Super Bowl underdog? Chiefs, Eagles would embrace him

The betting line can’t seem to make up its mind, swinging one way, flipping the other and, for now, teetering on the Philadelphia side of the Super Bowl fence.

For all intents and purposes, next Sunday’s big game between the Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs will be a pick, as it should be for a matchup between a pair of No. 1 seeds with outstanding seasons behind them.

Just know this. Whichever team ends up being the underdog according to the odds, the smart money and the prognosticators, even if it’s an underdog in name only, you can be sure they’ll use it as an added dose of Super Bowl motivation.

Because these two teams love it. They like to have an excuse to get angry and inflamed, and there’s no surer way to ensure that in sports than to tell a bunch of intense competitors that they’re not expected to win.

[Super Bowl 2023 odds: 10 betting trends to know for Chiefs-Eagles]

The line is now at -1.5 for the Eagles and could go any number of ways between now and game time depending on injuries and updates and maybe even if the mattress guy bets a few tens of millions.

Is Super Bowl LVII a matchup of the two best teams in the NFL?

Is Super Bowl LVII a matchup of the two best teams in the NFL?

The teams with the two best records in the NFL made it to the Super Bowl.

Consider what it means to be an underdog for the Chiefs and Eagles. Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. Teams like this and competitors like these don’t react with “oh yeah, you’re probably right” when they’re told, however indirectly, that the general public believes there’s someone else who’s better.

Good luck saying that Patrick Mahomes, he with a 64-16 career record, blithely recruited as a QB out of high school, repeatedly told to stick to the safety of the play or throw the baseball, but who backed up.

Mahomes wasn’t too happy about being called the underdog against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he liked what he got out of it as he hobbled around Burrowhead (yeah, right) and shuffled painfully until a late fight that forced a game-clinching penalty.

“The guys were probably the most pumped I’ve ever seen them come into a football game,” Mahomes told reporters. “Nobody picked us to win, if so, that’s about 5 percent of the people.” We think we’ve built enough respect to have a chance to go out and win every game. Any time you feel like the underdog … prepares our guys for work.”

[Super Bowl LVII MVP odds: Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts open as favorites]

Good luck telling Jalen Hurts you don’t rate his chances. Hurts worked his way through adversity at Alabama, famous for being traded during the national championship game, then being in doubt in his early stint with the Eagles, even after creating plenty of positive moments last season. How do you think he will react if you dare him?

“That guy leads,” Eagles coach Nick Siriani said of Hurts. “He brings that calmness to the whole team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come.”

Did Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts have a better performance in Super Bowl LVII?

Did Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts have a better performance in Super Bowl LVII?

Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor, LeSean McCoy and David Hellman debate.

The underdog mentality is one of the mysteries of sports. Because it’s not about effort. There’s no shortage of it, it’s the Super Bowl for goodness sake and all that comes with it. Everyone will give their absolute best, which by the way is 100 percent, not 110, despite what coaches everywhere want you to believe.

So why then can teams create a little extra performance when given the underdog label? Maybe it has something to do with tension, or the lack of it. Instead of defending status, you’re on the attack to try and make that lofty perch your own. Perhaps. A mystery, as I said.

Well, the bulletin board is full. It’s always packed in Philly. It’s always stormy in Philadelphia, the city of Rocky and Vince Papale, and where hundreds of German Shepherd masks are being snapped up as we speak. Brotherly Love HQ is an outsider because it doesn’t like to position itself as anything else.

[NFL odds: A historical look at Super Bowl Over/ Unders]

The Eagles played and acted like underdogs five years ago, during the Philly Special, even when they were the No. 1 seed with a stacked roster and bounced back from a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game.

The Chiefs have been an underdog franchise for most of their existence, much less in the modern era of dominance since Mahomes was drafted and everything changed.

History doesn’t know what to make of the whole outsider deal. Since the Super Bowl began, the favorite has won it all 36 of 56 times. Lately, however, favoritism counts for little. Of the last 15 Super Bowls, eight have been won by the underdog.

Perhaps proving that every dog ​​has its day. And with each passing day as this final clash approaches, the two teams look unwavering in maintaining a “dog” mentality.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and contributor to the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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