Patrick Mahomes may have wrapped up MVP after incredible win vs Ravens

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The more I watch Patrick Mahomes, the more I find myself saying, as I did Sunday night: Relax now. Fourteen starts. That’s all he’s done. Fourteen games.

Mostly, I’m okay doing that, okay with respecting the process. No quarterback is great after 14 games. But then I listen to what Andy Reid says about him, and then I watch fourth-and-nine with the undisputed lead of the AFC West on the line, and I think maybe it’s okay to speed up on the road to greatness for the kid. Because Mahomes was Favre-in-his-prime spectacular Sunday at Arrowhead in the 27-24 win over Baltimore. This kid can throw from every angle with accuracy—over the top, three-quarter, pure sidearm, and even no-look jobs. He’s got some Omar Vizquel in him. Fitting that, last month, when I talked to his dad, former big-league pitcher Pat Mahomes, he told me these weird and accurate throws are the same types younger Patrick would make playing shortstop as a Texas teen.

That play first. The fourth-and-nine play, down 24-17, with 1:29 left in the fourth quarter at the KC 40-yard line. I’ve seen it 25 times by now. I can recite it by heart. Mahomes, flushed from the pocket back around his 30-yard line, chased by Za’Darius Smith and Brandon Williams of the Ravens, now running laterally toward the right sideline at the 28. In a dead sprint, actually. Smith, surprisingly fast for 275 pounds. Mahomes, at the 30 yard-marker on the field, veered slightly upfield as he wound up to throw on the run, to throw somewhere. “His eyes connected with my eyes,” Hill told me afterward. “In that situation, you’re just thinking, ‘Stay alive, stay alive! Let him see you.’ “

Crazy thing was, 39 yards downfield, and just approaching the left hashmark running a crosser to get within range, Hill had two Ravens on him. And Hill was a wounded animal. “My foot’s bad,” he’d say after the game.

Mahomes pulled the ball way back. As Smith’s hands were inches from beginning a hard shove of Mahomes out of bounds, Mahomes flung the ball with a strong flick to a target about 39 yards downfield and another 30 yards to his sharp left, past the center of the field, aiming for a spot right near the left hash.

“I knew he had a chance,” Mahomes said of Hill. “I always say he’d be the best center fielder of all time from the way he tracks the ball.”

Splat! Down went Mahomes, hard, at his own 37-yard line near the right boundary. Desperation heave. The ball was coming down just inside the left hash at the Baltimore 27-yard line. Linebacker C.J. Mosley dove at Hill as the ball hit his hands. But Hill, even with the bum foot, was too quick for Mosley and the trailing corner, Jimmy Smith. Hill skittered toward the right sideline and went out of bounds, limping on the bum wheel, at the 12-yard line.

Gain of 48.

“Our people did a tremendous job wrapping my foot,” Hill said. “I was still feeling my heel, but at the same time, I knew that man, if you want the W, if you want to be a great receiver, this is your moment to make plays.”

Felt like a formality after that. Chiefs tied it on a short TD strike by Mahomes with 53 seconds left, then won it in overtime on a Harrison Butker field goal.

There were other ridiculous throws from the shortstop. The no-look throw across his body to the left, to wideout Demarcus Robinson for 17 yards late in the first half, elicited this from the CBS broadcast team:

Tony Romo: “It’s almost a no-look! That’s incredible!”
Jim Nantz: “No-look sidearm!”
Romo:“Watching him … [giddy Romo voice] How do you not like watching him play!”

Just then, on the next snap, Mahomes evaded three Ravens and spied Kareem Hunt-replacement Spencer Ware gamboling up the left sideline. Mahomes pushed a sidearm laser into a small gap, right into Ware’s hands. Gain of 31.

“The things he does, it’s hard to practice that,” said Mosley.

Last month, I spent time with Reid after a win over Arizona. We went back to the Favre days, when he was the gunslinger’s quarterback coach for a time in Green Bay. History’s repeating. “I was lucky enough to coach Brett Favre, who was able to throw from every angle possible. I’ve seen it done before. But [now I] just go, ‘Whoa,’ a lot during the game, as you did. You just have to remind yourself that it’s a football in his hand because he does it so easy with grace.

“Certain guys just know where everybody is on the field. And he has that. He can just go on a play, and he sees. They talk about Ted Williams and that feel. He’s got that … He can see everything, feel everything.”

You got the feeling Sunday that this win meant a little more to the Chiefs. On one snap, Mahomes saw 11 Ravens within three yards of the line. Cover zero and then some. Who does that? Who says, We’re going to blitz the tar out of you. Complete it downfield if you have time—and you won’t. Baltimore did. On one of those plays, Mahomes just folded himself into a spot just behind the line, surrendering. But not for long.

