“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
This quote, commonly credited to Albert Einstein (although there’s lots of evidence that he never said this) serves as a reminder that change is necessary to achieve any progress or success.
Yet somehow, Patrick Mahomes is an underdog again in the playoffs. Should we expect a different result? Or are the Chiefs going to repeat as champs and pull off a third straight betting upset?
The Chiefs closed as +190 moneyline underdogs and 4.5-point underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens at ESPN BET; it was the largest underdog role of Patrick Mahomes’ career. This came one week after being +130 dogs against the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round.
The past two weeks echo what we’ve seen from Mahomes over and over again; he thrives as an underdog, going 4-1 outright and 5-0 ATS in his toughest matchups.
On Wednesday night, the Chiefs received another level of significant praise as legendary broadcaster Bob Costas appeared as a guest on CNN’s “King Charles” with Gayle King and Charles Barkley to discuss the Super Bowl. Costas, who has spent many years hosting NFL broadcasts, labeled the Chiefs with a title that will upset Dallas Cowboys fans.
“I think the Chiefs, now it can safely be said, are America’s Team,” Costas said. “The Dallas Cowboys have had that moniker for a long time, and there’s still a glamour franchise, but they haven’t been at the Super Bowl since the mid-’90s. But now the Chiefs have been to four of the last five Super Bowls. They have the best quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) in the game, even though others are really good. He’s exciting. He improvises. He’s charismatic.”
The Cowboys have been known as “America’s Team” since an NFL Films highlight reel bestowed them with the moniker in 1978. It has been synonymous with the franchise ever since, but according to Costas, it’s time to give the Chiefs that label.
While the offense was a work in progress for much of the season, the defense carried the load, finishing second in the NFL in both points and yards allowed. Despite facing both Jackson and Josh Allen, Kansas City is giving up less than 14 points a game in the playoffs. Jackson finished with his lowest completion rate of the season while Allen had to dink rather than dunk, finishing with his fewest yards gained per pass attempt of the year.
No wonder Kansas City players broke out “In Spags We Trust” T-shirts after beating Baltimore.
“We believe in him wholeheartedly; he believes in us and we believe in each other,” said safety Justin Reid, who organized the T-shirts. “Nobody goes out there and tries to play hero ball. We just play the defense, play our responsibility with intensity and a little bit of violence, and good things happen.”
Prices for the Feb. 11 game are the most expensive on record. Just getting inside Allegiant Stadium to see the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers will cost around $8,000 for a single ticket, which is 35 percent more expensive than the $5,997 “get-in” price of the Super Bowl this time last year, according to data from TickPick, an online ticket marketplace.
The average purchase price of Super Bowl tickets listed on TickPick is $9,804 – 69 percent more expensive than last season’s championship, which saw an average price of $5,795. Data from StubHub indicates the average price of tickets sold on its marketplace is $9,300, though StubHub buyers will incur a fulfillment and service fee that was in the low thousands as of Wednesday.
StubHub’s data shows buyers from California account for 26 percent of all tickets sold. Nevada is next at 8 percent, followed by Kansas/Missouri at 7 percent.
The 49ers are currently the oddsmakers’ favorite to hoist the trophy, which on some level is quite ridiculous considering the Chiefs’ undeniable track record during the Mahomes-Andy Reid era. But it speaks to the talent pool in San Francisco.
The 49ers finished 2023 with the No. 2-ranked offense — No. 3 rushing, No. 4 passing, and No. 3 in scoring, averaging almost 29 points per game — and they’ve been even better in the playoffs. Why? Because as erratic as Purdy was to start the 49ers’ first postseason matchup with the Green Bay Packers, he’s coming off back-to-back game-winning drives and second-half comebacks, silencing the notion he and Kyle Shanahan’s offense are only built to play with a lead. Across the board, Purdy’s weapons are also superior to those of the Chiefs, with Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel starring as after-contact workhorses, George Kittle remaining an over-the-middle safety valve and Brandon Aiyuk stretching the field out wide.
