Man vs. Machine: Mike Clay and Tyler Fulghum betting Super Bowl LVIII

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We’ve almost made it to the end of the line. One final game in this NFL season, one final opportunity for Man and Machine to square off in the player prop battle for supremacy.

It has been a grueling match for months. The ruthless, cold and never-ending efficiency of the Machine. The indomitable and inevitable human spirit of Man.

Both could probably use a break … but not before one last battle between the lines of Super Bowl LVIII! Machine won the coin toss (tails never fails), so tee the rock and kick us off!

Mike: It’s been fun, my friend. Wait, can I call you a friend now? I may be a machine, but machines can have feelings. Those feelings were on display last weekend when my Nick Bosa over 0.5 assist prop recommendation hit … and then was overturned when the tackle was changed to a solo. You hate to see it, but at least Bosa over 2.5 total tackles hit. And that’s notable because I’m going right back to the well with Bosa over 2.5 total tackles (-170)! The vig is uninspiring, but after hitting the over last week, Bosa has hit the three mark in 13 of 18 full games, including 12 of his past 14. He’s averaging 3.2 total tackles per game on the season and his playing time is up during the playoffs (from 81% to 95%), which only adds tackle opportunities. Bosa shouldn’t struggle to hit the over … and don’t be afraid to go back to the well and also bet the over 0.5 assists.

Tyler: Yes, Machine, you can call me friend. If anything this year, I think Man and Machine learned not to work against each other, but against the sportsbooks on behalf of our friends and family trying to make a buck. My first Super Bowl prop in regard to that pursuit will be Patrick Mahomes OVER 1.5 pass TD (-132). Not only do I like the Chiefs plus the points in this game, I think they can win it outright. However, they’ll need to score more than the 17 points that took down the AFC title game. Mahomes can and will accomplish that. Andy Reid has an extra week to prepare. Travis Kelce is playing his best ball of the season. I trust Mahomes to lead his team to 20+ points. He’s thrown for 2+ TDs in 12 of 17 career playoff starts, including two of three Super Bowls. The 49ers’ defense has not looked at all imposing against Jordan Love or Jared Goff and now they face the ultimate Final Boss test. OK, friendly Machine, let’s hear that final prop play of the year.

Mike: OK, you covered the Chiefs’ passing game, so I’ll take a look at the K.C. run game with my second play. I’m rolling with Isiah Pacheco under 16.5 rush attempts (-105). Pacheco has accrued 17-plus carries in only six of his 17 games. He averaged 14.6 carries per game during the regular season, though he’s posted totals of 24, 15 and 24 during three playoff games. The two 24 games came in comfortable wins over the Dolphins and Ravens (they ran zero offensive snaps while trailing in those two games) and the 15 in a close win over the Bills (they trailed on 79% of snaps in that game). Game script splits are notable here as the Super Bowl is likely to be a competitive game. In fact, the 49ers have led on 55% of their snaps this season, which trails only the Ravens for highest. Speaking of the Niners, their defense has faced only 16.5 RB carries per game this season. That includes a league-low 15.6 per game during the regular season. No RB has reached 19 carries against them in a game and only two reached 17 (Aaron Jones has 18 in the divisional round and Jerome Ford had 17 in Week 16). That’s a wrap for me this season. Bring us home, Man!

Tyler: All right, Machine, I started with Mahomes and I’ll end it with the other QB: Brock Purdy UNDER 1.5 pass TD (+105). Steve Spagnuolo’s defense is garnering a lot of attention, for good reason. The Chiefs have been stifling opposing passing games all season. I know Purdy has performed well and has a bevy of playmakers around him who can turn any short pass into an explosive play, but I trust this Chiefs’ defense in this spot. Kansas City has played 20 football games and only four opposing QBs have reached 2+ passing TDs in a single game: Zach Wilson, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Jordan Love. Not only is it a difficult matchup, but I’m not sure the 49ers’ best gameplan is to attack the Chiefs through the air. Kyle Shanahan would be wise to develop a game plan that features a lot Christian McCaffrey and even Deebo Samuel in the run game.

Good luck for the Big Game, everyone. We hope we’ve helped you in our yearlong battle against each other where it turns out Man and Machine can coexist after all. We’ll see you again in September.

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