Super Bowl Preview & Predictions from Top Rated Handicapper 74% on the NFL Season.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida | Tickets
Vegas line: KC -1.5 (O/U 52.5)
Sportsbet Magazine Scorecast: KC, 65.9% (by 5.2 points)
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has the seventh most regular season wins by a coach in NFL history (207) but is still trying to win his first Super Bowl. His 2004 Philadelphia Eagles lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, and Reid hasn’t returned since. A win would erase any doubt about his Hall of Fame qualifications and secure his place as one of the best coaches in league history. But to do so, Reid will need to beat perhaps the one NFL coach, the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, who rivals him as an offensive schemer and play caller.
San Francisco 49ers
Why they can Win: The 49ers have been in just about every type of game imaginable this season, winning blowouts and nail-biters along the way. But they’ve never been on the wrong end of a blowout. Even when they aren’t at the top of their game, the 49ers find a way to be in it until the final seconds. With an explosive offense, suffocating defense and solid special teams, the Niners play complementary football as well as any team in the league and are unafraid of the big stage despite their relative youth. They are the best unit in the National Football League.
How they can Lose: There simply aren’t many weaknesses on this team, but there are a few matchups that have been exploited at times. Offenses that have the ability to attack the side of the field opposite cornerback Richard Sherman has been a challenge at times, and teams with mobile quarterbacks have given the defense fits, too. (Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had 53 rushing yards in each of his postseason games this year.).
The 49ers win if … they continue to do what they’ve done most of the year: control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That allows the pass-rush to create havoc for Mahomes, and the running game led by Raheem Mostert can dictate the tempo and set up explosive pass plays for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers have appeared in six Super Bowls and have won five.
Below are all of their appearances, including their latest, which also happens to mark their only loss in the big game.
|Season||Super Bowl opponent||Result||Regular-season record||Head coach|
|1981||Bengals||W, 26-21||13-3||Bill Walsh|
|1984||Dolphins||W, 38-16||15-1||Bill Walsh|
|1988||Bengals||W, 20-16||10-6||Bill Walsh|
|1989||Broncos||W, 55-10||14-2||George Seifert|
|1994||Chargers||W, 49-26||13-3||George Seifert|
|2012||Ravens||L, 34-31||11-4-1||Jim Harbaugh|
San Francisco has had many chances to increase its number of Super Bowl appearances. The 49ers have lost in the NFC championship game nine times.
Kansas City Chiefs
Why they can Win: The Chiefs have reason to believe they’ll win in every game they’re quarterbacked by Mahomes. They’re 27-8 with him as their starting quarterback. The eight losses were by a total of 36 points, and Mahomes as a starter has never lost a game by more than seven points. Patrick Mahomes is the best Quarterback in the National Football League.
How they can Lose: For a team with as many great offensive skill players as the Chiefs have, they struggle at times in the red zone. They scored a TD on just 54% of their trips inside the opponents’ 20 during the regular season. A failure to finish drives in the Super Bowl would most likely prove costly, especially against a defense as good as the 49ers.
The Chiefs win if … they rely on Mahomes to carry them. He hasn’t let the Chiefs down yet. If the Chiefs play to his many strengths, they’ll claim their first Lombardi trophy in 50 years.
How many times have the Chiefs been to the Super Bowl?
The Chiefs have appeared in two Super Bowls and have come away victorious just once.
|Season||Super Bowl opponent||Result||Regular-season record||Head coach|
|1966||Packers||L, 35-10||11-2-1||Hank Stram|
|1969||Vikings||W, 23-7||11-3||Hank Stram|
Kansas City has had other chances to increase its number of Super Bowl appearances. The Chiefs have lost in the AFC championship game twice, including last season’s defeat at the hands of New England.
Mahomes has been the Chiefs’ leading rusher in both 2019 playoff games. There will be plenty of time to celebrate and project Mahomes’ passing performance, but his ability to convert first downs and touchdowns via the run has made the Chiefs’ offense nearly unstoppable. He is the fourth quarterback in NFL history to rush for at least 50 yards in consecutive playoff games. This is something the 49ers have struggled to contain all season.
Does the Chiefs’ defense have one more big game in it?
At this point, it’s fair to assume Mahomes and this Chiefs offense are capable of spectacular things, even against the 49ers’ fearsome defense. But can Steve Spagnuolo’s group, which held NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry to 69 yards in the AFC Championship Game, find an answer to the 49ers’ multidimensional run game?
San Francisco tore apart Green Bay on the ground Sunday. If the Chiefs are to deliver Andy Reid his first Super Bowl title, they’ll have to find a way to keep the 49ers from controlling the game on the ground and force Garoppolo to try to beat them with his arm.
Is the 49ers’ defense good enough to stop — or at least limit — Mahomes?
San Francisco took away Dalvin Cook and the Vikings’ run game in the divisional round. It neutralized Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game in the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco’s defense is loaded up front with first-round picks playing at a high level. Nick Bosa might be one of the few edge rushers in the league who can run down Mahomes from behind when he scrambles.
But can the Niners’ front continue its smothering ways against the 2018 NFL MVP and the blistering speed of the Chiefs’ offense? It will be the toughest test to date.
