The stage is set for the biggest football game of the season. The world will be focused on Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, as the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs for the Vince Lombardi trophy. Both teams dominated their divisions, The Chiefs won the AFC Championship and are at 14-4 on the season, the Niners took home the NFC Conference championship and are 15-3.
Let’s do a comparison of both teams starting with the Offenses.
QB: What can be said that hasn’t been with Patrick Mahomes? He’s been “cash money” since getting the starting job in 2018. 50 TD’s last season, this year he put up 26, despite missing a couple of games with a knee injury. After losing out in last year’s AFC Championship, he made the most of his experience and brought it to the next level, leading the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl since 1970. As for Jimmy Garoppalo, the Niners traded for him from New England four years ago for this exact reason. He had some tough moments being unable to finish the 2018 season due to injury, but with a health 2019, he finally broke out with career-high numbers in passing and TD’s. Head to head, Mahomes is the more agile QB, and with Garoppalo’s turnover ratio working against him, I have to give the advantage to KC.
Rushing: Looking at the ground game, and for the Chiefs, they don’t run as often. In fact, not one back has run more than 500 yards this season and they’re 23rd in rushing yards within the league. But when they do, they rely on veteran LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams, with fullback Anthony Sherman in short yardage plays. As for the Niners, they were 2nd overall in the league in rushing with 144 yards per game. They have three options to choose from with Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Brieda. The younger set of running backs give the Niners the clear edge.
Receiving: In the air, the Chiefs pass offense are devastating. They were ranked 4th in the league in passing yards with 293 per game. TE Travis Kelce leads the team in receiving, while WR Tyreek Hill leads the team in TD’s. Sammy Watkins is another option at WR for Mahomes to throw to. As for the Niners, they rely on TE George Kittle who leads the team in receiving yards, and tied with WR Deebo Samuel in TD’s. Veteran Emanuel Sanders was a big in-season pick-up from Denver for their receiving corps. However the Niners were 17th in the league in passing, leaving the Chiefs with the upper hand in this matchup.
O-Line: Taking a look at the Chiefs offensive line, they’re led by Austin Reiter at center, Andrew Wylie and Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif are at guard, and Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are the tackles. Together, this o-line has given up only 25 sacks on the season, and was responsible for Mahomes throwing for nearly 5,000 passing yards. As for the Niners, their o-line is led by Ben Garland at center, Laken Tomlinson and Mike Pearson at guard and 13 year veteran Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey are at tackle. They’re the main reason the Niners running game has been so effective. The team was also 5th in the league in total yards. Both lines have been very respected all season. Let’s call it even.
Now let’s look at the Defenses.
D-Line: The Chiefs big men are DE Frank Clark and DT Chris Jones. Both linemen have 17 sacks between them. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon and DT Derrick Nnadi round out the front four, with in-season pickup Terrell Suggs a nice complement to that line. The team was 8th in the league in passing yards given up. As for the Niners, they have the best front four in the league. They gave up only 15 points per game, 252 total yards, 41.5 rushing yards given up and are tied for 1st in takeaways with 5. Arik Armstead, Sheldon Day, Deforest Buckner and rookie Nick Bosa have all dominated the front lines this season in sacks with 48, tied for 4th in the league. Both lines are solid, but for the numbers, I have to give the edge to the Niners.
LB: The Chiefs are led in the middle by Anthony Hitchens who leads the team in total tackles with 88. Damien Wilson is on the left side with Darron Lee on the right. Dorian O’Daniel, Ben Niemann and Reggie Ragland all are substitutes. As for the Niners, they’re led by Fred Warner in the middle with Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair on both sides. Elijah Lee, Kwon Alexander and Mark Nzeochar are the substitutes. Both teams are solid on coverage within 5 yards.
Secondary: The Chiefs defensive backfield is led by Tyrann Mathieu, aka “The Honey Badger”. He leads the team in interceptions. He’ll line up in the strong safety position with Daniel Sorensen as the free safety. Charvaris Ward and Bashuad Breeland are the starting corners, with Morris Claiborne and Jordan Lucas used in 3rd and long plays. As for the Niners, they’re led by Richard Sherman, who plays in his third Super Bowl. He’ll play at cornerback, with Ahkello Witherspoon as the other back. Ja-qui-ski Tart-t and Jimmie Ward are the safeties. The Niners have the slight advantage over the Chiefs on pass coverage, being that they’ve given up only 33% in 3rd down situations compared to 37% percent.
Special Teams: Harrison Butker handles all the kicking duties for the Chiefs. He’s been perfect within 40 yards this season and is 3 for 6 from 50 yards. Dustin Colquitt is the punter. He has a 44.3 yards per punt average. Returns are led by either Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman. The Niners have veteran Robbie Gould as kicker. He was out for 3 games this year and he hasn’t been successful from 50 yards this season. Mitch Wishnowsky has a 44.9 yards per punt average. He’s hit inside the 10 yard line six times this season. Richie James Jr., DJ Reed and Dante Pettis handle the kick and punt returns. If the game goes down to the final minute, give that advantage to the Chiefs.
Coaching : It took him 12 years, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid is back in the Super Bowl. He’s had many difficulties getting back to the big game in Kansas City, and may have just saved his job if he didn’t win the AFC Championship two weeks ago. He’s currently has the most wins without winning the Super Bowl. As for the Niners, everyone’s talking about Kyle Shanahan. The son of two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Mike Shanahan has exceeded everyone’s expectations after a 4-12 record last season. This is a chance to redeem himself after blowing a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots when he was offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. A historic moment this Sunday, as offensive assistant Katie Sowers becomes the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl. She’ll be the offense assistant to Shanahan. Let’s call this even, as well.
Intangibles: I’ve never been to Kansas City, but hear they have a lavish night life. It’s known for its barbecue, jazz heritage and water fountains. It’s also the home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Outside of baseball in the summer and football in the fall, there’s not much else for sporting events. As for the San Francisco bay area, I spent seven years living there and between the cable cars, the hills and the Golden Gate Bridge, I miss the beauty of the region. It’s been a while since I’ve returned and I’m definitely due for a visit. Big Advantage for San Francisco.
Final analysis: Oddsshark had the opening spread at 1½ in favor of San Francisco. Since then, the point spread has gone down ½ a percentage point and the game may well be a ‘pick ‘em’ come game time. That has a lot to do with the high powered KC offense and the Niners top ranked defense going head to head. The Chiefs have scored 29 points per game while the Niners have given up only 15 points per game this season. Something’s gotta give. That’s where the Niners offense must capitalize when they get the ball, and that starts at the coin toss. That means, the Niners need to keep it on the ground and away from Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. I’ve always been a big believer in the saying, “defense wins championships”, and this Sunday may well be the case. It should be an outstanding Super Bowl.
Smooth’s Pick: San Francisco (27-24)
Now with all of our picks, past performance doesn’t mean future results, if you have a gambling problem, then please seek help by going to gamblers anonymous dot org.
And that’s going to do it for smooth’s NFL Football Picks. Join us on Monday for a complete wrap up of the game and how we did on our pick.
Before we go, we want to take time to remember the life and legacy of NBA great Kobe Bryant. Bryant was killed along with his 13 year old daughter, Gianna and 7 other passengers in a helicopter crash just outside of Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26th. Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, winning 5 NBA titles.
He was an 18 time All-Star with two NBA Finals MVP awards and was the 2008 Most Valuable Player. He was also businessman, a philanthropist, a humanitarian and an Academy Award winning producer. The sudden loss has sent shockwaves across the basketball community and around the world.
We send our sympathies to all the families affected in this tragic accident.