers under 24.5 points like they’ve done to everyone but Green Bay this year, they should win this game.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Brock Purdy Over 0.5 Passes Intercepted & 49ers Under 24.5 Points & Chiefs ML (+250 at BetRivers)

5. Mahomes’ Wide Receivers Step Up

Next, we have a 3-leg parlay that shows some support to the Kansas City wide receivers, the position group that was looking to doom their season before they started cutting down the mistakes. Let’s just keep Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman out of it and everything should be fine.

  • Rashee Rice Over 67.5 Receiving Yards
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling Over 18.5 Receiving Yards
  • Patrick Mahomes 225+ Passing Yards

Rashee Rice was a rookie with limited snaps and a shrunken route tree earlier this season when the Chiefs were figuring out what they had at wide receiver. But in the last half of the year, he has stepped up and become the team’s new No. 1 wide receiver. He can catch it short, medium, and long for Mahomes. He has been a go-to target in the postseason, though he was held under 50 yards in the last two games. I also think the bye week will help him heal up after he was shaken up by injury in Buffalo and limping around a few times in Baltimore. He’ll be ready to go and produce against a San Francisco secondary that is the weakness in that defense.

What gives me confidence in this one is the wide receivers are how the Chiefs have been attacking the 49ers in past matchups. We know Tyreek Hill had the play of the game with his 44-yard catch on 3rd-and-15 in Super Bowl LIV. He’s gone, so someone else has to step up. Last year in San Francisco, it was Mahomes throwing for over 100 yards to both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) as he passed for 423 yards.

JuJu is gone, but that’s just an opportunity for Rice to step up. MVS has stepped up this postseason with catches of 32, 32, and 30 yards in the last two games. He was dropping those plays in the regular season, but like last year, he’s stepped up in the playoffs. Like we said, he also burned the 49ers for 111 yards last season, including a 57-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He just needs one opportunity downfield to go over 18.5 yards and I like him to get it.

Just don’t drop the ball like Josh Reynolds did for the Lions against these 49ers. If these two Kansas City receivers play well, then add in the contributions from Kelce, and Mahomes should have no problem clearing 225 passing yards to finish this one off. He has passed for at least 286 yards in all 3 matchups against the 49ers in his career.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Rashee Rice Over 67.5 Receiving Yards & Marquez Valdes-Scantling Over 18.5 Receiving Yards & Patrick Mahomes 225+ Passing Yards (+277 at FanDuel)

6. Role Reversal: San Francisco’s Comeback Game Script

So far, our picks have been very favorable to the Chiefs winning. But we would be remiss to not include a pick that details a winning script for the 49ers. In past meetings, the Chiefs have run away with the game in the fourth quarter. But this is not your normal Kansas City team, and the 49ers have shown this postseason an ability to come back in the second half after a slow start.

We have a 6-leg parlay to show that role reversal with the 49ers storming back this time to win the game:

  • Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer
  • Chrisian McCaffrey 5+ Receptions
  • Deebo Samuel 4+ Receptions
  • 49ers Over 12.5 2nd Half Points
  • Chiefs Under 10.5 2nd Half Points
  • 49ers ML

Any comeback for the 49ers is going to involve CMC finding the end zone and doing damage as a receiver. He’s had at least 5 catches in 9-of-18 games this season, and the Chiefs have shown some vulnerability to giving up those running back completions this postseason.

Likewise, Deebo Samuel is the right receiver to get the ball to in this matchup. Keep Brock Purdy away from testing corners L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie as much as possible, and someone like Samuel can catch a short pass and turn it into a big gain. We’ll take Deebo for at least 4 catches.

When it comes to scoring after halftime, this is where things get interesting. The Chiefs allowed the fewest points after halftime this year, but the 49ers scored the most after halftime. They scored 27 points after trailing the Lions 24-7 at halftime in the NFC Championship Game. The Chiefs have a better defense than Detroit (and Green Bay), but I can see the 49ers scoring a couple of touchdowns in this game after Purdy calms down. The offense is too talented, and McCaffrey should have a strong game against the weakness of the Kansas City run defense.