X factor: Raheem Mostert
It might seem odd to classify the 49ers’ running back in this category after his outrageous performance in the NFC Championship Game. But the 49ers are in the Super Bowl for two reasons: their dominant defensive front and their NFC-best running game. Unless veteran tailback Tevin Coleman can return from what looked like a serious arm injury, Mostert will take the lead role in an area of the game that is critically important to the 49ers’ success.
The All Important Matchups
Strength meets strength in this matchup on both sides of the ball. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ prolific passing attack will try to crack a 49ers pass defense that ranked second in DVOA and yielded the fewest passing YPG (169.9) with the fifth-most sacks (48) this season.
The Chiefs porous run defense will have to try and stop a Niners rushing attack that’s produced at least 112 yards on the ground in 8 straight games. Raheem Mostert is averaging 5.96 YPC during that span and dominated the Packers for 220 yards and 4 TDs at a 7.6 YPC clip. The 49ers may be without Tevin Coleman (arm), leaving Matt Breida to share backfield work with Mostert.
When the Niners offense is forced to obvious passing situations, Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled. Trading for Emmanuel Sanders and getting George Kittle back from injury has sparked that pass offense, but Jimmy G simply hasn’t been asked to do much over the Niners’ last two wins. He’s still relatively inexperienced and unproven in the playoffs, while Mahomes has been unbelievable with 11 TDs, zero INT over four playoff games and he’s only taken two sacks this postseason.
When the Chiefs are unable to protect Mahomes to free up their wide receivers down the field, their offense can struggle. Mahomes could be held in check by a team that can rush four and keep him in the pocket and the 49ers have been one of the best teams in recent memory in terms of getting pressure with four linemen. San Francisco will look to prevent downfield shots with consistent pressure and could do just that against a KC line that ranked 28th in adjusted sack rate (8.6%) this season.
While his detractors may point to previous playoff defeats, Andy Reid has been masterful in terms of countering against defensive game plans. Both the Texans and Titans stifled Mahomes and company over the previous two rounds before the Chiefs offense erupted.
As good as the 49ers secondary may be, they don’t have a conventional answer for Tyreek Hill. San Francisco’s slot cornerback Jimmie Ward is a natural safety with decent speed (4.47 40-yard dash time). Yet does he have the quickness to contain the fastest player in the NFL? Ward will likely get help with a creative scheme, but the Chiefs have plenty of speedy weapons in Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Sammy Watkins.
BETTING TRENDS AND STATS
The Chiefs are now a league-best 10-4-1 ATS when listed as favorites. They’ve covered the spread by an average of 9.8 PPG during their current eight-game winning streak.
Kansas City’s defense has been the biggest difference from last year. The Chiefs rank sixth in red zone TD percentage (50.82%) and tenth in opponents third-down conversion rate (36.87%). And while KC is 29th in YPC allowed (4.9), the Chiefs are middle of the pack in rush attempts allowed per game (25.7) because of their potent offense.
San Francisco is great on third down (44.81% conversion rate) but struggles to convert red zone opportunities in TDs (53.7% is 21st in NFL).
The Niners are 5-0 ATS when listed as underdogs this year and 6-2 ATS on the road. The crowd in Miami could be slightly partial toward the Chiefs, since most bets may come in on the flashier team.
San Francisco is just 2-5 ATS when facing an opponent that is on equal rest. The Chiefs are 6-2 ATS on the road or at neutral sites. They’re 9-4-1 ATS following a win.
Underdogs have had quite a run in recent Super Bowls, covering the spread in 10 of the last 13 years. The Patriots (-3) were the last favorite to cover the spread against Atlanta in 2017 and of course that required a miraculous comeback to prevail in OT.
Prediction – As impressive as the 49ers were in the conference finals, Kansas City was even better. Green Bay entered as an underwhelming No. 2 seed in the NFC, while Tennessee had outplayed its No. 6 AFC status. The Chiefs swarmed to peerless Titans RB Derrick Henry and achieved the impossible, slowing him down. They can take a page from that playbook against the run-oriented San Francisco 49ers. Though the Niners did not need to throw, can an offense that attempted eight passes (against the Packers) be trusted? Meanwhile, the Chiefs can lay claim to the most dangerous offense in recent memory, really, a dozen TDs in two playoff games? For record the QB matchup is not a close call. This is K.C. coach Andy Reid’s time to complete his eventual case for Hall of Fame recognition.
Scorecast – The Data is in! Our computer simulated genius, 5 years in the making, testing, twisting and perfecting it is with great pride and confidence we introduce you to our Scorecast Super Bowl selections. Much like a newborn baby, she’s been spoon fed every piece of statistical data imaganable. Tried and tested algorithms combined with the most in depth weekly filters leaves nothing to chance. Human emotions eliminated prepare to test drive the best data driven analysis in sports. After 10,000 Score Simulations…
San Francisco 49ers – 27
Kansas City Chiefs – 32
Best Bet Money line– Kansas City Chiefs Money line -115
Best Bet At The Spread – Kansas City Chiefs -1
Best Bet Over/Under 54.5– Over
Best Prop Bet – Patrick Mahomes MVP +110
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