The Longshot: Mahomes and the Chiefs saving us an arm and a leg

The Longshot: Mahomes and the Chiefs saving us an arm and a leg

Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes points the way to his third Super Bowl after beating the Cincinnati Bengals.

WHEN I took up typing these pages again last September, I knew the day would come when there would be nothing in the well. It’s not that there is literally nothing in the sporting world to bang on about, it’s just you reach Monday lunchtime and you feel a bit like a cowboy sat on a horse with his hands tied behind his back, a noose around his neck, surrounded by a group of sweaty and swarthy black hats getting ready to slap some hindquarters and shout ‘yeehaw’.

Of course, I could have been writing about a 25/1 winner, except Elena Rybakina surrendered a set advantage to go down in the Australian Open final to Aryna Sabalenka. That’s early Saturday morning hangover viewing I don’t want to sit through again.

But this space needs to be filled and it’s time to get back on the horse and go again, or at least shout after the horse, get him to trot back to my dangling legs and chew through the rope just like I taught him.

Then its time to hunt those dastardly cackling no-goods, i.e. find some decent value in this week’s spots betting markets.

We have the Six Nations returning next weekend, but that probably needs some more research from my side so we will wait until Friday morning to investigate that further.

We did actually go close enough with a 26/1 shout before the weekend. Man City were tipped to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the cup (they won 1-0), along with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs to make the Super Bowl (which they both did).

The Chiefs of course were our 9/2 shot at the start of the season to lift a second title in four years in a fortnight in Glendale, Arizona.

They are slight 11/10 underdogs for the big Bowl, against 5/6 for the side from Pennsylvania, who last won when stunning Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2017 with a back-up quarterback. They benefited from facing back-up quarterbacks themselves last Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers’ luck in that area eventually ran out.

Jalen Hurts is the Eagles’ QB, but ‘hurts’ was also the theme for the 49ers in that position this season. We wrote a few weeks back about how their first- and second-choice men (Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo) got season-ending injuries, thus meaning they had to parachute in the last (but not least) draft pick from last April, Brock Purdy, who upended expectations by winning every game he started and guided San Fran to an unlikely NFC Championship game. And what happens in that of course except he picks up an elbow injury in their first drive down the field.

So in steps the replacement for the replacement for the replacement, Josh Johnson. Who before very long suffers a concussion.

The 49ers had to finish the game with their full-back Christian McCaffrey (who did throw one pass) calling running plays late in the game from the clutch position, with Purdy stepping in occasionally to not throw the ball either.

Proving you can win with an injured quarterback were the Chiefs. Their AFC Championship game with the Cincinnati Bengals was built up as a battle royale between the two best arms in NFL, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. It was the former’s legs that were the issue, as he came into the game with only the full use of one of them and a knock early on Sunday evening meant he was limited in what he could do with them once in possession.

The duel did not live up to last year but it was still incredible to see two such brilliant athletes at the top of their game (and one overcoming a bad injury to guide his team through - and keep us in with a shout).

Season could do with more McIlroy-Reed clashes

IT BEGAN with throwing tees and almost turned on looking up trees.

Controversy tends to follow former Masters champ Patrick Reed around like a bad smell.

Following his tossing a wooden LIV tee in Rory McIlroy’s direction on the practice range in the UAE last week, we mentioned Reed has come in for some grief from golf viewers eager to point out he might not be up to the usual standards of golfing honour.

Which brings us to the third round of the Dubal Desert Classic, when Reed’s tee shot on the 17th landed in a palm tree and got lodged. Reed said he could see his ball up there and thus was entitled to a penalty drop underneath it. Without ID’ing it (he claimed he could see his markings when handed a spyglass by a tournament official), Reed would have had to return to the tee to play his third.

Social media, as it tends to do in these matters, lit up when footage showed Reed’s ball landing in a different tree to the one he took the drop beside.

Shrugging off accusations of doing anything improper, Reed went on a fine run of birdies and an eagle yesterday morning and was tied with McIlroy (who else?) after sinking another birdie on the 18th.McIlroy followed him in with one after just avoiding the water (which has scuppered him over again on this hole in this tournament) to claim a one-shot win, his first ever win in his first tournament of his season.

It looks like McIlroy, with a new driver in his bag, will carry some of his fantastic form from last year over to this one.

It’s a shame there won’t be many duels with the LIV player Reed, as their tetchy relationship (along with others’) is just the sort of box office golf needs.

The season looks most likely to be one dominated by the contest between the Down man and Jon Rahm. If one of them doesn’t win a major this year I’ll eat a whole edition of The Echo.

The Pebble Beach Pro-Am has lost some of its lustre in recent years and only one player in the Top 10 competes in the event this year as the PGA Tour continues to head up the California coast.

Jordan Spieth and US Open holder MattFitzpatrick are joint favourites at 9/1 with last year’s 66/1 winner Tom Hoge is a 20/1 shot this time.

Galloping Gustavs

THERE are three horses with “Mahler” in their name appearing at Limerick racecourse tomorrow. All sired by the Coolmore stallion of that name, who was in turn sired by their Derby hero Galileo.

Storm Mahler goes in the second race but is a complete outsider, however in the fifth race two half-siblings Mahlers Cove (8/1) and Princess Mahler (16/1) face off.

They are all named after the Austro-German composer Gustav Mahler, who isn’t really renowned for the more banging tunes we would be familiar with from TV adverts.

Without resorting to Wikipedia, what I recall him for is that he was married to a woman who would go on to marry two more cultural Teutonic icons and that he wouldn’t name his ninth symphony his “ninth symphony” because so many composers died before writing their 10th (hard luck Gustav, so did you.) Princess Mahler’s sole win came at Limerick over the same two miles as tomorrow, but that was back in 2018 so a 10th out of 11 might be the best her connections can hope for. Mahlers Cove is instead advised at 8/1 on his handicap hurdle debut.

Saints alive

FOLLOWING last week’s first legs, the Carabao Cup final looks likely to be a clash of the Uniteds.

Man United bring a 3-0 lead back to Old Trafford tomorrow evening when they host Notts Forest, while Newcastle have only a single-goal lead at St James when Southampton visit tonight.

Ten Hag’s men are 4/6 favourites to capture his first piece of silverware in England, with Eddie Howe’s Magpies 6/5.

If you fancy the Saints causing a shock against the non-leaky defence of the Toon, they are 8/1 to win tonight and 40/1 for the trophy.

The Bet

I DO think 40/1 is a big price on Southampton. Cup semi second legs aren’t exactly locked in at 1-0, even if you are at home in the second one.

That one might be worth a few small quid and we’ll also opt for Mahlers Cove to romp home tomorrow in Limerick at 8/1, albeit with no great confidence.

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