Super Bowl 55 is on the board for New Jersey online sports bettors, dripping with intrigue for the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers and favored Kansas City Chiefs.
William Hill sent out a press release during Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game announcing a Super Bowl betting line of Kansas City -3 and the over-under of 57, which moved early to 56.5. Other NJ online sportsbooks followed soon after, giving bettors some separation to handicap with.
FanDuel Sportsbook opened its over-under of 57.5 and DraftKings had the line at Kansas City-3.5. Ahh, some line-shopping already. And there will be more to come over the next two weeks.
Here is some of the compelling overview for the big game.
William Hill + notable future bets
Some William Hill customers are on the brink of being awarded for having some major foresight. Even though these wagers were not placed in the Garden State, these bets provide a small sampling of what’s likely to come.
William Hill reported a $40,000 wager made on Jan. 2, with the Bucs at +1200, to win the Super Bowl. That’s a gutsy leap, as the Bucs had to win three road contests and beat the N0. 1 and NO. 2 seeds. The bet would return $480,000.
Another wager was made on Jan. 1 for $115,000 on the Chiefs at +150. It would net $172,500.
How about this one from last June? A bettor put $7,500 on the Bucs and it would net $112,500.
Most of the NJ online sportsbooks report the Bucs as their biggest Super Bowl liability. When Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay in March, books took money on Tampa Bay from 50-1 all the way down to 14-1.
Tampa Bay gets wagering love in each game too. FanDuel reported that it paid out more than $1.8 million Sunday as part of an odds boost featuring Mike Evans to score the first TD at +470 with a max bet of $50.
Super Bowl 55: Closer look at Chiefs vs. Bucs
The Bucs will be the first team to play on its home field in a Super Bowl. Ironically, it’s Tampa Bay’s first home game of the postseason. The Bucs advanced to the Big Game by winning at Washington, at New Orleans and at Green Bay. And now they get to enjoy a home-field Super Bowl.
Kansas City, which bludgeoned a game Buffalo Bills team in the AFC conference final, tries to become the first Super Bowl champion to repeat since the New England Patriots did it in the 2005 game. And that victory canoe against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Who quarterbacked the last team to do it? Brady, who goes for the Bucs in his record 10th Super Bowl. He has six Super Bowl rings.
Brady and Patrick Mahomes are the last two quarterbacks to win the Big Game. This is a Super Bowl matchup that has never happened before. Brady earned it for the Patriots two years ago, Mahomes won for the Chiefs last year.
Call it the old guard versus the new guard, with 25-year-old Mahomes battling the 43-year-old Brady
Kansas City edged Tampa Bay on this field, 27-24 in late November. It’s the last time the Bucs have lost. They have won seven straight, including the playoffs.
Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, now running the show in Kansas City, faces his one-time defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who is Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator.
Both teams showed championship pedigree to punch their respective Super Bowl tickets.
Chiefs looking for second straight Super Bowl
Mahomes made the big plays superstars are expected to in the win over Buffalo.
Perhaps his best two came back-to-back.
With Kansas City leading 14-9 in the second quarter, he was trapped in the backfield on an important possession. However, Mahomes avoided what looked like a certain sack, he faked the defender out and completed a long pass.
And the same thing happened one play later.
Two would-be sacks had turned into 44 Kansas City yards. Instead of punting, the Chiefs scored a touchdown. They went up 21-9 and never looked back.
The Bills played well in the championship game, but faltered inside the Kansas City 10-yard line when they were still in the game.
The Bill were stopped twice, late in the second quarter and midway through the third period, settling for field goals.
And although Bills quarterback Josh Allen played well, he took a pair of huge sacks. In each case, he would have saved chunks of yards by throwing the ball away.
Uniform changed, but Brady does it again
In Tampa’s 31-26 triumph over the Green Bay Packers, the Bucs were one big play ahead of the Packers the entire game. Yes, the Tampa Bay defense sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and played well. However, this game was decided on third-down performance. The Bucs made the big plays, the Packers did not.
Green Bay trailed literally every time its offense took the field. They never even had the ball with the game tied, even though it dominated the time of possession (34:37 to 25:23).
The Packers defense could never get off the field when it had to.
Three big second-quarter developments and an early third-quarter turnover decided the game.
With the score tied 7-7, Tampa Bay had third and long and Brady hoisted a bomb. One defender was ready to knock it away. But Chris Godwin leaped up and took it for a 52-yard gain. One play later, the deflated Packer defense could not halt Leonard Fournette. They had stopped him in the backfield, but he bounced off and rumbled for a 20-yard score.
In two plays, Green Bay had gone from a likely defensive stop to a 14-7 deficit.
Green Bay could not reach the end zone on the following possession after getting inside the Tampa Bay 10.
And it’s hard to forget about the first backbreaker. What could Green Bay have been thinking about on the last play of the first half?
Trailing 14-10, the Packers allowed a 39-yard scoring from Brady to Scotty Miller on the final play. Tampa Bay had no timeouts. No place to go but the sidelines.
Call it an inexplicable defensive lapse.
When it happened to the New York Jets against the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this season, the Jets fired their defensive coordinator. This is on the same level.
And then came the Green Bay turnover to start the second half. That led to another Tampa Bay touchdown and a 28-10 lead.
The Packers clawed back, but missed a two-point conversion on a dropped ball after coming within 28-23.
Trailing 31-23 later, Rodgers passed up a possible open run to the end zone and fired an incomplete pass. The Packers kicked a field goal and never got the ball back.
Green Bay was for a pass interference call on the final Tampa Bay possession. Prior to the penalty, the referees had let pass-interference infractions go all day.The pass looked uncatchable and the flag came in quite late, essentially closing out the game.
Otherwise, the Packers would have gotten the ball back, with timeouts.
All of that said, Brady was masterful for Tampa Bay on third-down passes, even after the Packers got back into the game.
And now it’s Brady-Mahomes. Let the Super Bowl 55 excitement begin.
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps