One of the more curious angles of Super Bowl LVIII has been the spread and the unwavering support the San Francisco 49ers have from casinos and sportsbooks as the favorite. They opened as 1.5-point favorites and moved to 2-point favorites not long after. That position has held firm, despite many believing that the Kansas City Chiefs are the better team, thus gaining a majority of the action.
On DraftKings Sportsbook, 66% of bets and 63% of the money is on the Chiefs +2 (as of Feb. 9). You might be asking, what gives? Why haven’t things shifted towards Patrick Mahomes‘ team to lower the spread, make it a pick’em or even turn the Chiefs into the outright favorite? Let’s highlight a couple of possible reasons.
Balancing the books
This is probably the most logical reason why the Niners are still the favorites. Setting the line at Chiefs +2 is a very attractive number for bettors to bite on a team that has been playing better football over the last month. For sportsbooks and casinos, it’s also a savvy move to offset what is likely a tremendous amount of futures wagered on the 49ers to win this Super Bowl that were made before and throughout the year. San Francisco was among the betting favorites coming into the season, and as the weeks of the regular season played out, it quickly rose to the odds-on favorite (even after a home loss to Baltimore in Week 16) and held it basically from wire to wire.
If the sportsbooks were to set this line as a pick’em or even make K.C. the favorite, the books would be exposed to a big loss if the Niners were to come out on top. This number allows more action to come in on Kansas City, thus balancing the scales for the house. Of course, if so much action is laid on Kansas City that it then exposes the books on that end, the line will naturally move in the proper direction. Why the Niners were/are slim favorites could simply be a hedge against potential futures.
49ers may have a higher ceiling
This is likely more of a side factor than a true reason why they are the favorites, but noteworthy nonetheless. You can make the argument that when both of these teams are firing on all cylinders, the 49ers are the better all-around team. They’ve simply yet to play a complete game this postseason, and the oddsmakers could be of the mind that they’re due for a four-quarter effort that may come in Super Bowl LVIII.
They have an offense that can gash defenses in multiple ways with their array of skill position players and boast a defense that was among the very best in the league in 2023. They don’t have many dire weaknesses, unlike the Chiefs. If Kansas City’s wide receivers revert to their struggles from the regular season and drop passes, it could severely alter how big of a dent Patrick Mahomes can make on this game. That’s especially true if the San Francisco defense — that allowed the seventh-fewest yards per reception and second-fewest yards after the catch per reception in the league in 2023 — contains Travis Kelce.
While the teams that own the better overall record (like the 49ers do over the Chiefs) are just 1-15 ATS in the Super Bowl since 2003, San Francisco has also been a strong bet as of late away from Levi’s Stadium. In their last five road games, the Niners are 5-0 ATS and SU, so they’ve been a trustworthy favorite to oddsmakers.