In the NFL’s 100th season anniversary, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs have earned a shot to compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For the first time in 50 years after reaching back to back AFC championship appearances, the Chiefs, led by dual-threat quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is looking to capture their second championship in franchise history.
The Chiefs have struggled with starting games sluggishly in the first quarter along with injuries and performance issues, but has managed to hang on for the long haul, finishing with a 12-4 record in the regular season.
Key players including Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, left tackle Eric Fisher and defensive tackle Chris Jones all faced injuries over the course of the season. The Chiefs went 2-4 during a stretch of the regular season where both the offense and defense struggled.
The chemistry of the team has shown to be a key component for the Chiefs, employing an array of weapons around their dynamic QB. With massive target Travis Kelce manning the tight end position and track star Hill working along the sidelines, look for Mahomes to hit them deep routes and double-moves.
Since returning from a knee injury that sidelined Mahomes for two games, he’s thrown 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has worked wonders during his first year on the job, experimenting by moving players around and using versatility to their advantage. Take safety Tyrann Mathieu for example, who by the end of the season had played free safety, box safety and slot cornerback all at a high level.
The 49ers entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, finishing with a 13-3 record in the regular season. Considering the team went 4-12 just a year before, the unforeseen turnaround of the ‘Niners has made for a Cinderella storyline.
Having led the league during the regular season in total defensive yards allowed per game (252.5) and defensive rushing yards per game allowed (41.5), the ‘Niners defense has been a force to be reckoned with all year. The defense looks to veteran cornerback Richard Sherman and Rookie of the Year award winner, defensive end Joey Bosa, to continue leading the pack.
Last week Raheem Mostert impeded the Green Bay Packers defense for 220 yards and four touchdowns. A diamond in the rough, Mostert had only 291 yards in his career prior to his monster NFC Championship performance and is now leading the charge for the league’s best ground game (233.5 yards per game).
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh this year as the 49ers defense has allowed just 19 points per game in the regular season and 15 points per game in the postseason.
Coming off a win last week against the Packers that looked almost too easy, the ‘Niners must not allow the Chiefs to find their groove late in the game. The last two weeks, Kansas City has had come-from-behind wins in which they were trailing after the first quarter.
My Super Bowl prediction has the ‘Niners defense leading them to the promised land, winning by a score of 35-24. But if Mahomes can get the explosive Chiefs offense started in the first quarter, they have a good shot to capture the franchise’s second championship.
Super Bowl LIV will be played Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.