There will be plenty of time to talk about the offseason after February 2nd but right now, the entire football world is focused on one thing – the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, which will be broadcast live on Fox.
The NFL odds are dealing the Chiefs as favorites with a total as high as 54 ½ and could go higher. Let’s take a look at both teams and why a case can be made on each to become the reigning Super Bowl champs after the big game is history.
Kansas City Chiefs
If you don’t lead with Patrick Mahomes as the fulcrum to the Chiefs’ offensive success, then you’re just not paying attention. The 24-year-old gunslinger has been operating on another level throughout the season and his 23-of-35 passing for 294 yards and three touchdowns, as well as 53 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown, is a routine stat line for the MVP candidate.
However, Mahomes doesn’t do it all by himself and how the 49ers will bottle up Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins is the big question mark. We know that San Francisco is the best in the business at stopping the run. Therefore, any traction Chiefs’ tailback Damien Williams can garner will just be an added bonus.
The Chiefs won’t win this game on the ground and will be prepared to launch early and often at a Niners’ pass defense that has held its last two opponents to an average of 249 yards through the air with three touchdowns and three interceptions. However, Mahomes and the Legion of Zoom is a different breed of cat that can beat a team in many ways. If their offense clicks, as it most often does, then this could be a high scoring affair.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners’ boast a three-headed monster in the backfield that has suddenly awoken. Raheem Mostert may not have been first on the depth chart to start the season but he has certainly staked his claim to the top spot down the stretch. If we take a look at the ground-and-pound attack from San Francisco’s 37-20 win over the Packers, we see that the fifth year Purdue product steamrolled his way to 225 yards rushing and four trips into the end zone.
Fellow tailback Tevin Coleman dislocated his shoulder in the victory over Green Bay and his status is questionable. If Coleman is indeed ruled out for the Super Bowl then Matt Breida could play a much more important role.
Jimmy Garoppolo did little more than act as a delivery boy in handing the ball off in the win over the Packers as he passed only eight times, connecting on six for 77 yards. There is little doubt Garoppolo will be called upon to be more of a gamechanger than a game-manager this time around but the Chiefs’ defense has improved and KC’s defensive tackle Chris Jones will be a tall order to keep him from dirtying Jimmy G’s uniform on Super Sunday.
The Bottom Line
While no one expects the Chiefs to do much in terms of cracking the code that is the 49ers run-stopping unit, any productivity out of Damien Williams will help KC’s passing game and keep the pocket clean for Mahomes.
Mahomes will be targeting receivers all afternoon but protection is the key and his tackles, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, will be critical in staving off the onslaught from San Francisco’s relentless pass rush coming via Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, among others. Keep them at bay and the Chiefs win, hands down. However, if Mahomes continues to get hit, and sacked, then it’s likely that the 49ers will hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the game’s end.
The other key to this game is how well the Kansas City defense will keep the San Francisco offense in check. The Chiefs suffocated Tennessee’s Derrick Henry in their 35-24 AFC Championship victory. Henry had averaged a whopping 196 yards over his last three games leading up to the game against Kansas City. However, the Chiefs put the clamps on him and limited the Pro Bowler to a mere 69 yards. That speaks volumes about how far this defense has come.
When the dust settles, some of us here at PFN suspect we will see the Chiefs defeating the 49ers by the score of 31-24, which means a bet on Kansas City and the over will be included in our NFL picks!