By Garrett Farrell
This Sunday, February 2, The Kansas City Chiefs(12-4) will take on The San Francisco 49ers (13-3) in Super Bowl LIV in order to determine this year’s champion of the National Football League. Betting opened with the Chiefs favored by one point (-1), and with an over-under of 54.5.
The Chiefs come into the match riding a strong finish, with a dominating offensive performance in the play-offs. The Chiefs have won their last 5 games by an average margin of 16.6 points. Patrick Mahomes has followed up one of the most impressive debuts in NFL history with an astounding run that has resulted in the first time the Chiefs have made the Super Bowl in 50 years.
Over the last two years, head coach Andy Reid has orchestrated one of the league’s most exceptional offenses in the past decade, not that it was hard; weapons like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce paired with the most mechanically talented passer in the league make for an offense that is nearly impossible to stop.
Conversely, the 49ers come into this game following one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NFL history; last year the Niners were 4-12 with questions about Quarterback Jimmy Garropolo’s durability, as he had only been able to play 10 games over the course of two seasons with the team.
With the additions of cornerback Richard Sherman and a premier pass-rusher in Nick Bosa, this season they finished with the league’s best overall defense, allowing only 16 points a game; Jimmy Garropolo played a full 16 games in the regular season and threw for 27 touchdowns and nearly 4000 passing yards. Additionally, Coach Kyle Shanahan transformed the 49ers’ offense into one of the most run-heavy teams in the league; Jimmy Garropolo has only thrown for 208 yards over the 49ers’ last two games, which both featured the 49ers winning in a dominating fashion.
The game is going to be determined by two major factors: Will the 49ers’ defense be able to handle Patrick Mahomes and the armada of exceptional receivers they have, and will the Chiefs be able to force Jimmy Garropolo into making mistakes.
My pick: The 49ers. This is a tough game to figure out; both teams have strong offenses, and the Chiefs defense is steadily improving. What separates the two teams is the 49ers’ defense; both the defensive line and secondary are performing exceptionally, and the team has shut down some of the most exceptional quarterbacks in the history of the NFL: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Ben Roethlisberger all failed when facing the Niners. Even Lamar Jackson, who is as dynamic a player as any in recent league history, was only able to score twice against their defense.
Furthermore, Andy Reid has a legacy of not being able to perform in the biggest games; from the AFC title game last year, to the 2000 to 2003 seasons, when he made the NFC title game four times while only winning once, he has shown time and again that regardless of his acumen during the regular season, he never does quite enough to win the big game.
Regardless of the outcome, the game should make for an incredibly exciting match between two exceptional teams.