Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Brendan Murphy and Ashlyn Jess

Brendan – 49ers

Remember Super Bowl XLVIII? The Denver Broncos, who had the best offense in football and Seattle Seahawks, who had the best defense in football, matched up against each other. That game wasn’t even a contest as the Seahawks blew out the Broncos 43-8. We have a similar situation this year in Super Bowl LIV, with one of the most dynamic offenses in football against one of the best defenses in the league. The American Football Conference (AFC) Champion Kansas City Chiefs will take on the National Football Conference (NFC) Champion San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.

Let’s take a look at the teams

There’s a saying in sports: defense wins championships. The 49ers come into this game as the second best defense in the NFL allowing just 281.8 Yards Per Game (YPG). The offense is led by Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired from the Patriots in 2017. He has become one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, leading an offense averaging 381.1 YPG, good for fourth in the league. Running back Raheem Mostert had a phenomenal showing against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, carrying the ball 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns.

The 49ers know they can use the run to their advantage as they threw the ball just eight times against the Packers and still put up 37 points. Their defense is up against a dynamic Chiefs passing attack, but they match up well. The 49ers are the best in the league at stopping passes, allowing only 169.2 YPG. Led by veteran corner Richard Sherman, the 49ers secondary has dominated all year. While they did give up 326 passing yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, they came away with two interceptions and stepped up in other areas.

The Chiefs ranked sixth in the league in total offense (379.2 YPG,) but don’t let that fool you, as they are equipped with 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes at QB. He has great arm strength and the ability to get out of the pocket to make big plays at any moment, which will be key against the intimidating pass rush of the 49ers. Mahomes and his group of elite receiving targets led by Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have torched opposing secondaries all season long and will look to do the same in the Super Bowl.

Most of Chiefs’ offense comes through the air but running back (RB) Damien Williams is a solid option out of the backfield. They also like to run the occasional end around with either Hill or Demarcus Robinson, both with elite speed to hit a corner and make a big play. Defensively, they may have an issue stopping the 49ers. The Chiefs ranked 17th in total defense, which could be a huge problem for them against another outstanding offense.

Now let’s talk Super Bowl LIV

Both of these teams have had outstanding seasons. The Chiefs have more recent experience deep in the playoffs, having been to the AFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons. The 49ers are coming off a 4-12 season in 2018, which saw Garoppolo miss most of the season with an ACL tear. The team picked second in the 2019 NFL Draft and took Nick Bosa. That pick had a huge payoff, with the 22-year-old defensive end totaling 47 tackles, nine sacks and even adding an interception.

I like the Chiefs passing attack, but against the league’s top passing defense, I see Mahomes struggling to get into a groove. I don’t expect them to go to the ground game much since it hasn’t been effective this postseason. I’d expect the 49ers to open up a lead early but see the Chiefs coming back as the game progresses.

Las Vegas expects a high scoring game with the over/under set at 54.5. The Chiefs are also a 1.5 point favorite, so keep that in mind as you place your bets for Sunday. In the end, I like the 49ers to come out on top and capture the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. I’ve been saying the 49ers would win it all since about Week 5 of the season and I don’t plan on changing that pick now. I’ve got the 49ers by a final score of 31-24.

Ashlyn: Chiefs

Super Bowl LIV is going to come down to strategy, speed and luck. According to NFL.com, the San Francisco 49ers have the second best defense in the NFL, behind the New England Patriots. With defensive end Nick Bosa as the team’s main pass rusher alongside Richard Sherman, the talented cornerback whose interception in the NFC Championship sealed the team’s trip to the Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his offensive mates will be facing one of their toughest challenges yet.

With a 65.9% completion rate, 4,031 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, Mahomes continued to showcase the skills that made him the league’s MVP last season. With agility, speed and quick thinking, Mahomes can be an unstoppable force.

Chiefs set a record

Mahomes silenced any doubters when he and the Chiefs scored six unanswered touchdowns against the Houston Texans after trailing 21-0 in the divisional round of the playoffs. According to cbssports.com, the Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to win by over 20 points after trailing by over 20 points in a postseason game. That game was one for the record books and if it doesn’t show what the Chiefs and Mahomes are capable of, I don’t know what will.

Mahomes isn’t the only key player on the Chiefs’ roster for Super Bowl LIV. All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce has displayed a connection with Mahomes after catching three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ victory against the Texans. Although Kelce has struggled with injuries at times, he is ready to go for the Super Bowl. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill caught five of seven targeted passes and scored two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ win over the Titans . After being named the 19th best player on the 2019 NFL Top 100 players list, Hill should instill some fear in the 49ers’ defense.

The Chiefs’ defense struggled for the first 10 weeks of the regular season but seemed to turn it around once they reached the postseason. Led by safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark, they proved their worth by holding Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry to just 69 yards in the AFC Championship Game.

Strap in for a good game

This should to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. With the Chiefs’ explosive offense and the 49ers’ consistent and proactive defense, this could be anyone’s game. It will come down to smart plays, anticipating the other team’s moves and, if necessary, risky plays to secure the Lombardi Trophy. In the end, I expect the Chiefs to come out on top by a score of 38-27.

Contact the Writers:

Ashlyn: [email protected]

Twitter: @tww_ajess

Brendan: [email protected]

Twitter: @B_Murphy_MU