Well, after 16 weeks, 3 weeks of play-offs and a Pro-bowl game we finally get to it. The Superbowl. The biggest game of the season and one of the biggest televised events in the world, with more than 115 million people watching in America and estimates are more than a billion people worldwide.
And this game looks likely to be an absolute beauty, with Patrick Mahomes’s Kansas City Chiefs vs Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco 49ers. It’s a game that pits two attacking teams together, two exciting young QBs and two Head coaches who are chasing their first Superbowl wins.
So, let’s have a look at the game and where the game will be won:
Andy Reid – Kansas City – Andy Reid comes in with a huge amount of experience, he’s the oldest head coach in the NFL, and the longest serving without winning a Superbowl ring. Whilst he won a ring with the Packers as an assistant, he’s had none as a head coach and despite 16 winning seasons (including 7 straight with the Chiefs) and 14 Play-off wins since starting with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, where he featured in his only Superbowl as head coach, losing to the Patriots. He plays an attacking game, bolstered by his star QB and after 20 seasons of trying, he’s going to be doing everything in his power to win this one.
Kyle Shanahan – San Francisco – Shanahan comes from a football family, with his Dad Mike Shanahan a 2x Superbowl winning coach, and worked under his father at the Redskins, before moving on to Atlanta as offensive coordinator for the 14-15 season. He was then signed by the 49ers in 2017 as head coach, taking over a struggling 49ers team, turning them around inside 3yrs to get to the Superbowl. He’s a smart tactician, great play-caller and has shown the ability to change things around to suit the teams needs, as shown by the reduced output form Garoppolo over the play-offs where run has seen to be more suited.
Patrick Mahomes – the reigning MVP of the league has come off another strong season, if a little behind his MVP stats, Averaging 287.9 yards a game for 4031 on the year, and 26 TDs for the season. However, it’s in this post season he’s really gone to another level, averaging 307.5 yards a game and has 8 touchdowns and has carried his team on his back as a result. On song, he’s electric and as shown last week can also be damaging with his feet. If the Chiefs are to win, you would expect Mahomes to have a big game.
Jimmy Garoppolo – Already sporting a Superbowl ring from his time at the Patriots, but this time he’ll get to control the game rather than watch it. In is first full season at the helm, he was impressive, averaging 248.6 yards a game for 3978 for the season and 27 TDs but also 13 intercepts so the defence is always in with a chance with Jimmy G is looking to throw it. The surprising thing though are his play-off numbers. He’s gone from averaging around 30 throws a game, to just 13.5 and thrown for just 208 yards total, with 1 TD and 1 intercept. Whilst the 49ers have used the run effectively in the play-offs to date, you wonder why they aren’t utilizing Garoppolo more, or are they worried with the 1-3 pick rate it’s just too dangerous to risk is as mistakes are empathized in play-offs? Will be interesting to see if his utilization is used more in the Superbowl, or if he stays largely a passenger!
Obviously, the QBs are key in most Superbowl’s as shown by the fact they have won 29 of the 54 MVPs awarded, however they may not have it all their own way, so let’s look at the other keys for each team who could make the difference come Monday’s Superbowl
Nick Bosa – 49ers – The Defensive end has been in superb form this post season, totaling 10 tackles and 3 sacks to date. However, it’s more than that, it’s the pressure he has been able to put on the QBS and rushing them that has been key to their defence to date. If he can keep Mahomes under pressure and not allow him time, then the Chiefs offence will suffer.
Frank Clark – Chiefs – like Bosa, Clark has been a key for the Chiefs run to the Superbowl, with 8 tackles and 4 sacks. He’ll be key to stopping the run of the 49ers and making sure when Garoppolo does get to throw that he’s under pressure when doing so, as unlike Mahomes, Jimmy G can be susceptible to throwing picks.
Travis Kelce – Chiefs – The Tight End has been a key plank for Mahomes’s passing game this post season, notching 164 yards carried from 13 receptions. He gets a first down 76% of the time he gets the football and has scored 3 touchdowns in the process. He’s also a strong blocker for Mahomes too when he’s not a target, so you can see why he’s key. Will have to be watched closely or could run amok
Raheem Mostert – 49ers – The running back had a quietish game against the Vikings, but in the NFC Championship game he absolutely monstered the Packers rushing for 220 (and NFL record) and 4 TDs. Now, I can’t see him replicating that again, but if he can keep getting yards and moving the chain, he’s averaging 6.8 yards a carry, then it provides so many options for the 49er’s offence. Between him and Tevin Coleman, these two hold the key to opening the game up for the 49er’s offence.
How do they win:
Chiefs: Put simply, get the ball into Mahomes’s hands as much as possible, give him time to throw it and let him do his thing. He’s shown this play-off that he can be held down but not for long and when he gets hot, he gets scorching hot. Also, use the rush effectively. They have only had 230 yards rushing to date, compared to the 49ers 471. The rush has been hugely effective these play-offs, so whilst you don’t change what’s been successful, if you can get some yards rushing, especially early on, it creates doubt and potentially frees up the receivers a bit more for Mahomes’s to do his thing.
49ers: Smash them on defence. This is one area where I think they really have the Chief’s measure. The 49ers defence has been miserly these play-offs, led by Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. These are the guys that I think can turn the game into the 49ers favour if they can pressure the passer (Bosa) and close down the passing options (Sherman).
The offence, well just stick to what’s working. Run the ball and get yards. Similarly though, use Garoppolo to change things up. He’s a good QB and capable of making big plays. Again, he finds targets early, you open up room to run the football
In a word:
For me, I think their defence can win the game for them, and I’m going a completely ridiculous call and will say Nick Bosa will win the MVP. Not sure when the last time a defender won it, but that’s my call. The 49ers defence plays with pace and aggression. They are superb at taking away time from the QB and if they can limit Mahomes’s time with the ball, then it’s a huge win for the rest of the defence.
On Offence, I just think they will put up enough points to take the game. Between Mostert and Tevin Coleman they have two quality backs that can get them god yards. And don’t forget Garoppolo, who I feel could have a strong game in the Superbowl IF given the chance.
Sadly though, I think it’s more heartache for Andy Reid and the Chiefs.