But if the 49ers are going to win, they have to shut Mahomes down in the second half. They did it for a quarter and a half in Super Bowl LIV, then he exploded, and the Chiefs scored 3 quick touchdowns to win 31-20. That can’t happen again.

But this year, the Chiefs fall from No. 6 in first half scoring to No. 29 in second half scoring, including 4 games where they were scoreless after halftime. That happened just twice to the Chiefs in 2018-22 combined. This also just happened in the AFC Championship Game when the Chiefs led 17-7 and had to hold on without scoring any more points.

Maybe this time they don’t hold on, and I like the under 10.5 here. The 49ers allowed the second-fewest points in the fourth quarter this year.

It should be a fascinating matchup with these splits and how the 49ers have had to come back after slow starts when they were such a front-running team in the regular season. Maybe this will revert back to old habits and the Chiefs make a comeback again. But I’m going with a San Francisco game script here. It’s worth a shot.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Christian McCaffrey 5+ Receptions & Deebo Samuel 4+ Receptions & 49ers Over 12.5 2nd Half Points & Chiefs Under 10.5 2nd Half Points & 49ers ML (+1257 at FanDuel)

7. The Final Parlay

For our final parlay and pick of the NFL’s 2023 season, we have a 7-leg parlay with +5565 odds that showcases some of the things we talked about above with a few more wrinkles to fit our vision of the game script:

  • Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown Scorer
  • Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer
  • Travis Kelce 90+ Receiving Yards (Alternate Line)
  • Christian McCaffrey Over 89.5 Rushing Yards
  • Under 51.5 Points (Alternate Line)
  • Chiefs +4.5 (Alternate Line)
  • Brandon Aiyuk Under 62.5 Receiving Yards

We have our No. 2 pick from above recycled with Kelce and McCaffrey scoring touchdowns, but that is important as we don’t have a final score that leaves room for a ton of touchdowns, so we want to make sure the top guys produce. That’s also why we have Kelce and McCaffrey both hitting 90 yards in their main prop. McCaffrey has done that in both playoff games and Kelce has actually had at least 70 yards in 12 straight playoff games. I trust him to play big in this Super Bowl, so we’re going up to 90 yards.

But these big Kelce and McCaffrey performances are still under the strict guidelines of having the total under 51.5 points with the Chiefs +4.5 on the spread.

Why 51.5? All 20 Kansas City games have finished under 51.5 points this season. We know they haven’t let anyone top 27 points, and I think that continues here. I also don’t think the Chiefs get to 30 points this time, and don’t forget this season has been loaded with unders hitting in island games. This should not be a 38-35 Super Bowl like last year.

We already picked the Chiefs to win multiple times above, but we just teased it out to Chiefs +4.5 to be safe here. You never know when they could drop a pass or have a turnover that loses the game by a small margin. But I truly do like the Chiefs to win this game.

Finally, our last leg is Brandon Aiyuk going under 62.5 yards. He has a tough matchup with Kansas City’s corners, who have held the likes of Stefon Diggs (twice), Tyreek Hill (twice), Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, and Keenan Allen under 62.5 yards this year. Aiyuk and Purdy have not looked great this postseason, and half of their yards this postseason came on a fluke 51-yard catch that should have been intercepted against Detroit. That’s why I think this is a down game for Aiyuk, and the ball will go more to McCaffrey, Deebo, and George Kittle.

Enjoy the game and let’s hope something hits.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Travis Kelce 90+ Receiving Yards & Christian McCaffrey Over 89.5 Rushing Yards & Under 51.5 Points & Chiefs +4.5 & Brandon Aiyuk Under 62.5 Receiving Yards (+5565 at FanDuel)

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