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Super Bowl 54 is going to be an interesting matchup. The San Fransisco 49ers became just the third team to reach the Super Bowl after only winning four or fewer games the previous year. A big part of that has to do with being the best defense in the NFL. The Chiefs were so close to the big game last year, once again they have one of the most stellar offenses this year that is led by reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes.
What are the interesting matchups?
The San Fransisco run game has been the key to their offense during the season. The 49ers lead the league with 23 rushing touchdowns and were second in rushing yards-per-game.
What makes them so dynamic is the tandem of Raheem Mostert/Tevin Coleman/Matt Brieda, who all contribute to their smash-mouth type of football, it helps when they can have a fresh runner on every play. Mostert has been the star the last few weeks which includes his 220 rushing yards and a four-touchdown performance in the NFC title game.
The Chiefs run defense was their weak point. They were 29th in rushing yards allowed per-carry and 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. They have however significantly improved towards the end of the season; they have not allowed a 70-yard rusher since Week 13 of the regular season, including the NFL’s leading rusher Derrick Henry, who had 200 total yards in the previous two playoff games, to just 69 rushing yards. Can they keep up that type of play up against San Fransisco?
Another matchup to look at is the Cheifs passing offense going against the 49ers passing defense. The Kansas City offensive power was on point. The team was third in offensive yards per game, this mainly due to their passing game, which was second this year. We know what Patrick Mahomes is capable of; so far in this year’s playoffs, he has 615 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
However, the San Fransisco defense was number one in terms of passing yards per game, yards gained per pass attempt, and yards gained per-pass completions this season.
But for someone of Mahomes’ talent, he’s almost matchup proof.
After the Cheifs Week 12 bye, Mahomes had one of the toughest schedules facing the Chargers twice, Bears, and Patriots, all defenses that were top ten against the pass. The Chiefs won all of those games and scored 27 points per game and put up 400 yards of offense in those matchups. Can Mahomes take down another top tier passing defense?
Key Stats To Know
The 49ers are known for their run game, but Jimmy Garoppolo and the passing game is underrated. The 49ers had 7.4 net yards per pass attempt, to show how good this is, the Chiefs were at 7.5. San Fransisco and Baltimore were the only two teams who ran more than pass, but they’ve shown they can move the ball through the air when needed.
How good is the Chief passing game? They had 13 touchdowns of 20 or more air yards, most in the league. However, they are facing a 49ers defense that gives up the least amount of air yards-per-game and adjusted net yards per play. This defense can stop the big plays; on passes that were intended to be 15 yards or more San Francisco allowed the least amount of completions, third-least catchable targets and was fourth in expected points allowed. If there’s any team that can stop the deep ball, it’s the 49ers.
The 49ers know how to move the chains; they averaged 6.7 yards per 1st down plays. The Cheifs were in the middle at seventh in terms of yards allowed per play. The 49ers need to try and move the chains to keep Kansas City’s offense off the field, obviously.
Mahomes seems to have recovered from the knee injury from earlier this year. He is leading rusher for the Cheifs during this postseason, including a 27-yard rushing touchdown late in the third quarter of the AFC Championship game to give Kansas City a permanent lead. His healthy legs could play a factor in this game.
What does the history of the Super Bowl tell us about this game?
We’ve seen these matchups of great offenses vs. great defense. Who tends to win those games?
Since 2000, the team with the higher-ranked offense is 7-12, losing by an average of 5.6 points. The highest-ranked defense is 15-4, winning by an average of 7.7.
If you look at when a top-five defense goes against a top-five offense, those defenses, recently, are 6-2.
In the case of a more balanced team going against a really good offense and bad defense, that has happened the last three years and the balanced team has won each time.
With those stats in mind, it does not look good for the Chiefs. That’s the thing about history, it doesn’t necessarily predict the future. The fate of this game is still in the hands of these two teams. We’re still going to see some of the best players in the game shine on the biggest stage. We’ll see which of these stats plays a role this Sunday.
My guarantee stat for this weekend: I will consume 23.5 chicken wings, which is my average.