The Super Bowl is unique. Not only is it the biggest game in the NFL calendar and the prize that budding players dream of from a young age, it offers the opportunity for stars, superstars and role players alike to write themselves into their franchise’s folklore. On a stage this big, the men are sorted from the boys.
That will be the case once again on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers travel to Miami, looking to end their respective barren spells without tasting Super Bowl success. The 49ers haven’t lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy since 1994, and the Chiefs are looking to put half a century of misery behind them, having won it just once, in 1970.
The Chiefs start out as marginal favourites in the Super Bowl LIV betting stakes at 81/100 with Marathonbet, but could they freeze in Florida?
Here’s what to expect at Hard Rock Stadium…
Super Bowl Predictions 2020 – Kansas City Chiefs vs San Francisco 49ers
Elite offense vs Elite defense?
There have been murmurs of this Super Bowl simply being a match up of Kansas City’s elite offense against the 49ers defense, and with good reason.
With Patrick Mahomes leading the Chiefs from quarter back, they’ve scored a combined 86 points over their last two games and look almost impossible to stop when Mahomes passes or indeed decides to run with the ball. The 49ers may not be able to boast that same level of offensive output, but what they do have in their arsenal is a mean defense that Mahomes will have to navigate.
They were the second-ranked defensive team in the NFL during the regular season and in the postseason they’ve established themselves as the standout defensive unit, allowing an average of just 252 yards per game, 20 yards less than the next best-ranked New England Patriots.
Strength-in-depth on both sides
To simply pigeonhole the two teams as offense-driven and defense-driven would be doing a disservice, however. The 49ers themselves have a quarter back in Jimmy Garoppolo who Bill Belichick backed to be Tom Brady’s successor in New England, and rushed for the second most yards in the regular season, using a triumvirate of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman to finish with a 13-3 record. Mostert has come into his own in the postseason too, scoring four touchdowns against the Packers and looking unplayable in the process.
Will this be the ‘Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl’?
Last season’s MVP looks poised to be the centre piece to this year’s Super Bowl, with much of the NFL world expecting him to rise to the occasion and lead the Chiefs to glory. Mahomes’ threat is overt, but almost impossible to stop.
The quarter back was one of the leading passers in the league once again and had a quarter back rating (QBR) of 76.3, good for second in the league. Mahomes also has assets that can’t be measured in statistics. When faced with a 21-0 deficit after just one quarter of their Divisional round game with the Houston Texans, Mahomes inspired his teammates and led by example. Seven drives bore seven touchdowns, and the Chiefs ran riot over the Texans. 321 yards, five touchdowns and 53 rushing yards cemented Mahomes’ place among the most clutch players in the NFL.
Can Bosa boss things?
Tasked with stopping Mahomes from controlling the outcome of the game will be a 49ers defense that – with the addition of Nick Bosa – will look to clamp down on Mahomes’ impact. It’s something they’ve done well this season – when Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford are on the field together in the play-offs they’ve allowed a QBR of just 0.7, highlighting just how difficult an evening Mahomes could have.
Whatever the outcome on Sunday, the neutral is in for a treat when the two teams take to the field in Miami. The Chiefs know that they cannot afford yet another slow start. The 49ers defense will not let them back in the game in the way that both the Texans and the Titans did and if San Francisco are gifted an early lead they’ll rely on their running game to slow things down and grind the clock out.
That being said, it’s difficult to imagine a world in which Mahomes doesn’t lead this explosive Chiefs offense to Super Bowl glory.
Super Bowl LIV betting – Best Bets
Odds correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.