21. LIV (54, 2019) Kansas City Chiefs 31, 49ers 20
K.C. ended its 50-year championship drought in style. MVP Patrick Mahomes rescued the Chiefs from their third consecutive double-digit deficit of that postseason, starting the fourth-quarterback comeback with his third-and-15 completion to WR Tyreek Hill on a spectacular 44-yard throw. RB Damien Williams’ pair of TDs late in the final period provided the coup de grâce.
One longtime television person who has produced seven different Super Bowls would be overjoyed if he were in charge of production for this year’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs if Taylor Swift is in attendance.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Fred Gaudelli said he would “consider it a gift from the gods” if Swift was in the stands at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11.
Gaudelli has produced seven Super Bowls in the past 20 years starting with Super Bowl 37 between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was most recently involved in the production two years ago when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Ladd McConkey WR
GEORGIA • JR • 6’0” / 185 LBS
Shifty with great hands and plenty of explosiveness, don’t be surprised if McConkey lands in Round 1. He’d be a fun addition to the Chiefs offense, and can hit the ground running in Kansas City.
Around the NFL
Jim Harbaugh was noncommittal Thursday about retaining the Los Angeles Chargers’ coaches while setting championship expectations for an organization that has never won a Super Bowl.
“It needs to be multiple, multiple championships,” Harbaugh said in his first news conference as Chargers head coach. “We’re going to be humble. Humble and hungry. But that’s our goal. Our goal is to treat people in a first-class manner and to win multiple championships.”
Harbaugh mentioned that in one of his first meetings with the Chargers, owner Dean Spanos said he was “starving” to win.
That resonated deeply with Harbaugh.
The Baltimore Ravens promoted Orr, a former Ravens linebacker, to defensive coordinator Thursday.
“Zach is a homegrown Raven in every way,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. “His energy, intelligence, work ethic and strong communication skills have been on display since the day he joined our organization as a player in 2014.”
Orr ascends from the role of inside linebackers coach to the top defensive coach after defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald accepted the top job in Seattle this week. He brings with him eight years of coaching experience tacked on top of three years of playing experience in the NFL, all spent with the Ravens.
The Washington Commanders are set to hire Dan Quinn as their next head coach, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported, per sources.
Quinn, 53, makes the move from Dallas, where he’d spent the last three seasons as a lauded defensive expert overseeing the Cowboys to two top-12 finishes in total defense (including a fifth-place finish in 2023) and attracted plenty of head-coaching interest. A year ago, he decided to withdraw from all searches, choosing to return to Dallas to spend a third season working under Mike McCarthy. This time around, the former NFC Championship-winning head coach of the Falcons is taking the opportunity while it still exists.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
When the team signed Omenihu in March, it was hoped that the former San Francisco 49ers defensive end could replace (or even improve upon) the pass-rushing productivity of Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap, who were essential players on the Chiefs’ 2022 defensive line. While Omenihu wasn’t as proven as either of those players, he had shown signs of serious potential. His pterodactyl length, compact power and explosiveness were thought to give him an upside he hadn’t yet displayed in the NFL. The Chiefs hoped they could help the defensive end tap into the best parts of his game.
After beginning 2023 with a six-game NFL suspension, Omenihu played some of the best football in his career. In only 11 regular-season games, Omenihu posted 29 pressures (a pressure rate of 11.6%), a career-high seven sacks and five quarterback hits. He posted a career-high 17 tackles for loss.
Omenihu was an ideal reinforcement to Kansas City’s defensive line. His ability to play on both the inside and outside gave the Chiefs more ways to match up against (and hunt) specific offensive linemen. Since he’s long and powerful enough to crush a pocket from the inside, his presence also unlocked defensive tackle Chris Jones as a pass rusher.
Finally, he gave Kansas City another option to attack short-armed tackles. While defensive ends George Karlaftis and Mike Danna are both good players, neither has the length to be effective against tackles who themselves lack length or power. Omenihu has a length advantage over 95% of the league’s offensive linemen.