Chiefs, Niners Set Up Super Bowl Full Of Riveting Matchups
Sea Of Red
Miami must now prepare for a sea of red to descend upon the city as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers begin the two-week leadup to Super Bowl LIV. In fact, this year’s big game will be the first to include two teams featuring red as their primary color.
That’s just the first of many details and matchups that make the Feb. 2 Super Bowl a compelling contest. Let’s take a look at why this game is shaping up to be a special one, and who has the edge.
Kansas City Opens As Slight Favorite
The early action on Super Bowl LIV has gone the way of Kansas City, but we’re still looking at one of the most even matchups in NFL history, according to the odds.
After shutting down Derrick Henry and overwhelming the Titans, the Chiefs are currently 1.5-point favorites over the 49ers as betting begins. However, bookmakers expect the line to continue moving as we near the last game of the season, but with largely balanced action.
Two Very Different Offensive Juggernauts
For just the second time in NFL history, this year’s Super Bowl will feature one team that led its conference in rushing and another team that led its conference in passing.
In the NFC, the 49ers literally and figuratively outran their competition with a stable of running backs and other weapons who amassed 2,305 yards on the ground.
In the AFC, the Chiefs outperformed every team in the conference by racking up 4,498 yards with a passing attack that employs Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Tyreek Hill.
Mobile Quarterback Versus Dominant Defense
This San Francisco team has rarely struggled against an opposing offense, but almost every time it does, it’s because that offense is spearheaded by a mobile quarterback.
In the playoffs, the 49ers had no trouble dealing with Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins – a pair of pocket passers. In the regular season, however, San Francisco suffered two of its three defeats at the hands of Russell Wilson’s Seahawks and Lamar Jackson’s Ravens.
The 49ers also pulled out narrow victories over Seattle (in the second matchup) and Arizona, which was an all-around poor team that happened to have a mobile quarterback in Kyler Murray.
While Mahomes is much more likely to beat you with his arm than his legs, he can certainly move the chains with his athleticism. He showed off as much with a 27-yard touchdown run in which he broke multiple tackles against the Titans in the AFC Championship Game.
The fact that Mahomes has the ability to navigate through an initial pass rush and outrun defenders is the largest advantage in what should be a tightly-contested game.
The Red Zone Battle
Because the San Francisco running game is so difficult to stop, it has very little trouble converting red-zone trips into touchdowns.
Whether they hand the ball off to Raheem Mostert, who rushed for 220 yards and four TDs in the NFC Championship Game, or utilize the likes of George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, the 49ers have all the weapons necessary to consistently finish off drives.
While the Kansas City offense is certainly explosive, it isn’t quite as robust inside the 20-yard line. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on just 54 percent of their trips to the red zone in the regular season.
49ers’ Best Shot To Slow Mahomes
The best way to beat any quarterback, including Mahomes, is to contain and pressure him with the pass rush. The ability of the front four to get to the quarterback is perhaps the biggest strength of this San Francisco team.
Led by Arik Armstead’s 10 sacks, the 49ers have four defensive linemen who racked up at least 6.5 sacks in the regular season.
In the NFC Championship Game, Nick Bosa relentlessly harassed Rodgers throughout the contest. If Bosa can get that sort of pressure on Mahomes, the 49ers will come out victorious in Super Bowl LIV.