In entertainment capital of world, Chiefs have no interest entertaining talks of being underdogs ahead of Super Bowl LVIII

Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna speaks to media at team press conference in Henderson, Nevada.
Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna contemplates what it means to “be an underdog” ahead of Sunday’s big game at Wednesday morning’s team news conference in Henderson, Nevada. (Jalen Taylor/MEDILL)

By Jalen Taylor
Medill Reports

HENDERSON, Nev. — Entering the 2023 NFL season, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs were the preseason favorites to win it all again at +600. Right behind them were the Philadelphia Eagles at +750 and the San Francisco 49ers at +900. As it currently stands, the 49ers have surpassed last year’s champs in the latest Super Bowl odds, being selected as nearly unanimous two-point favorites on most legal betting services across the nation.

But the labels applied by the oddsmakers and by the players themselves are often completely different.

“We’ve been underdogs all year, man,” Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna said. “We went through so many ups and downs (this season) … we don’t care what nobody in this world has to say. We got one more challenge ahead of us to be on top of the mountain, then they can call us whatever they want.”

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he doesn’t allow others to define him.

“I never feel like the underdog; I always feel like we have a chance to win the football game,” Mahomes said. “We were underdogs in the last Super Bowl. … All you can do is have that same mindset of just going out there, playing your best football and hoping you end up with a win.”

And more often than not, Mahomes does.

According to BETMGM, Mahomes has started 13 times in his career as a betting underdog. During that time, he has accumulated a record of 10-3. He is even better against the spread in those games: 11-1-1, with three of those wins coming in the playoffs.

In addition to those impressive numbers, Mahomes’ resume includes two regular season Most Valuable Player awards and two Super Bowl MVP trophies.

As for the 49ers, their quarterback, Brock Purdy, was the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, earning the moniker “Mr. Irrelevant.” Purdy entered his rookie season as the team’s third string backup quarterback. After a series of injuries sidelined Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy was bumped to the starting lineup — and he’s been there ever since. While this is Purdy’s first full season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he’s never lost a playoff game that he’s finished in his first two seasons.

“I don’t think either one of us is an underdog,” 49ers tight end George Kittle said. “I think it’s two very talented teams that are in a Super Bowl playing each other. They have some of the best players in the world, and I think we have some of the best players in the world. It’s going to be a dogfight out there, and I’m looking forward to it.”

“I don’t worry about underdogs and favorites,” 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams said. “I’ve been favorite and lost, I’ve been underdog and won. To me, (underdog status) is for money. There’s a financial gain (associated) with betting services and stuff like that.”

In sports, the betting line is used by oddsmakers to set parameters for wagering on either side in a sporting event. At its core, it’s not necessarily indicative of who oddsmakers think will win. More so, it’s used to incentivize betting on a particular side (the line can be moved up or down depending on various circumstances) to balance the money so the losers pay for the winners and the house profits by collecting the betting fees.

Although the Chiefs and 49ers aren’t interested in the “underdog” or “favorite” labels in Super Bowl LVIII’s pending matchup, they are interested in following their game plan and playing their best brand of football.

“It’s all going to come down to us and what we do between the white lines,” Williams said.

Jalen Taylor is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on X @jalenstaylor.