Posted on January 27, 2020, by Travis Pulver
After their near comeback against the New England Patriots last year in the AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs were expected to make it to Super Bowl LIV this season.
The rise of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens forced them to take a backseat for much of the regular season. But while the Ravens couldn’t get past the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs could.
As for the San Francisco 49ers, after going 4-12 last season, there was nowhere for them to go but up this season. So, when they won the division with a 13-3 record behind a strong defense and a powerful running game, many were surprised—but fans wanted more.
The 49ers are going to get a chance to give their fans more next Sunday in Miami. But the Chiefs are not going to make it easy on them.
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San Francisco 49ers
It would not be shocking to see the 49ers take a similar approach to facing the Chiefs as the Tennessee Titans attempted to do.
They will try to keep Mahomes off the field as much as they can with their running game. While Raheem Mostert is no Derrick Henry, the 49ers rushing attack was the second-best in the NFL during the regular season. However, they have dwarfed their regular season numbers during the playoffs with 235 yards a game on the ground.
Mostert paved the way against the Green Bay Packers with 220 yards on the ground.
“The lanes that we saw and the way he was running, we just wanted to keep feeding him,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game (via ESPN). “I know he was feeling it. That wasn’t too hard to see.”
However, as important as establishing the run will be, the 49ers defense is going to be severely tested by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. While they had the No. 1 passing defense in the league (169.2 yards/game allowed) during the regular season, no one has ever been able to stop Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs
Many football fans were concerned for the Chiefs heading into the AFC title game. While the Chiefs defense had looked good down the stretch, they still had one of the lower-ranked run defenses in the league. So, how could they stop the machine that was Derrick Henry?
Well—they did, holding him to just 69 yards on the day. While the defense did play a solid role in the process, the offense deserves a lot of credit for forcing the Titans to abandon the run. If they are going to beat the 49ers, they are going to have to do the same thing.
Except this time, Mahomes will be facing arguably the best overall defense in the league. But their front seven is not going to be as forgiving against the run—nor will they let Mahomes get loose in the run game as often as the Titans did.
For the Chiefs to win, they are going to need Mahomes to carve up one of the best secondary in football while avoiding a pass rush that is just as dangerous.
Our Super Bowl LIV Prediction, Betting Tips
Many are expecting Mahomes to dominate the 49ers defense much like he dominates every defense he faces. But that is not going to be as easy as some people think. While the Chiefs defense was able to slow down Henry, stopping the 49ers run, the game will not be as easy.
However, at the same time, while the 49ers defense is formidable, Mahomes is capable of dissecting it and has the weapons he needs at his disposal.
So—who’s going to win Super Bowl LIV?
It could easily go either way, but I’mI’m taking the 49ers to win(+108) over the Chiefs (-122), straight up and against the spread (+1.5, odds via DraftKings). As for the over/under (54), it could go over. But I’m going to bank on the run game eating up too much clock for the score to get too high. Take the under.