The Longshot: Can Mahomes clip Eagles’ wings in Super Bowl?

The Longshot: Can Mahomes clip Eagles’ wings in Super Bowl?

BROTHERLY LOVE: Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles will face off against his brother Travis in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

STRAIGHT after the Championship games in the NFL (the semi-finals in our lingo) last week the bookies were favouring the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl that takes place next Sunday.

Then things swung back briefly towards the Kansas City Chiefs. And then on foot of bettors taking stock of injury news emerging from Missouri, the odds moved back to favour the Pennsylvania franchise.

They are now considered 1.5 point favourites Stateside, meaning with that headstart for the Chiefs at kick-off, both sides are even money (Yanks like 50/50 bets). What that means for us is Phiily are 4/5 and Kansas 11/10.

Over the past 15 Super Bowls, the team that drew early action on the spread has covered it in 11 of those games. Although it is rarely as close to call as this one.

Those main injury worries for the Chiefs are quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has struggled with a high ankle sprain through the past game and a half, and one of the favoured targets of his laser-like throws, tight-end Travis Kelce, who has had back issues.

Mahomes and Kelce lasted the whole AFC game that the Chiefs won 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals nine days ago, but they lost several wide receivers during that game and Mahomes finished it hopping on one leg, despite making the game-winning run before they slotted the winning field goal.

While it is necessary to qualify the Eagles’ 31-7 win in the NFC game because the San Francisco 49ers were effectively left without a quarterback for most of the game, they won’t mind in the least if they win the big one in the same fashion again against a depleted opposition.

The Chiefs can still find a way to win of course. Two weeks of RICE should have Mahomes sturdier on his cleats and his side are famed for the innovation and ingenuity engendered by coach Andy Reid, who is as likely to go for a touchdown on 4 and 1 as he is to ask someone to trundle over for a first down.

That will be needed in abundance against one of the best pass-rushes in NFL recent history. The pass rush is when the defence charge across the line of scrimmage towards the in an effort to stop or sack (or even injure, in the case of the Eagles) him.

Kansas City leads the all-time series of games between these two, 5-4, winning the past three contests since 2013.

The Eagles are in the hunt for only their second ever Super Bowl after their surprise decider win over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2018.

The Chiefs are seeking their third title to go along with wins 50 years apart in 1970 and 2020. They also played in the very first one in 1966, which they lost and the 2021 decider, which saw Brady show Mahomes he is still a bit off taking the mantle of the best QB ever. But Mahomes’ numbers and demeanour do suggest he can surpass the recently re-retired Brady, as he is still only 27.

The quarterback is of course the most important position on the field and nine of the last 13 players to be named Super Bowl MVP (Most Valuable Player) have been quarterbacks, and 31 of the 56 overall.

The Eagles’ signal caller Jalen Hurts is 5/4 favourite to scoop it, just ahead of Mahomes on 11/8.

Last season Cooper Kupp from the LA Rams became just the seventh wide receiver to be bestowed with the accolade.

Eagles’ wide man Devonta Smith is 25/1 to take the man of the match.

He is one of the most exciting prospects in American football and was named best college player in 2020. However, the man catching the ball is usually given less credit than the one throwing it.

Travis Kelce is 12/1 to make history as no tight end has ever been named Super Bowl MVP. The NFL’s best player in that position hauled in his 15th playoff receiving touchdown in the AFC Championship game, moving into a tie for second of all time with Brady’s target man in his later years Rob Gronkowski, and behind only the great Jerry Rice on 22.

Kelce will actually be coming up against his brother Jason in the final, the first time two siblings will face each other in the biggest game in the NFL.

They won’t actually take the field at the same time as they both play in the offence, Jason is a centre. Both have won one ring each with their teams already so their parents will definitely have to be neutral.

The brothers actually host the popular New Heights podcast throughout the season, in which they discuss their life at both the Chiefs and Eagles (hard to imagine a similar venture in the GAA). It will be interesting to see if the podcast is put on hold this week.

Technique beats power in world of skimming or skipping

GOOD arms are crucial in the NFL and one astute reader assailed me recently because I hadn’t revisited a certain throwing subject, having only skimmed its surface last year.

A glance back into the mists of last October revealed I had indeed mentioned stone-skipping in a piece then, claiming that for reasons of space I couldn’t elaborate on the activity, but would return to it when I got a chance. Well those ripples have finally reached my bare ankles, so here we go.

First, is it “skipping” or “skimming”? Well, it’s both. Skipping counts hops; skimming measures distance.

I may as well admit here and now that I was never good at either. As a kid, while my older brother’s smooth pebbles would be careering off towards the horizon, mine would only make a satisfying ‘plop’.

But both activities are taken quite seriously by those who have the knack. On this side of the Atlantic, the more easily measured skimming is favoured. The World Stone Skimming Championships take place every autumn at an abandoned slate quarry on the Hebrides off Scotland. Dougie Isaacs has won eight world titles and holds the World Record for the longest skim at the tantalising distance of 399.6 feet.

Those with lofty ambitions across the ocean prefer to count the hops. Kurt Steiner is the world’s greatest stone skipper. Over the past 22 years, he has won 17 tournaments. In 2013 he skipped a stone 88 times! And he is only 26 feet behind Isaacs and says he wants to hold both records.

We’ll keep you updated when we hear more. For now, some advice to get you started from three times British champ Alex Lewis: Find a flat stone of about three inches in diameter. Aim to throw it at 20 degrees to the horizontal. When you throw, try to land your stone flat on the water.. Have first bounce around 10m in front of you. Technique beats power.

Wasted while on the Tour

BY FAR the ugliest named tournament in the world gets underway on Thursday, the Waste Management Open on the USPGA Tour in Arizona.

Not alone is the name unappealing, the crowd is also famously the most boisterous, with silence during backswings not exactly guaranteed.

It will probably even be more so this weekend with Super Bowl just down the road on the final day of the tournament.

Scottie Sheffler edged Patrick Cantlay in a playoff last year, his first win on tour. He would bag two more before adding the Masters in April.

In nine of the last 10 years, the winner of this event has opened between 10-1 to 50-1 Sheffler is 8/1, while John Rahm is 11/2 favourite. Rory McIlroy is just behind on 15/2.

Lowry and Bo break up

OFFALY swinger Shane Lowry parted ways with caddie Brian “Bo” Martin.

Lowry, currently 22nd in the world and likely to make the Ryder Cup this year, has claimed they had lost their “spark” after a four-and-a-half-year run that included that wonderful Open win in Portrush in 2019.

The break-up was said to be amicable however there were a few signs of on-course tension between the two, with Lowry occasionally letting off steam when he believed he was advised to use the wrong club.

Lowry is 40/1 to add a second major at Augusta this April and 13/2 to win any of the four majors.

If you are expecting a negative impact, he is 9/5 to make the cuts in none of them.

The Bet

WE’VE already advised the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. Devonta Smith at 25/1 to be MVP might not be too mad considering the Eagles can make hay if injuries continue to beset the Chiefs.

At the the golf, down the road in Scottsdale, I’ll go for someone in the 10/1 to 50/1 range. Xander Schauffele was a shot behind the leaders last year and can thrive in the pressure-cooker atmosphere at 16/1.

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