There are two schools of thought when it comes to momentum: Either it exists, or it doesn’t. It’s easy to see in hindsight when a team has been running hot or cold but, in the moment? Maybe it’s just dumb luck that’s keeping a team on or off the winning track – and luck always evens out in the long run.
The analytics crowd is more likely to give momentum the side-eye. They tend to see elite athletes as machines that shake off adversity and produce at a somewhat consistent level, rather than get steamrolled by the opposition. Meanwhile, casual fans are more likely to assume that hot teams stay hot, and cold teams stay cold, just like the two sides of a McDLT.
Speaking of blasts from the past, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers are back in the Super Bowl. In case momentum does exist, which of these teams has “it” heading into the Big Game?
And more specifically, which players are on a roll as we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday on February 11? We go over some players that could make a difference so that you can make informed wagers at the top betting sites.
Heat Check: Kansas City
There’s no question the defending champions are on the good foot. Kansas City is on a five-game winning streak SU and ATS, upsetting Buffalo (-2.5) and Baltimore (-4.5) on the road in the past two playoff rounds. Those were the top two seeds in the AFC.
Things didn’t look nearly this good for K.C. back in Week 14. They lost 20-17 to the Bills as 1-point home faves, after a Kadarius Toney offsides penalty negated what would have been the go-ahead score – and the champs nearly melted down. They whined afterward about how they were unfairly maligned by the officials, even though the penalty was obvious.
Adversity or Scrutiny?
Maybe that was the adversity Kansas City needed to circle the wagons – or maybe it was the backlash they received from fans and pundits alike for complaining. Either way, the champs are on the upswing.
Looking specifically at QB Patrick Mahomes, the two-time league and Super Bowl MVP has posted a passer rating of at least 100 on eight occasions; that includes both playoff victories over the Bills and Ravens. TE Travis Kelce also caught touchdown passes in both games, breaking a seven-game streak where Mr. Swift failed to find the end zone.
Defense Wins Championships
As for the K.C. defense, the champs have allowed more than 20 points just once in their past eight games – that was against Buffalo in the Divisional Round. They’ve been great all year, but they really started tightening the thumbscrews after disappointing losses to Philadelphia (+2.5 away) in Week 11 and Green Bay (+6 at home) in Week 13.
We should also note that Kansas City PK Harrison Butker hasn’t missed a kick since Week 15. But then again, he’s only missed two all season, going 40-of-42 on field goals and 38-of-38 on PATs. And if any player on the field is immune to the vagaries of momentum, it’s going to be the robo-kickers.
Heat Check: San Francisco
The Niners have that winning feeling themselves after claiming yet another NFC title, but their road to Paradise has been a lot more bumpy. They failed to beat the spread in either of their playoff games, beating Green Bay (+10.5 away) and Detroit (+7.5 away) by three points each.
Things didn’t look all that great for San Francisco at the end of the regular season, either. After dominating the league over the first five weeks, the wheels started to come off; injuries were part of the reason they limped to the finish line at 1-2 SU and ATS over their last three games.
So was Brock Purdy. After briefly reaching the top of the NFL MVP futures market, Purdy had his worst game of the season (42.6 passer rating) on Christmas Day versus Baltimore. Then he posted an 86.7 rating against the Packers, and an 89.0 versus the Lions – a game where Purdy needed the prolate spheroid to bounce his way multiple times for San Fran to climb back on top.
We also have to wonder if rookie Niners PK Jake Moody is ready for battle. He went 2-for-3 on figgies against Detroit, after going 1-for-2 against Green Bay; this was after Moody put up a goose egg in Week 18, honking his lone FG and PAT attempts versus the L.A. Rams. What can we tell you – when you’re hot, you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re not.