Super Bowl LIV is fast-approaching, and after 20 weeks of football, the matchup is finally set.
TGH brings you a preview of the big game, along with overviews of the Chiefs and the 49ers to get you set with all the knowledge you need to make your predictions. Stay tuned to The Game Haus for more articles, predictions and insight on Super Bowl LIV, and be sure to check out this article for all of the generalized Super Bowl information you need in one place.
San Francisco 49ers
The 2018 San Francisco 49ers were 4-12, third in the NFC West (above the Cardinals, who had the worst record in the NFL) and had the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. With that second pick, they chose edge rusher Joey Bosa. Now, just one year removed from the second-worst record in the entire league, the Niners are playing in the Super Bowl.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan is only the third coach in NFL history to start 8-0 after starting 0-8 in a previous season. Joey Bosa is a near lock for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and will get votes for Defensive Player of the Year. San Francisco had the second-best rushing attack, the second-best overall defense and the best pass-defense in the league. They also hold the third-best point differential in the NFL in 2019, at +169.
Their three losses came to the Ravens, the Seahawks and the Falcons. The Ravens loss was on a last-second field goal. They lost to the Seahawks in overtime in (arguably) the game of the season. The Falcons loss was also on the last (non-special teams) play, as Julio Jones just barely broke the plane of the goal line with two second remaining.
For all intents and purposes, San Francisco had their only three losses handed to them on the very last play of all of those games. They dominated opponents, and earned the first-overall seed in the NFC by beating the Seahawks by about 12 inches. The 49ers handled their business in the Divisional Round against the Vikings, then demolished the Green Bay Packers (for the second time on the season) in the NFC Championship Game.
The Niners are an old-school football team with a new-school feel in their play calling. Hard-nosed running is their offensive identity, but coach Shanahan designs these plays in such a way that they remain hard to predict. Their defense is incredibly stout, both up front and in the secondary.
Simply put, San Francisco can beat you in a number of different ways. Expect them to pull out every trick in their book on Super Bowl Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were essentially a coin flip away from the Super Bowl last year. After a brutal offsides penalty against the New England Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship Game erased a game-sealing interception, the Chiefs would go on to lose the coin flip and the game to Brady and Belichick in overtime.
This year, Andy Reid is back in the Super Bowl for the second time. One of the winningest coaches in NFL history will finally have another chance to hoist the Lombardi for the first time. Coming along with him is the 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes. Not to mention one of the league’s best tight ends and a bevy of the fastest human beings in the NFL, including Tyreek Hill.
Posting the same record as last year, 12-4, the Chiefs essentially backed in to the number two seed in the AFC after the Patriots collapsed against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. Furthering their luck was the sixth seed Tennessee Titans shocking the heavily-favored Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.
Their improbable, historic comeback in their Divisional Round matchup against the Houston Texans shows how dangerous this team is. They became first team in history to win the game by 20+ points after trailing by 20+ points. Translation: They can put up a lot of points in a hurry.
Kansas City also trailed by 10 against the Titans before taking over the game yet again and winning in convincing fashion. Not only is Patrick Mahomes maybe the best arm talent in the league, he also tacked on an incredible 27-yard rushing TD in this game. Couple that with a bruising receiving tight end in Travis Kelce and a veritable track team as a wide receiving core, and the Chiefs feel like they can contend with anyone.
Andy Reid is one of the most dynamic, unique offensive minds in the game. Much like Shanahan, he may have to pull out all the stops to get the edge in this game.
This Super Bowl can go so many different ways, it is genuinely hard to commit to an opinion here.
San Francisco may run the ball down the throat of the weak-ish Kansas City defense, then step on their necks by pressuring Mahomes. The Chiefs may find every single soft spot in the 49ers passing defense and gash them like they have not been gashed this season, maybe even to the tune of 40 or more points.
It could be a shootout, or it could be a defensive struggle and come down to a last-minute score. The possibilities are endless with just how good these two teams are at almost everything they do. Not to mention the fascinating coaching matchups between two of the brightest minds in the NFL.
When push comes to shove, however, my weak, loosely-held opinion is to expect the dynamic nature of the Mahomes-receiver combination to overcome a stout San Francisco pass defense. Hill, Hardman, Watkins and even Williams are just too fast by themselves, and the Niners will have to defend all of them. Even if they manage to bracket them correctly, the 2018 MVP can use his legs or find Kelce over the middle.
If it is close late, the 49ers will not be able to rely on Garoppolo to bail them out of tight spots, while Mahomes can seemingly do anything he wants at his will. Bet on the quarterback matchup here, because it is the biggest discrepancy between the rosters.
Prediction: Chiefs- 35, 49ers- 23
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Featured Image courtesy of Charlie Neibergall/AP Images
Check out Eli and Ben’s Podcast “Courtside Ramblings” on SoundCloud or iTunes — TGH Podcast Feed
“From Our Haus to Yours“