Super Bowl LVIII is a rematch, from 4 years ago, between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers when the Chiefs stormed back to win 31-20 behind Patrick Mahomes, the game’s MVP.
While that game is remembered for the Chiefs turning a 20-10 deficit into a 31-20 win in the 4th quarter, it was a 10-10 game at the end of the first 30 minutes, only the 4th Super Bowl that was tied at halftime. The game’s 1st touchdown scorer was Patrick Mahomes on a 1-yard run, something he has only done one other time in his career from that distance as the Chiefs are not a fan of the quarterback sneak.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is known for scripting his first 24 plays. The Chiefs are known for their 2nd-half adjustments as they allowed the fewest points after halftime this season.
Given what we know about these teams, there may be some good value for game props involving the first-half and first-quarter markets. We look at some of our favorite NFL picks at top-rated sportsbooks below for these markets for Super Bowl LVIII.
- Chiefs First-Quarter Team Total Over 0.5 (-180)
- Chiefs First Drive Outcome (2-Way) – Score (+140)
- First-Quarter Total Over 7.5 (-115)
- 49ers First-Half Team Total Over 12.5 (-105)
Sunday, February 11, 2024 – 06:30 PM ET at Allegiant Stadium
Chiefs’ Opening Drive Success
Let’s start with an easy one. While the 49ers have the reputation for their opening script, the Chiefs also do a fantastic job right out the gate, and with Andy Reid having a bye week to prepare, you can usually count on him to deliver something good.
Going back to their classic 42-36 playoff win over the Bills in the 2021 divisional round, the Chiefs have scored on their opening possession in 8 straight playoff games, including all 3 games this postseason.
Not only do the Chiefs score, but they have scored 6 touchdowns and 2 field goals on those 8 opening drives. Even in the game they lost during that stretch, the 2021 AFC Championship Game against Cincinnati, they still scored a touchdown right away. They also scored a touchdown to begin last year’s Super Bowl against Philadelphia with Travis Kelce catching the first one from Patrick Mahomes.
This Time Around
This postseason, the Chiefs braved the elements in the 4th-coldest game in NFL history and scored a touchdown against Miami. A week later in Buffalo, they were held to a field goal, but it was still another game-opening score for the offense.
In the AFC Championship Game in Baltimore, the Chiefs looked like all business on a brilliant opening drive that ended with another Kelce touchdown catch.
On the other side, the 49ers have been sluggish this postseason at the start of games. They fell behind 3-0 to Green Bay and were down 14-0 after missing a field goal against Detroit.
If you want a safe pick for this game, take the Chiefs to score over 0.5 points in the 1st quarter, meaning any score will do. But if you want better odds for something they have been doing for years in big games, then raise your pick to the Chiefs to score on their opening possession.
NFL Pick: Chiefs First-Quarter Total Over 0.5 (-180) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Chiefs First Drive Outcome (2-Way) – Score (+140) at Bet365
Start with a Bang
We just established with the previous pick that the Chiefs are a proficient team at scoring on opening drives, especially in big games. Their Super Bowl against the 49ers (2019) was 7-3 after a quarter, and they also trailed 7-3 after a quarter to the Buccaneers (2020), which was noteworthy since it was the only time in Tom Brady’s 10 Super Bowl starts that he led a touchdown drive in the opening quarter.
Last year, fans could barely get comfortable before Jalen Hurts and Kelce both scored touchdowns in the first 8 minutes of the game to produce a 7-7 score. That Super Bowl with the Eagles went on to end 38-35, the most points ever by a losing team in the Super Bowl.
This one likely won’t get up there like that, but it is more than reasonable that the 49ers can help the scoring along to get over 7.5 points, which is most likely to be done by a field goal and touchdown or both teams scoring touchdowns.
Pouncing On the Niners
We mentioned Detroit did pounce on the 49ers with a 14-0 lead last week in the opening quarter. We also saw the Bengals lead 14-7 after a quarter in San Francisco in Week 8 behind Joe Burrow’s best game of the season.
The 49ers have not faced many great quarterbacks this year, but some of those offenses have been productive against them right away as this defense is not as dominant as the 2019 or 2022 units.
Also, despite ranking No. 2 in points allowed, the Chiefs had some slow starts this year on defense and gave up early touchdowns to the likes of the Raiders, Packers, Bills, Eagles, and also the Ravens last week in the playoffs.
Last Time Around
The last time these teams met in 2022, the 49ers jumped out 10-0 and then led 10-7 after a quarter. Whether it’s a collective effort between the teams or if someone jumps out 10-0, we like the 1st quarter over to hit here.
NFL Pick: First-Quarter Total Over 7.5 (-115) at Bet365
Trust the 49ers to Flip the Script Back?
You can find a game prop for the 49ers to score over 12.5 points in the 1st half. This was light work for the team this regular season as they exceeded that number by halftime in 13-of-17 games. The 3-game losing streak in October when some key players were injured accounted for 3 out of the 4 times they didn’t meet the mark of 12.5 points in the opening half.
But in the playoffs, the 49ers have been sluggish to start games. They only led Green Bay 7-6 at the half in the divisional round and they were infamously down 24-7 at halftime against Detroit before tying the largest comeback win in NFC Championship Game history.
The 49ers have never been a big 2nd-half comeback team under Kyle Shanahan, who started coaching the team in 2017:
- San Francisco was 0-30 when trailing by 7+ points entering the 4th quarter before finally getting a win against the Packers in the divisional round.
- The 49ers were 1-27 when trailing by 14+ points in the 2nd half before getting a 2nd win against Detroit in the title game.
Shanahan is still 0-38 when trailing by 8+ points at any time in the 4th quarter, so maybe he is waiting for this Super Bowl to end that streak too.
But he is facing a tough Kansas City defense that held the Dolphins to a single touchdown and held the Ravens, another front-running team, to just 10 points last week.
The Chiefs tend to do their best work after halftime on defense. This year, the Chiefs have allowed 9-of-19 opponents to score over 12.5 points by halftime, including some less-than-proven quarterbacks in Aidan O’Connell (games of 14 and 17 points for the Raiders) and Jake Browning (17 points for the Bengals).
O’Connell rode his defense returning 2 Kansas City turnovers for touchdowns in 7 seconds to that score, but those points count all the same in bets like this.
The rookie also led his offense to over 210 yards on the opening 3 drives in Allegiant Stadium, the site of Super Bowl 58, in Week 12 against the Chiefs.
The 49ers have some matchup advantages against the Chiefs. They can run their offense through Christian McCaffrey as both a runner and receiver, and they have a stellar tight end in George Kittle. They also have Deebo Samuel, a unique talent who can run the ball like a running back and is extremely hard to tackle. You can throw him a short pass and watch him turn it into a 1st down or even a big play sometimes.
This is not going to be Brock Purdy repeatedly throwing into a very good secondary with corners Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed taking their turns with Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings. The 49ers can attack them with running backs and their tight end. You can see the success backs have been having on passes the last 2 weeks against the Chiefs, and McCaffrey is much better than the likes of James Cook, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.
Purdy Good or Purdy Bad?
The concern is Purdy melting down in the big game as you never know how someone this young is going to react in their first Super Bowl. The Chiefs have that big experience edge, especially at the most important position.
Purdy has shown an ability to calm down in these games and get the job done in the end. But we are going off the playoff script from the last 2 games and projecting the 49ers to be able to score over 12.5 points before halftime instead of lighting it up afterward for the 3rd game in a row.
NFL Pick: 49ers First-Half Team Total Over 12.5 (-105) at Bet365
*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.