Super Bowl LIV props: Which head coach calls timeout first? (This is an easy one.)

Monday, 27 January 2020 16:28 EST

Now this is a proposition bet that NFLbets can really sink our teeth (and bankroll) into: “Team to Call First Timeout.” Both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are getting -115 payouts in this prop at My Bookie as of Monday, January 27, with little reason to suspect much movement on either side; after all, this prop isn’t exactly going to attract the actions of, likesay, point spread betting or even the (silly-ass) coin flip prop.

At first, NFLbets figured this one would be pretty cut-and-dried, given Andy Reid’s rather checkered history with clock management – but this prop bet is actually quite a bit more difficult than it seems.

For example, the easiest way to burning that first timeous is on a losing coach’s challenge call. About two-thirds of the way through the 2019 season, the NFL’s official website released this handy chart detailing career tendencies on challenges for all 32 then-employed NFL head coaches (alas, poor Freddie).

On Reid, 16 seasons’ worth of data shows that the Kansas City head coach has amassed a 48% success rate on fewer than 0.4 challenges per game. Kyle Shanahan’s sample size is of course well smaller; in three seasons heading up the Niners, Shanahan has won 10 of 18 challenges, but began his career in 2018 winning five of his first six; his frequency rate is thus 0.36 red flags thrown per game.

So purely mathematically, Shanahan has a 16% of blowing a challenge in the Super Bowl while Reid’s at about 20.3% likely. However, the Super Bowl factor may have to be factored in: Despite what one may guess, head coaches get a lot more liberal chucking the challenge flag: In the past 20 Super Bowls, some 25 challenges have been made and all flag-throwing coaches have enjoyed a nice 56% success rate.

Therefore, the odds suggest that a timeout will not be lost to a losing coaches’ challenge in the first half at all, but the 4-plus percentage point difference becomes more weighted (so to speak) against Redi and the Chiefs.

So how about the perception of Reid as mishandling timeouts? In 2018, a study undertaken by the Green Bay Packers (!) blog called Acme Packing Co. found that Chiefs were the single most effective team in plays directly following a TO called by Reid – but with Patrick Mahomes leading a point-a-minute offense, Reid called just 17 timeouts in the 2018 season, ranking the Chiefs 16th in the stat. And Reid Reided in last year’s AFC Championship game, never using one of his three TOs in the OT against the New England Patriots.

Shanahan’s 49ers, by contrast, called 20 – this may not seem significant in comparison, but only seven teams in ’18 called more TOs than Shanahan and San Francisco. Note, too, that all only one TO was called in the three games total started by Jimmy Garoppolo that season.

The point: Compared to Ried, Shanahan basically throws timeouts around. Combined with the fact that Mahomes tends to go off-book into improvisation after the first quarter and the 49ers’ interests lie in keeping the game slow and deliberate, this bet really is one of the biggest no-brainers on the Super Bowl LIV proposition bet table: Take the San Francisco 49ers in the First Team to Call a Timeout prop bet.

–written by Os Davis

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