This game will be terrific for Mahomes, because he had to play in a very uncomfortable situation. Seems like he loved it, because it forced him to learn. Other teams—starting with the 10-3 Chargers on Thursday night at Arrowhead—will go to school on what made Mahomes uncomfortable. Mahomes knows. It’s part of the chess games.

“These are the best wins,” Mahomes said. “These are the wins that satisfy you the most.”

They get bigger as it gets colder, kid.

MORE: Read Peter King’s full Football Morning Morning in America column by clicking here

Patriots settle as small favorites on Super Bowl odds 2019

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For all the narratives that can hang off the great Tom Brady and Super Bowl first-timer Jared Goff, two of the big moving parts in the matchup on Super Sunday involve the rushing phase.

The New England Patriots have settled as 2.5-point favorites on the Super Bowl odds 2019 against the Los Angeles Rams with a 56.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Super Bowl 53 matchup slated for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday.

The Bill Belichick- and Brady-led Patriots are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, while the Rams are 4-3 straight-up and ATS in their last seven games as an underdog. Interestingly enough, underdogs are 13-4 ATS in the last 17 Super Bowl games.

As so often happens, the last two teams standings are in good health. The biggest exception for New England, whose run defense has been league-average much of the season, is that defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) was limited in practice. The Rams claim leading rusher Todd Gurley (left knee inflammation) is 100 per cent after he had only five touches during the NFC championship game two weeks ago.

Backing the Patriots, who are 13-5 SU and 11-7 ATS on the year, involves putting stock in Brady and cohorts’ abundant Super Bowl experience, along with the fact the offense has been at peak form, averaging 38.7 points and 465.7 yards per game over its last three outings.

The Patriots’ offensive line will arguably be the unofficial playoff MVP, collectively, if it contains the Rams’ front four anchored by Aaron Donald, the best defensive lineman in football. If Brady, the subject of many Super Bowl props for Sunday, isn’t disrupted and/or the opposing pass rush is sucking wind after a ball-control drive, the Patriots passing game is lethal.

The Rams, 15-3 SU and 9-7-2 ATS, are new to the tumult of the Super Bowl. However, head coach Sean McVay thrives at creating mismatches, and two of the Rams’ season-long strengths, running out one-back, one-tight end sets and using play-action passes, are not tactics that New England has defended particularly well.

Goff also led five game-winning drives during the season, emerging victorious in quarterback matchups against stars such as Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson (twice).

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last eight games in the playoffs. New England’s last four closely contested playoff games have featured 68, 74, 44 and 62 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

First commercial, Trump Tweets, Gatorade color among Super Bowl LIII props

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Fans watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game, which also lends itself to Super Bowl props.

For instance, Bud Light is the -105 favorite have a commercial appear first during the telecast at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The brewer has a long track record of attention-getting ads, and making a first impression can whet the appetite for something later on in the evening.

Budweiser (+200) is a second favorite on that prop and there might be longshot value on Stella Artois (+550), whose ad will include Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker reprising their respective roles from The Big Lebowski and Sex and the City. Michelob Ultra (+550) and Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer (+550) are also on the board.

The total number of commercials is set at 96, with both the over and under priced at -120. In the car commercial prop, Hyundai (-250) is favored against Mercedes-Benz (+170), but it might be worth playing a hunch since the February 3 game is at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Atlanta has also been hit by wintry weather this week, and it’s -140 on the Super Bowl 2019 prop bets on the stadium’s roof being closed against even money for open.

The previous two championship matchups each had over 60 points scored, and the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams are certainly capable of trading touchdowns. It is -140 that any scoring drive will consume less game time than however long it will take Gladys Knight to perform The Star-Spangled Banner.

As far as coach props, the over/under is 1.5 on broadcaster references to the relative youthfulness of 33-year-old Rams coach Sean McVay, with the over (-220) favored against the under (+155). Los Angeles is the underdog on the 2019 Super Bowl odds.

There is also a total set for the number of tweets from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account during the big game. Over 6.0 tweets is a -140 favorite with the under an even-money underdog. It is -650 on Trump not attending the game and +375 on him showing up. He did not attend Super Bowl LII in 2018.

A cross-sport bet is whether Houston Rockets star James Harden’s streak of 30-point games – 24 and counting – will end before Super Bowl LIII does, with -120 odds either way. Harden’s next two opponents, the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, have each managed to keep him under 30 at least once this season.

As far as props that pay off postgame are concerned, there is the ever-popular bet on what color liquid the winning coach will be doused in after the game. Clear / water (+220) is a slim favorite over lime / green / yellow (+225), followed by orange (+400), blue (+400), red (+600) and purple (+1000). The Patriots, for what it might be worth, have poured a clear liquid on coach Bill Belichick following each of their four most recent Super Bowl wins.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.