Alright, so the day has finally come to celebrate a Super Bowl that doesn’t feature the New England Patriots. For just the second time since 2013, Lord Brady won’t reign over the Super Bowl. Instead, we get Patrick Mahomes vs. former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo as the offensively-minded Chiefs take on the 49ers and their lethal defensive line. Five years ago, Kansas City came up painfully short against San Francisco in the World Series, then finished the job a year later. The Chiefs came up painfully short against New England last year and has a chance to finish the job on Sunday.
So, who has the edge in Super Bowl LIV?
It’s hard to believe the 49ers outscored the Chiefs this year (and the Chiefs actually gave up fewer points). The narrative seems to be that the two big strengths here are the Chiefs’ offense and 49ers’ defense. But I think the offenses are more evenly matched than people realize because of the running game and greatness of George Kittle. The Chiefs have the blatant edge at quarterback, and some serious speed at receiver, but San Francisco boasts the slightly-better tight end and a much better running game. Edge: Chiefs.
The Chiefs have gotten here on the strength of their offense, but the defense has been solid too. Of course, the 49ers have shut down Minnesota and Green Bay, two better teams than 4th-seeded, 10-6 Houston and 6th-seeded, 9-7 Tennessee. The defensive line can be unstoppable and I have a hard time believing the Chiefs have faced one this good yet. Edge: 49ers.
It was special teams that woke the Chiefs up against Houston, even after a few early miscues. The kicking games are pretty even and Dustin Colquitt is one of the best punters in the biz. I’d give the slight edge to KC based on the fact that Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill can break a game open at any moment. Edge: Chiefs.
This one is hard. Andy Reid has the most wins ever without a Super Bowl title. Kyle Shanahan’s last trip to this stage resulted in some awful play-calling that blew a 28-3 lead. But something tells me Reid isn’t going to squander this opportunity to finally get over the hump, and that Shanahan may still not be over what happened to his Falcons three years ago. Edge: Chiefs.
I so badly want to give all the edges to San Francisco here, especially because they emerged from the tougher conference, beat better teams in the playoffs, and just play old-school, smash-mouth football. But it feels like the path is clear for the Chiefs and this is their moment. Ironically, playing in Miami, they can thank Ryan Fitzpatrick for being here, as his last-second TD pass lifted the Dolphins to a huge upset win of New England in Week 17 that gave the Chiefs a first-round bye. Also, could a Patriots conspiracy be at play? A year after joining the six-title club, will Boston hand another trophy to a San Francisco team to join them? That happened to the 2013 Red Sox with the Giants, who, ironically, beat Kansas City in the 2014 World Series. The Patriots can kick up their heels watching this game knowing they’re still the last (and only) team to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs in the postseason. Edge: Chiefs.
Again, my heart wants to go with the 49ers. I feel like they have the formula to win. But they also have Jimmy “one pick a game” Garoppolo, who seems destined to throw a critical one while Mahomes delivers some late magic. It’s always tempting to go against the consensus, which is this case is a Chiefs high-scoring win, but after last year’s 13-3 dud, I’ll try and get out of my recent title-picking slump by drinking the Kool Aid — and pick Kool Aid Man Reid to finally get over the hump. Chiefs 38, 49ers 35.