UA-59049186-1 Super Bowl LIV Prediction - Good if it Goes

Super Bowl LIV Prediction

So, here we are. The greatest day of the year. The Super Bowl. This year presents an intriguing matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and their excellent offense and the San Francisco 49ers and their excellent defense. Let’s dig in.

Chiefs run offense vs. 49ers run defense

The Chiefs finished the season 14th in run offense DVOA. Not terrible, but not great, either. The 49ers were 11th in run defense DVOA. Ditto. During the playoffs, Patrick Mahomes has been the Chiefs leading rusher in both games and in neither game has Damien Williams cracked 4 YPC. Williams was held to 3.9 YPC on 12 carries against the Texans, who ranked 22nd(!) in run defense DVOA, and 2.6 YPC(!) on 17 carries against the Titans who were 10th. This space predicts Mahomes will again be the leading rusher, but few if any of his attempts will be designed runs.

Advantage: 49ers

Chiefs pass offense vs. 49ers pass defense

Here we go. Strength against strength. Each team was 2nd in their respective area in DVOA. The issue here is how the 49ers are going to handle the Chiefs’ scheme. The 49ers are a heavy zone team, specifically cover 3. Arrowhead Pride took an in-depth look on concepts the Chiefs can employ to beat that defense. The Chiefs have a pair of quality tackles to handle the 49ers edge rushers and a lot of speed to give the 49ers fits. Also, the RPO game. That’s a zone killer, and as the linked article gets at, the 49ers LBs can be had. The Chiefs feature 3 very good receivers with a ton of speed in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman, plus Travis Kelce, arguably the NFL’s best tight end. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with. I don’t know if the 49ers can keep up.

Advantage: Chiefs

49ers run offense vs. Chiefs run defense

You remember how the Packers looked a couple weeks ago? Well, the Chiefs were 6 spots worse in run defense DVOA than that.

Advantage: 49ers

49ers pass offense vs. Chiefs pass defense

The 49ers actually finished the season higher in pass offense DVOA than they did in run offense DVOA (8th and 13th, respectively.) Jimmy Garoppolo threw for just shy of 4,000 yards with just over a 2:1 TD-to-INT ratio, so he’s not just a bus driver. But can he make the throws against the Chiefs’ DVOA #6 pass defense? Will he even need to?  The 49ers have a strong offensive line to keep Jimmy G upright and deal with Frank Clark and the Kansas City pass rush. They also have some speedy receivers of their own and the other guy with a legitimate claim to the title of “NFL’s best tight end.”

Advantage: Toss-up.

If the 49ers get to play their game, they’re going to be hard to beat, so the Chiefs can’t afford to start slow. But the Chiefs bring a lot more to the table than the Packers did in that blowout. The 49ers aren’t going to be able to win the game throwing 8 times, rough though that KC run defense may be. The key to the game is going to be the KC passing game. If the 49ers can contain them, San Francisco takes the game. But given that the Niners will be at a schematic disadvantage there, I like Kansas City.

The pick: Chiefs 31 49ers 27 (KC -1.5, over 54)

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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