There have been many marquee running backs to play, and star, in the Super Bowl. However, the rushing yardage leader in the game is one-hit wonder, Timmy Smith. He had 204 yards as the Washington then-Redskins rolled over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
Others in the top five had significantly more noteworthy careers in the NFL, Marcus Allen of the Raiders, John Riggins of the then-Redskins, Franco Harris of the Steelers and Terrell Davis had a (descending) range of 191-157 yards on the ground.
So, will there be a triple-digit rusher when the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs meet Sunday night?
It doesn’t look that way, with the Las Vegas odds coming up with 52½ yards as the number attached to Kansas City rookie Isiah Pacheco, priced at -110 to go over. Miles Sanders of the Eagles comes in at 66½ yards.
Let’s check the latest Super Bowl picks, stats, injury reports, and Super Bowl odds. We’ve got plenty of Super Bowl lines for you to consider.
Here is a breakdown of the rushing offenses.
Philadelphia finished fifth in the NFL, with 147.6 rushing yards per game during the regular season.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts’ 760 yards figured prominently in that number. However, there were times in the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers when he seemed a bit reluctant to run the ball. He missed time during the season with an injured shoulder.
With the outcome decided quite early, there wasn’t a need to potentially have Hurts risk any further damage to his shoulder. He won’t have that luxury against the Chiefs.
KC ended eighth in the NFL in rushing defense (107.3 yards/game) during the season. so no easy task.
There were times when Kenneth Gainwell looked more explosive than Sanders. He not only has more yards (160-132) in the two games, he is averaging 6.2 yards per carry (compared to Sanders’ 4.7). Gainwell has the higher number (18½ yards) when it comes to longest running play among the Eagles, according to the NFL betting line.
It’s not ideal that five offensive linemen have appeared on the Eagles’ injury report this week.
Friday injury report #SuperBowlLVII pic.twitter.com/XO4TIxE1QJ
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) February 3, 2023
Kansas City Chiefs
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about rookie Isiah Pacheco is that there’s been little chatter about the availability of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was the go-to running back.
Edwards-Helaire hasn’t played (high ankle sprain) since a Nov. 20th win over the LA Chargers, though he was activated off injured reserve this past Monday. KC was 8-1 without him.
Pacheco, a seventh-round pick out of Rutgers, has been a revelation. He had 107 yards in that Chargers’ game, and 95 in the playoff opener against Jacksonville. He had career-highs with five catches and 59 receiving yards in the AFC title game against Cincinnati.
During the regular season, 35% of his rushing yards took place after contact. His after-contact percentage jumped to 49.6% in the postseason, so his physical brand of running is getting more effective as he gets deeper into the season.
Jerick McKinnon provides Kansas City with experience. This will be his ninth playoff game. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes might be limited when it comes to running the ball due to his own injured ankle. However, he’ll scramble when necessary.
The Eagles ranked 15th in rushing defense (119.3 yards/game) during the regular season. There will be opportunities in the running game Sunday evening.
What the Trends Suggest
These teams have different philosophies on offense. The Eagles would be happy to rely on their running game at the outset. KC will be more likely to look to Mahomes to lead the way, seeing if Philadelphia can find a way to slow down tight end Travis Kelce.
Kansas City has thrown the ball on 80-of-130 offensive plays so far in the postseason, while the Eagles had 88 rushing attempts on 137 plays. There’s no secret about how these teams go about things when they have the ball.
There won’t be a challenge to the single-game Super Bowl rushing record, so Timmy Smith is safe. It’s not just about the two quarterbacks.
The last running back with a 100-yard game in the Super Bowl was Damien Williams. He had 104 yards when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers after the 2019 season, so that’s both interesting and something to consider if you have bet online on the game.
What’s the Verdict?
Pacheco’s been a great story with the Chiefs. However, the Eagles have the advantage here with Sanders and Gainwell both able to get to the second level. Hurts is also a dangerous runner, especially near the end zone.
Edwards-Helaire is a wild card in this game, having not played since late November.
It’s been more than 20 years since a running back was the Super Bowl MVP (Denver’s Terrell Davis earned the honor in Super Bowl XXXI after the 1998 season). There’s nothing to suggest any of these running backs are about to end that drought here.
With just three 100-yard rushers in the Super Bowl since 2007, it’s likely that trend is continuing.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.