Super Bowl Liv : 49ers vs. Chiefs Live Stream, Odds and Prediction Guide
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Picking this year’s Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers is hard.
There’s a reason the spread has been under two points all week and continues to be so. The Chiefs are currently favored by just 1.5 points over at Caesars Sportsbook.
Calling the 49ers an underdog here doesn’t seem right. Kyle Shanahan’s team has received plenty of credit in their run to the big game. They’ve flexed their running game and defense en route to the championship game with two dominant playoff wins.
The Chiefs have looked the more vulnerable of the two. They’ve trailed in both the divisional round and Championship Weekend before Patrick Mahomes and the offense got rolling and buried both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans under their explosive offense.
Here’s a look at what each team is bringing to the table, why they might be the right pick and a final analysis and prediction.
When: Sunday, February 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports Go
Line, O/U: KC -1.5, 54, per Caesars Sportsbook.
How the 49ers Can Win
This is obvious, but it has to be said: Beating the Chiefs starts with slowing down Patrick Mahomes.
This is not an easy task. Not only is he a dynamic passer with a cannon of an arm and a flair for improvisation, but he also has one of the deepest arsenals of weapons in the league. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman are just some of the receivers that defenses constantly need to keep corralled.
If there’s a team that is prepared to slow down the former MVP, it’s the Niners.
Richard Sherman is great at shutting down his side of the field in zone defenses, but the real thing that sands out about the 49ers is their defensive line. They have the pass rush to force Mahomes into uncomfortable throws.
DeAngelo Hall of NFL.com believes the Niners pass rush is capable of making Mahomes look average and thus took them in his predictions.
Another reason the Niners make a strong case as a slight underdog is their ability to own the trenches on offense. Their offensive line is just as good as their defensive line, and they make life very difficult for teams who aren’t adept at stopping the run.
The Chiefs have been one of those teams over the course of the season. It’s a huge reason why ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is taking the Niners:
“In evaluating these two teams, though, there’s one significant weakness that stands out: the Chiefs’ run defense. Against most teams, the Chiefs are simply too devastating on offense for their 29th-ranked run defense to matter. The 49ers have feasted on those terrible run defenses in 2019, scoring 51 points on the 32nd-ranked Panthers, 31 points on the 30th-ranked Browns and 41 points on the 28th-ranked Bengals.”
Both Hall and Barnwell make good points. The blueprint for the Niners is to obviously hope that the Chiefs get off to a slow start as they have in the past, jump on them early and lean on the pass rush to make it very difficult to come back while bleeding the clock with their run game.
It’s a feasible formula because we’ve seen it time and time again.
How the Chiefs Can Win
Those backing the Chiefs tend to have one thing in common: A belief that Patrick Mahomes is enough to be the deciding factor between these two teams.
The Niners are the more complete team. Their defense is strong against the run (11th in yards allowed per game) and the pass (NFL-best 5.3 yards per attempt). They can rush the passer better than just about anyone with just four down linemen, giving their secondary free rein to run whatever schemes they want with seven.
However, the Chiefs offensive line has been one of the bright spots for the team through the postseason. Specifically, tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz have been elite as pass-protectors:
Besides the offensive line, the Chiefs just have so many weapons that they may be able to nickel and dime their way down the field and render the pass rush useless. With the 49ers playing mostly zone and dropping their coverage guys to the deep-thirds in Cover 3, the ability to just dump the ball off on short routes and hope that Watkins, Hill, Robinson and Hardman can break tackles and make plays is viable.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is among those who believe those weapons may be too much for the Niners, even with his former teammate Sherman in San Francisco secondary. While picking the Chiefs, Wilson said the following, per Brian Witt of NBC Sports:
“It’s hard to bet against Sherm — he always finds a way to do something really crazy out there. You saw him intercept that ball down the field at the end of the game [against Green Bay]. He has a good knack, especially in scramble modes like that. But I just think they have so many weapons for the Chiefs. They got [Travis] Kelce, they got Tyreek [Hill], they got Mahomes, they got the running backs, they got receivers — they’ve got everybody, so that’s going to be really interesting.”
The Chiefs defense isn’t being talked about much. The unit was 13th in yards allowed per play this season and 16th in takeaways per game. In short, they’ve been just above average for most of the season. However, they’ve done what they need to do—make sure teams can’t catch up to Mahomes.
That’ll be a tall task for them with San Fransisco’s running game, but it’s been the recipe for success to this point.
Prediction: Chiefs in a Shootout
There’s a logical case to be made for San Francisco. Those picking Shanahan’s side are banking on the fact that they are the more well-balanced team, and in a vacuum, that’s a smart pick.
Last year’s Super Bowl was a bit of an aberration in terms of scoring. The 13-3 slugfest was a rarity in the modern football landscape. This one should turn in to a track meet on the biggest stage of them all, and Mahomes and the Chiefs just appear to be more ready to take that next step as champions.