Sports

Super Bowl LIV Pre-Game Rundown

By: Jesse A. Cook and Jack R. Zinman (Sports Editors)

No teams are more perfectly matched for the Super Bowl than the red and gold squads marching out of Missouri and California.

JESSE’S PICKS:

It’s Tom Brady’s top competitor against Tom Brady’s chosen son. It’s Joe Montana’s lifelong team against Joe Montana’s career’s final resting place. It’s the cover of Madden against the cover of every N.F.L. poster booklet.

If you’re looking for who is the better quarterback, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs or Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers, there is no real definite answer. They are the headliners, but they are both excellent.

The tight ends in George Kittle for San Fran and Travis Kelce for K.C. are virtually the same, as well. The difference lies in that the Niners have a better defense and they have Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders bulking up their offense.

Yes, Sammy Watkins was one of the best receivers this postseason and Mahomes has a great target in him, as well as Tyreek Hill. This does not mean that they will dominate the game. The Niners’ Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Mosely combined for three interceptions this postseason, which led the league. Sherman also came up with three interceptions on his own in the regular season.

Mahomes has lots of trouble when he is reigned into the pocket and forced to stay in one place. He works by moving around and evading tackles until somebody gets open. San Fran has a phenomenal defensive line staffed by Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Deforest Buckner who combined for 6.0 sacks this postseason and 22.0 regular season sacks. Mahomes will have very little time to get rid of the ball and that will be a major pain for him.

On the other hand, Garoppolo faces a fairly formidable foe, but certainly not as good. Kansas City recorded zero interceptions this postseason, but Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornill, and Bashaud Breeland recorded nine interceptions during the regular season.

Garoppolo will have similar problems with the Kansas City defensive line that Mahomes will have San Fran’s. Frank Clark led the league in the postseason in sacks with 4.0 and he combined with Chris Jones in the regular season for 17.0 sacks.

Like I said, these teams are very well suited for each other.

However, Jimmy G. has virtually no problem staying in the pocket and his targets do not take long to break free of the defense. Mahomes is a great quarterback, but he has lots of problems when he is forced to throw quickly because Kansas City receivers tend to like to take a while to get open.

Additionally, San Francisco will own the run game.

Kansas City’s leading rusher this postseason was Mahomes. Damien Williams rushed for a total 92 yards. San Francisco’s Tevin Coleman rushed for 105 yards against the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round. Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards for the 49ers in the N.F.C. Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Two games from Williams could not do what Coleman did in one game and he could not even reach half of what Mostert recorded in one game.

In the regular season, Williams rushed for 45.3 yards per game and teammate LeSean McCoy rushed for 35.8 yards per game. By contrast, during the regular season, Mostert rushed for 48.2 yards per game and Coleman rushed for 38.9 yards per game.

That doesn’t sound like too drastic of a difference, right?

Also, Matt Breida of the 49ers rushed for 47.9 yards per game. The 49ers are simply stacked for running and Kansas City is not.

Lastly, just a hot take, Deebo Samuel will go off and have a terrific night and there is really nothing Kansas City will be able to do about. Sanders and Kittle are their top worries for receiving right now and Samuel will be free. Not to mention, the great switching between the run and the pass that San Francisco seamlessly brings into the equation will confuse the K.C. defense and allow Jimmy G. to hit his targets.

Why will the Chiefs have such a problem? They have a bad running game on their hands and Mahomes will have lots of trouble facing the San Francisco blitz.

Let’s call a sixth Super Bowl for the Bay Area the protege in Jimmy Garoppolo will earn it easily, 48-27.

(Also, Jack technically beat me in the predictions last year, we both picked the Pats in a high-scoring game. My pick was 45-41, his was 38-34. He was technically closer. I call the moral victory, as well as this absolute victory this year.)

JACK’S PICKS:

After coming off a self proclaimed win over Jesse last year in this editorial, I feel confident in winning back to back years.

I feel like this is the Super Bowl we all needed but we didn’t know it until now. Kittle vs Kelce, Mahomes vs Jimmy G, young Shannahan vs the veteran Reid, Harrison Butker vs Robbie Gould!!

There is so much fire power to be displayed Sunday night as the NFL season concludes and let us all hope it will be better than the tragedy that was Super Bowl LIII.

At the end of the day, it will come down to if Mahomes and the high flying Chiefs offense can overcome the highly praised 49ers defense.

The Niners defense has the perfect balance of experienced veterans in Richard Sherman, Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford as well as the hungry youngsters in Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and Fred Warner.

For the Chiefs, their offense got them here. With reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes accompanied by Tyreek Hill, LeSean McCoy, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman.

The 49ers can really stop everybody, even the Ravens, although the weather that day played a factor.

The Chiefs offense in the regular season averaged a mediocre 28.2 points per game but as of late, the Chiefs offense have soared in their past two games scoring 43 ppg in the playoffs.

On the other hand the 49ers defense has been among the best in the league throughout the season. Allowing 19.4 points per game which ranks 8th in the league but they rank second in total defense in the regular season.

The Niners have played much better in the postseason as they have allowed 15 points per game as well as 252 yards per game, both best in the playoffs.

Come Sunday night, the X-Factor of the game will be Jimmy Garopolo. So far the 49ers offense has been one dimensional as they rely on Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman or Matt Breida to have an explosive game.

For example, Jimmy Garopolo threw the ball eight times. A balanced offense will secure the title for the 49ers.

I think the stage will be too big for Jimmy G as he will not be able to carry the 49ers to score a ton of points come Sunday.

But the defense will do their job extremely well as the 49ers will win Super Bowl LIV 26-16. 

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