Today is the day of the Super Bowl. It’s the San Francisco 49ers vs the Kansas City Chiefs. The line opened Chiefs favored by 1, and has moved to Chiefs favored by 1.5. Most of the analysts I have seen have been choosing the 49ers, but the betting public moving the line a half point suggests the public is backing the Chiefs. My pick is the Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5).
The first thing I look at for a game like this is the quarterback play. While Jimmy Garoppolo had an underrated season – top 5 in the following: passing TD, completion %, and yard per attempt, many think the 49ers don’t trust him after only throwing 8 times in a win over the championship game. The stats back that media storyline up. Garoppolo has consistently thrown minimal passes this year – he only threw the ball 476 times over the year, which was 19th, and if you look at the per game attempts he ranks even lower among NFL quarterbacks. The offense is built around the running game. On the opposite end, the Chiefs offense is built around Patrick Mahomes. The 2019 NFL MVP missed 2.5 games this year and still threw for over 4,000 yards. While the touchdowns weren’t there, those can come and go. (refer to any Bill Barnwell article for a regression to the mean on touchdown percentage). I would give a huge edge to Mahomes with an explosive passing game. The 49ers offense doesn’t usually rely on Garoppolo, therefore there’s a higher chance he is not ready for the situation where they need him. I am rolling with Mahomes every day and twice on Sunday.
Next, I will go ahead and look at other offensive skill positions. The 49ers running game is dangerous, but there is not a specific game breaker on that side. They plug and play as needed. The Chiefs have struggled to run the ball though, so I will give a slight edge to the 49ers. For the receivers, I will take Tyreek Hill/Travis Kelce over George Kittle/Emmanuel Sanders. A slight edge to the Chiefs. Both have great offensive lines.
Finally, let’s move to the defensive side of the ball. The 49ers have been a menacing defense all season ranking second in DVOA, and have only gotten healthier as the playoffs have gone along, getting back star linebacker Kwon Alexander. The Chiefs struggled at the beginning of the year, but have picked it up recently giving up under 20 points per game the last month of the regular season. The 49ers have the edge on defense here, but it’s closer than one might think.
My final pick: Kansas City (-1.5). With all considered, I will pick Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to come out victorious. I have a hard time going against a quarterback who I think will be an all-time great.