After a long journey, the 2019 NFL season will come to an end as the San Fransisco 49ers will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. In this matchup of red vs. red, I am taking the 49ers over the Chiefs in what should be a very exciting tilt.
Don’t Poke the [Honey Badger]
Since 2018, I have been raving about the potential of the 49ers defense, particularly when they signed veteran CB Richard Sherman to a multi-year contract. Many were convinced that he holds nothing more than a high status especially after he suffered a torn achilles in the 2017 season and was ultimately let go by the Seattle Seahawks. Apart from a disappointing end to their 2018 season highlighted with QB Jimmy Garoppolo tearing his ACL, the 49ers defense still showed some strength as they ranked No. 13 in yards allowed per game (346.6) and No. 12 in points allowed per game (21.4). Their biggest weakness was making plays on defense as they were No. 22 in sacks (37.0), No. 32 in interceptions (2), and No. 21 in forced fumbles (11). In a resurgent 2019 Regular Season, the 49ers established themselves as a dominant defense as they were ranked No. 2 in opposing yards per game (281.8) and No. 8 in opposing passing yards per game (19.4). With five first-round picks on defense, the 49ers increased their playmaking abilities by finishing No. 5 in sacks (48.0), tied for No. 17 in INTs (12), and No. 1 in FFs (23). This incredible defense, featuring the fearsome 2019 second overall pick out of Ohio State University DE Nick Bosa, will be too much for the Kansas City Chiefs to handle in Miami.
K.I.S.S. – Advice to Andy Reid
As elite as the Kansas City Chiefs’ passing game is, ranked No. 2 in the league, it is going to face too much adversity when they go up against the 49ers defense. This is not a defense that you can throw deep passes against, because you will be sacked before any of your wideouts can get 10-yards downfield. This is a defense that needs to be beaten by simple plays; short to intermediate passes down the field will be the key to taking down this beast. This is a David and Goliath story without David’s sling. If the Chiefs are going to be able to survive against this pass rush, they’re going to need to keep it simple and force the 49ers to play the long-game. As opposed to all of the opponents Patrick Mahomes has gone up against in the postseason thus far, this is not a defense that you can go on a 5-play scoring drive against. They’re going to force Mahomes and HC Andy Reid to have the best game of their respective careers or else this will get ugly very fast – as we witnessed in the NFC Championship. The Chiefs will need to abuse TE Travis Kelce and their slot receivers in the passing game or else three-and-outs will become the norm in Super Bowl LIV.
The Three-Headed Beast
Last, but not least, the San Fransisco 49ers’ run-game – a three-headed monster that can overcome any run-defense. Heading into the NFC Championship, it wasn’t a secret that they wanted to test Green Bay’s ability to stop the run. Long story short, the Packers were never able to stop the run. It didn’t matter if there were three or eight players stacked in the box, RB Raheem Mostert was going to get the first down, and everyone knew it; hence QB Jimmy Garoppolo only throwing the ball eight times for 77 yards. The run-game totaled 285 yards off 42 rushing attempts for 4 TDs. The Green Bay Packers, one of the most disruptive front-sevens in the NFL, accumulated only 4 tackles for loss and a lone sack. The 49ers attacked the “Smith Bros” and neutralized them the entire game. As for the No. 26 defense in rushing yards allowed per game (128.2), averaging 4.9 YPC, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense is going to be completely exposed to the 49ers intimidating running back trio of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman – all of which ran for 500+ yards in 2019 and averaged 4+ YPC. The Chiefs run-defense will need to be absolutely perfect in order to even have a chance at winning the Super Bowl.
Take the throwing range of Aaron Rodgers, the vision of Peyton Manning, the accuracy of Drew Brees, and the mobility of Russel Wilson; what do you get? Patrick Mahomes II. You could be up 24-0 on the Chiefs in the first half, like the Houston Texans were in the AFC Divisional Round, but Mahomes will never be out of the fight. This was shown in the Chiefs’ incredible rally as the superstar quarterback led the charge by completing 23 of his 35 passing attempts for 321 yards and 5 TDs in a 51-31 victory. With all of that said and done, Mahomes has yet to face a dynamic defense such as the 49ers. Both the Texans and the Titans have a suspect defense that was no more than smoke and mirrors, not to mention that both offensive game plans for each team relied heavily on a single aspect of their offense. For the Titans, it was a red-hot running back that, after being shutdown, their offensive production was negligible. As for the Texans, they did not have a secure run-game and relied heavily on the pass. With a dilapidated offensive line, pressuring QB Deshaun Watson was an easy ticket to the AFC Championship. The Chiefs, and more specifically Mahomes, have yet to face a defense that can stop the run, bring immense pressure to the quarterback, and have a lockdown secondary that will capitalize on any mistakes made. Patrick Mahomes will win a Super Bowl, but it won’t be LIV. It won’t be against the 49ers in the 2019 NFL season finale.