The NFL season is down to two teams as the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.
Super Bowl LVIII is finally here.
We’ve been keeping track of the NFL season since Week 1 and it all comes down to this: The Kansas City Chiefs aiming to become the first team since 2003 and 2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls take on the San Francisco 49ers looking to win their first since 1994.
It’s the fourth time in five seasons that the Chiefs have been here. They’re Super Bowl veterans at this point. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will still have slight nightmares about their last visit to the big one in 2019.
However, the path the two teams have taken to this point has been vastly different.
The majority of NFL pundits wrote the Chiefs off weeks ago. This has been the worst statistical season of Patrick Mahomes’ career and the wide receiver group didn’t look capable of turning things around. But Mahomes has pushed the majority of that group aside. Those who let him down in the regular season saw a combined one target in the Conference Championship game as Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice became his go-to guys in the big moments.
While the 49ers have been considered one of the best teams in the league for the majority of the season, their three-game losing streak was grossly overblown as injuries decimated the squad at the midway point. Brock Purdy was questioned, in particular. Still, when healthy, there is little doubt that this stacked group led by Purdy is the best in the NFL.
So, the defending Super Bowl champions take on the No.1 team of the regular season.
DVOA profile for the Super Bowl:
49ers: #2 total, #1 offense, #4 defense
Chiefs: #5 total, #8 offense, #7 defense
DVOA profile from 2019:
49ers: #3 total, #7 offense, #2 defense
Chiefs: #4 total, #2 offense, #12 defense
Matchup's certainly different since the last meeting.
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) January 31, 2024
Strap yourselves in.
Where It Will Be Won
49ers: Regular readers here will be well-accustomed to believing in Brock Purdy. What started as doubts around his arm became claims he was only as good as those around him. Like others in the past, it wasn’t long before he was hit with the “game manager” tag. He’s since managed this team to a Super Bowl and was instrumental in their comeback win over the Detroit Lions. Purdy is happy pulling the strings of the most versatile and dangerous offence in the NFL.
The 49ers rank 1st in offensive DVOA, 1st in average yards, 4th in rushing yards and 1st in passing yards. They can do it on the ground or in the air, and the way they line up doesn’t always provide a hint as to which way they’re going on any given play.
Christian McCaffrey deserved to be in the MVP conversation by the end of the season. Deebo Samuel is arguably the most dangerous weapon in the league. Brandon Aiyuk played out a career year and George Kittle, while quiet for the most part, is Mr. Reliable. No team has been able to consistently stop this 49ers offence. Steve Spagnuolo is one of the best defensive coordinators going around, but he has his work cut out for him here.
the Chiefs allowed the 5th most slot targets to WR's in the regular season
Deebo Samuel spends more time in the slot than any other receiver for the 49ers…
with the easier matchup against the Chiefs elite passing defense, expect him to rack up targetshttps://t.co/1efKg1vOSg
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) February 6, 2024
Chiefs: Plenty have doubted Patrick Mahomes over the last few weeks. His record as an underdog has been virally well-documented by now. Still, it’s all on his performance in the Super Bowl. Unlike the 49ers who could still have the firepower to win with Purdy playing poorly, only an elite performance for Mahomes will do.
Isaiah Pacheco has come along leaps and bounces in recent weeks. If there is one area San Francisco has struggled throughout the season, it’s in their rush defence. The Lions exposed them through the middle in the Conference Championship and they rank in the bottom ten across the full season. Pacheco will play a significant role in Kansas City’s success, and the Over on his 67.5 yards will be heavily considered in the build-up.
However, it’s on Mahomes at the end of the day.
If he can play off Pacheco and get Rice going early, the Chiefs can stretch the 49ers defence. Mahomes can work his magic from there.
He has already thrown for 718 yards and four touchdowns throughout the post-season. The defending Super Bowl MVP is connecting on 67% of his throws and is yet to hand out an interception (No Interceptions – $1.83). He’s the $2.35 favourite to win another MVP award and is the deciding factor for both teams in this one.
Super Bowl LVIII Markets
The San Francisco 49ers are $1.77 and -1.5 favourites to win Super Bowl LVIII. Few would argue against Kyle Shanahan’s group being the best team taking part in this one. However, Patrick Mahomes…
He’s 10-1-1 as an underdog throughout his NFL career as a starter. That record is enough on its own for many to take the Kansas City Chiefs as +1.5 underdogs ($1.93).
The 47.5 total has held steady since opening. It’s the lowest total since Super Bowl 50’s lowly 43.5 points. It’s worth noting that the total will have a lot to do with Kansas City’s 21.8 points per game throughout the regular season. They’re performing better of late, though.
As expected, Christian McCaffrey ($1.47 anytime/$4.60 first) and Travis Kelce ($2.12/$9.25) are the heavy favourites to score for their respective teams. McCaffrey has been doing it all season and Kelce is one of the best playoff performers in NFL history. Deebo Samuel’s $2.50 and $10.50 will appeal with his ability to rush one in or catch a Purdy pass.
Christian McCaffrey has scored at least one touchdown in each of his six career playoff games. If he scores in the Super Bowl, he will join Terrell Davis and Marcus Allen for most consecutive playoff games with a touchdown to start an NFL career. pic.twitter.com/Hr5WVNAhg0
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) February 6, 2024
Rashee Rice has scored only seven touchdowns all season and just one in his last five. However, given the lack of reliable options for Mahomes in the red zone, Rice is on the second line of betting at $2.50 and $11. Mahomes himself is on the third line for the Chiefs at $4.80 and $21.
Unlike the Chiefs, there is some congestion at the top of the 49ers market. Brandon Aiyuk ($2.65/$12) and George Kittle ($2.95/$13) have both found the end zone throughout the playoffs and will be an option for Purdy in this one.
Super Bowl LVIII has the potential to be career-defining. Legacy-making.
Kyle Shanahan needs to get over the hump in this one. The last meeting between these two is one that got away for Shanahan and the 49ers. For Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, they can become one of the best duos in NFL history – if they’re not already.
San Francisco is the better team. They’re stacked across the field. While the pass defence is inconsistent and rush defence middling at best, their offence can blow any opponent off the field, leaving any uncertainty over the other side of the ball in the dust. But Mahomes is the best player on the field. He’s proven time and time again that he and he alone is enough to drag the Chiefs to victory.
Much will be made of Mahomes’ record as an underdog but the 49ers should get the job done. The Chiefs finished 2nd in points allowed but the 49ers have more weapons than any other team in the NFL. If the Chiefs defence stops one, there is another. Provided they keep hold of the ball and don’t provide Mahomes with too many extra possessions, the 49ers will flip the result of the last Super Bowl meeting and lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Las Vegas.