Well, things can’t possibly go any worse on my picks for Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2 when the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers meet the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs than the picks did last weekend. It’s the first-ever postseason matchup between the franchises.
While I thought, both would win their respective conference title games at home, I also expected both games would be very close and took the underdog Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers both at +7.5, respectively. Oops!
The Chiefs have set an NFL record for longest stretch in between Super Bowl appearances. They played in the last Super Bowl before the AFL/NFL merger and beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 on Jan. 11, 1970, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans for the only title in franchise history. The Lions, Browns and Jets have the three longest active Super Bowl droughts currently. Detroit and Cleveland have never made it, and the Jets last did in the famous Super Bowl III upset of the NFL’s Baltimore Colts. That game also happened to be in Miami, but the old Orange Bowl.
San Francisco looks to win a sixth Super Bowl title, which would tie the Patriots and Steelers for the most. The Niners were last in this game following the 2012 season and lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans in the Harbaugh Bowl.
The 49ers are the road team so will call the coin toss; they will wear white jerseys and gold pants. A team wearing white has won 13 of the past 15 Super Bowls. Kansas City will wear home reds.
Not out of the question that these teams meet in Super Bowl LV on the other coast of Florida in Tampa in February 2021 as the Chiefs, 49ers and Baltimore Ravens all opened as +700 title favorites for next season. The AFC could get a bit easier for Kansas City if Tom Brady leaves the Patriots for the NFC (although I think Brady stays put), while the NFC could get a bit easier for the Niners if Drew Brees retires.
Don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but both these franchises seem set up for sustained success with young franchise quarterbacks and excellent coaching staffs. The head coaches are one story line as Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan might be the two best offensive minds in the NFL. Reid has a Hall of Fame resume that’s missing only a Super Bowl title (lost his lone appearance in XXXIX with the Eagles vs. the Patriots). Shanahan should have won a ring three years ago as the offensive coordinator of the Falcons, who managed to blow a 28-3 late third-quarter lead to the Patriots and lose in overtime because Shanahan wouldn’t run the dang ball and milk the clock. He took over as Niners coach the next day. Two rising star coordinators are in this game as well in Kansas City OC Eric Bieniemy and San Francisco DC Robert Salah. Both got multiple interviews for head coaching gigs but neither landed one. I promise Reid and Shanahan are secretly happy about that.
I suppose if one wants to simplify this matchup, it’s the high-powered passing offense of the Chiefs behind the incomparable Patrick Mahomes (this won’t be his last Super Bowl by a long shot) against a run-heavy offense of the Niners. Defensively, the edge belongs to San Francisco.
Kansas City has had a dangerous habit of falling behind by double digits in both playoff games so far, only for Mahomes to go ballistic and his team win going away. The 2018 NFL MVP and clear betting favorite for Super Bowl MVP is completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 615 yards and eight TDs with no picks in these playoffs. He also has run for a score.
While the Chiefs had to rally in each game, the 49ers have largely coasted in wins over the Vikings and Packers. The running game has dominated to the point that Jimmy Garoppolo has attempted just 27 passes, completing 17 for 208 yards with a TD and pick. Mahomes has thrown for 209 yards combined and five scores in just his two SECOND QUARTERS. With Tevin Coleman suffering a separated shoulder, journeyman tailback Raheem Mostert was the hero in last week’s 37-20 win over Green Bay with 220 yards rushing and four scores in arguably the greatest postseason performance ever by a tailback. Guy has been released seven times in his career. The Niners believe Coleman will be able to gut it out in this game.
Teams met in Kansas City in Week 3 of the 2019 preseason but obviously, I take nothing from that 27-17 49ers win. A little more from the Chiefs’ 38-27 home win over the 49ers in Week 3 of the 2018 regular season, but keep in mind that San Francisco’s defense is light years better this year than last in part due to the drafting of No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa and a trade for Chiefs pass-rusher Dee Ford (think he’s fired up?). Garoppolo suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of that one.
I’d back either team at home as this looks so evenly-matched. While Kansas City is on an eight-game winning streak and has the superior quarterback, the Niners have been way more dominant in these playoffs against better competition (in my opinion). They also were great away from home, almost winning in Baltimore and taking wins in New Orleans and Seattle during the regular season.
I’ll be buying the Chiefs up to -3.5 and taking the Niners with those points as this feels like a game decided by a last-minute field goal either way. Go under the total.