2020 Super Bowl Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will face off for the Super Bowl title on this Sunday, Feb. 2. Prior to Kansas City clinching their spot in this year’s Super Bowl, they were ranked better than only the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets for the longest Super Bowl drought in the NFL. On the flip side, San Francisco made the Super Bowl just seven years ago in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Since the start of the postseason, Kansas City has averaged the third most yards per game on offense, 419, while also leading the NFL in postseason touchdowns with an impressive 12 in just their past two games. Defensively, San Francisco has been number one in yards allowed per game, holding opponents to just 252 yards on average. In addition to allowing such minimal yardage to opponents, their defense has only had a total of four touchdowns scored on them this postseason. This is set to be a classic matchup between an offensive and defensive juggernaut and will answer the age-old question, “Does defense really win championships?”.
Case for Kansas City:
Kansas City will without a doubt be heavily reliant upon their star studded offense featuring players like Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and their reigning MVP quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes missed two games this season due to injury, but in the 14 regular season games he played he threw for over 4,000 yards and scored a total of 28 touchdowns. He is regarded as the best quarterback in football by many due to his versatility, ability to perform in big games and his elite passing talent. When you pair a player like Mahomes with an elite supporting cast it is a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Travis Kelce is the clear head of the Kansas City receiving core, gaining a total of 1,229 yards in the regular season, which leads the league among tight ends. The only thing missing from this offense is a formidable rushing game, having ranked in the bottom 10 teams for rushing yards this season.
The offensive capabilities of this team have never been in question, however, their defense may be something to be concerned about. Since the start of the postseason, Kansas City has been in the top third of teams for yards and points allowed per game. Against the rush, their defense does fairly well, allowing the third least amount of rushing yards per game among postseason teams. Their defense against the pass has been lackluster, allowing 279 yards per game in the playoffs as well as four passing touchdowns.
Strengths: Tremendous passing game and Patrick Mahomes's superstar play
Weaknesses: Average to below average defense and lack of rushing game
Case for San Francisco:
In nearly every statistic regarding defense, San Francisco has been near the top of the rankings in both the regular and postseason. The 49ers yards allowed, first downs allowed and average points allowed per game totals all rank number one among postseason teams. With a defensive line led by Nick Bosa and a defensive back core led by former Super Bowl champion Richard Sherman, the 49ers are in stellar form on defense.
The 49ers offense has been extremely strong as well, led by offensive stars like Emmanuel Sanders, Raheem Mostert and George Kittle. Kittle has made his case throughout the regular season for the title of best tight end in the NFL, rivaling only Travis Kelce and Darren Waller of the opposing Chiefs. Kittle gained over 1,000 receiving yards in the regular season and scored five touchdowns. In addition to Kittle’s play, Mostert is currently second among postseason rushers, having rushed for 278 yards the last two games.
The biggest concern about the 49ers offensive is the play of Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is currently in the bottom half of the pool of postseason passers, gaining only 208 yards in two games. To put that into perspective, Mahomes has nearly tripled that total with 615 yards over the same amount of games.
Strengths: Elite defense across the board and strong rushing game
Weaknesses: Play of Jimmy Garappolo
Though I believe San Francisco is the easy choice due to their amazing defense, I believe that the big-play offense of the Chiefs will overpower the 49ers defense and will result in a 42-39 win for the Chiefs.