On Sunday in Miami, the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers will face off against the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
The 49ers haven’t been to the big stage since their 2013 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but after dismantling two NFC North contenders, the Niners will look to get a dynasty of their own going.
If you’re wondering about the last time the Kansas City Chiefs made it this far, you’ll have to travel back to the 1970 AFL vs. NFL Championship game (Super Bowl IV) where they beat the Vikings 23-7.
These two teams are evenly matched, which explains the small point spread, which has Kansas City favored by 1.5. If you’re like me, you might be having a hard time deciding if you should take the favored Chiefs or the underdog Niners.
Let’s evaluate both teams and make our pick for the biggest game of the year.
A New Era
Everyone already knows the secret to San Francisco’s success has been running the ball, but nobody has been able to do anything about it. When the Niners faced one of the league’s best rushing defenses (Minnesota), they were able to put up 186 yards on the ground and control the clock for over 38 minutes.
The following week against the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship Game, Raheem Mostert was able to put up 220 yards on his own.
With the success that San Francisco has had on offense without throwing the ball, the question remains whether Jimmy Garoppolo can move the ball efficiently down the field if the 49ers aren’t able to get the running game going.
That’s obviously not the only question experts are asking about San Francisco. The one everyone is waiting to get answered is, Can the San Francisco defense stop Patrick Mahomes?
Containing the Chiefs’ star quarterback is one of the toughest tasks you could ask of a defense. The good news is San Francisco has a stellar front seven that can be relied upon. If Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner can cause chaos in the backfield, maybe Mahomes won’t be able to pass downfield.
Overall against the spread, the Niners have performed well, with an 11-6-1 record through the season and a 6-2 record in their last eight games. Although they haven’t covered well when playing the Chiefs, this is a completely different San Francisco squad.
Taking That Next Step
Andy Reid has been waiting for this moment to come for a long time; now that he has perhaps the best young quarterback we’ve ever seen, this is a perfect opportunity for him to capitalize and earn his first title as a head coach.
What the Chiefs have done well all season is move the ball downfield, usually due to Mahomes creating opportunities with his legs. With receivers like Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, along with superstar tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs have the most dangerous offense in the NFL.
What worries me about the Chiefs is their defense. Against both Houston and Tennessee in the playoffs, Kansas City got down early and had to rally back to win. There is, however, a big difference between the two teams Kansas City faced, as they didn’t have the Niners’ defense.
Kansas City could potentially be adding LeSean McCoy and Morris Claiborne back into the lineup, which bodes well for the team.
As great as San Francisco has been against the spread recently, Kansas City has been perfect. The Chiefs boast an 8-0 record ATS in their last eight games heading into Sunday and have a great straight-up record against the NFC West (14-4).
Pick and Prediction
I’ve mentioned multiple times the efficiency of the Chiefs offense. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and one of the most dangerous offenses.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs falter on defense, and in their last two playoff games, they were down early. Although I think Mahomes has the capability to lead this team to multiple championships, I don’t think they capture it this year.
San Francisco is the most complete team in football, with a defense-first mindset and a strong running game. This isn’t the last time we’ll see San Francisco win a Super Bowl. Give me the underdog team from the NFC, San Francisco +1.5.