A bettor’s guide to Canadian connections in Super Bowl LVII

Photo courtesy: Tyler Kaufman/AP Images for the NFL

The greatest spectacle in all of sport will kick off at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 12 in Arizona, when the Kansas City Chiefs take to the field against the Philadelphia Eagles for Super Bowl LVII.

When it comes to Super Bowl odds, the Eagles currently stand as 1.5-point favourites. But with neither team boasting large fan bases north of the border, many Canadians are still trying to determine their rooting interest — and for those in Ontario, where to put their money. Luckily for them, 3DownNation is here to provide you with our annual deep dive into the Canadian connections in this year’s NFL title game.

Pro football is a deeply interconnected world and most players on the field on Sunday will have close friends or former teammates who have carved out careers in the Great White North. While all those connections would be too cumbersome to list in their entirety, the most prominent also happens to be the game’s biggest storyline.

By now, everybody knows that Eagles’ centre Jason Kelce and Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce are set to become the first brothers to play against each other in a Super Bowl — an event many are dubbing the Kelce Bowl. Whoever wins the game will have family bragging rights, but they will also tie their college roommate Zach Collaros in the race for the most championship rings in a career.

Before he quarterbacked the Bombers to back-to-back Grey Cup titles, Collaros was the star signal caller at the University of Cincinnati — taking snaps from Jason and throwing passes to Travis. The two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player lived with the brothers and became close friends with both, even being with each of them on the day they were drafted.

Both are now All-Pros and widely considered to be the best players at their respective positions in the world, though it will be Travis who will have the most eyes on him in Arizona. The superstar tight end is expected to be busy with the highest receiving over/under of any player in the game on DraftKings: 6.5 receptions and 77.5 yards, with -135 odds as an anytime touchdown scorer. The former high school quarterback might also be the best option to channel his inner Collaros and help you cash in on the +2200 prop bet that a non-QB throws a touchdown in the big game.

Jason, meanwhile, serves as the cerebral cortex of the best offensive line in football. As a result, the Eagles’ dangerous option-based attack could pose real challenges for Kansas City, with the over/under for team rushing yards set at 144.5. Philadelphia is also -120 to allow less than 2.5 sacks thanks to their elite big men, a group that will include former Calgary Stampeder Julian Good-Jones next year.

The Iowa State alum is the only former CFL player under contract with either team. However, he will not officially be considered a member of the Eagles until the 2023 league year begins and won’t be eligible to receive a Super Bowl ring.

Two other players with ties to CFL teams will get hardware if Philadelphia wins, though neither has played in Canada yet. Punter Arryn Sipposs of Australia has his rights owned by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 Global Draft, while his countryman Matt Leo, a practice roster defensive lineman, was selected two picks later by the Edmonton Elks.

The much stronger Canadian connection for the Eagles lies on the sidelines, where former CFL quarterback and coach Marcus Brady has been serving as an offensive consultant since November. A three-time Grey Cup champion while working under the legendary Marc Trestman in Montreal and Toronto, Brady was a rising star with the Indianapolis Colts when he replaced Nick Sirianni as offensive coordinator for that team. He became an unfortunate casualty of the Colts’ failure to find a quarterback this year.

Now Philadelphia’s head coach, Sirianni quickly brought Brady over to help him with the playoff push. His primary job has come in assisting defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon with opposition scouting, as the Philly offence fires on all cylinders with OC Shane Steichen.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts is playing at an elite level in the postseason, with +125 odds to be named Super Bowl MVP. His over/under is set at 240.5 passing yards and 50.5 rushing yards, with top targets A.J. Brown (O/U 71.5), DeVonta Smith (O/U 61.5) and Dallas Goedert (O/U 47.5) all boasting bigger expected yardage lines than any Chiefs’ player not named Kelce.

Those discovering those talents for the Eagles have some CFL connections too. Assistant director of college scouting Ryan Myers worked as a West Coast NFL scouting consultant for the Toronto Argonauts in 2011 and 2012. He was promoted this year in Philly after previously manning the West Coast area throughout the draft process, helping land players like undrafted punt returner Britain Covey — who has +2800 odds as an anytime touchdown scorer.

Still pounding the pavement as the Midwest Area scout is former Memphis Mad Dogs defensive tackle Jim Ward, who was allegedly once named the CFL’s Strongest Man — though I can find no official record confirming this.

For the Chiefs, no part of their roster goes without some CFL influence thanks to director of player personnel/pro scouting Tim Terry. A brief stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999 culminated with him starting at defensive end for that organization’s last Grey Cup victory and he has since added to his trophy case with two Super Bowl rings — one with the Packers and one with the Chiefs.

Terry is the man in charge of helping general manager Brett Veach evaluate potential additions from other professional clubs, with basically the Chiefs’ entire receiving corps of JuJu Smith-Schuster (O/U 36.5 yards), Marquez Valdez-Scantling (O/U 35.5 yards), and Kadarius Toney (O/U 26.5 yards) coming over on his watch. He’ll also be leading the advance scouting of their Super Bowl opponent, helping lay the groundwork for head coach Andy Reid’s game plan.

On the sidelines, assistant special teams coach Andy Hill had a brief stint with the Stampeders in 1985. The odds are set at +1400 for any player to return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown in this game, which Hill will help influence one way or another.

While there are no Canadian citizens with a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year, the game will more than likely come down to the talent of a former Edmonton resident. Indeed, Kansas City Chiefs’ superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes briefly lived in the Alberta capital while his father pitched for the minor league Edmonton Trappers in 2004. As such, our country can claim a small fraction of the soon-to-be two-time NFL MVP’s future success.

Still battling a high-ankle sprain, this game will ride on how effective Mahomes will be in the face of Philadelphia’s ferocious pass rush led by Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick and Fletcher Cox. Even injured, the generational pivot proved in the AFC Championship that it is usually foolhardy to bet against him and Vegas seems to agree. While the Eagles are favoured, Mahomes’ over/under for passing yards is set at 294.5 and his +120 odds to be named MVP are the highest of any player.

Whether it is the Chiefs or Eagles who get showered in confetti at the end of the night, fans on both sides of the border can expect a highly entertaining matchup with the over/under for total points set at 51. With storylines galore, a few choice Canadian connections, and plenty of enticing lines, there is something for every fan to enjoy. Please do so responsibly.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.