Ryan L. Fox
At the start of the 2019 NFL Season, 32 NFL Teams set out on a mission for glory and football immortality. As the weeks passed by, many teams dropped by the wayside as then there were only 12 teams left to compete in the postseason. With the end of the postseason and the 2019 NFL season in sight, only two teams remain standing to do battle in Super Bowl LIV down in Miami, Florida.
Representing the AFC is none other than the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. After having their hearts ripped out by the New England Patriots last year, they were able to burst through and throttle the underdog Tennessee Titans on the final score of 35-24 to. They will be facing off against the San Francisco 49ers of the NFC, a team that went from being cellar dwellers last year to first in the NFC Conference, throttling both the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers on their way into Miami.
But that being said, which of these two teams will end their 2019 NFL Season with a victory and the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy?
After going over stats and game film, yours truly was able to breakdown and come up with different categories along with who had the advantage in each category. Let's see who was superior in what category as well as which X-Factor on each team you need to pay attention to in the game, what three things each team needs to do in order to achieve victory, and a final prediction for the game itself.
This is a no-brainer on who has the advantage on offense between the two teams. You gotta go with the Chiefs in this one. Although the 49ers got some impressive offensive weapons (i.e. TE George Kittle, WR Deebo Samuels, RB Raheem Mostert) and had a renaissance in offense (4th in ypg at 381.1, 2nd in ppg at 29.9), the Chiefs have been playing at a high level of offense over the past few years.
Though some of their offensive numbers were down this year (6th in ypg at 379.2, 5th in ppg at 28.2), they have a plethora of offensive weapons in TE Travis Kelce, RB Damien Williams, and WRs Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman. Most importantly, they are all fast and elusive.Not to mention that they got arguably one of the game’s rising stars in QB Patrick Mahomes, who can not only sling the ball down the field but can do accurately, on the run as well, or just tuck the ball as well if need to.
Oh, by the way, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy can easily dial up any play that can result in a big play or a score. Bieniemy’s group also was tied for 3rd in giveaways at 15 so good luck trying to get them to turn the ball over on offense.
Bosa Bruh! But in all seriousness, if there is one thing that the 49ers can bring to the table is arguably on the NFL’s most complete defenses all around. On the defensive line, you got DTs DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day clogging up the middle that allow DE Dee Ford (6.0 sacks) on the left and DE Arik Armstead (10.0 sacks) to come right off the edge with speed and power and get to the QB. Also, I bet you heard of a guy named Nick Bosa, who brings speed, power, technique, and energy to that 49ers defensive line and got consideration for Defensive Player of the Year (47 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FR).
Then when you move further back, the 49ers defense have a pair of young, fast, and physical linebackers in Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw, both with a nose for the football and can cover in the flat. Then there’s the 49ers secondary, led by Pro Bowler CB Richard Sherman, who bring not only swagger but the ability to knockdown and breakup passes easily.
But the real mastermind behind the 49ers defense is DC Robert Saleh, who can dial up what seems to be the right coverage and defense that can befuddled an offense and harass a quarterback all game long. Combined all that, you got a top defense that can take on any offense in the league and give one hell of a fight.
Because both teams will provide almost equal matchups to one another (Chiefs offense vs. 49ers defense and vice versa), this game could come down to which special teams unit can make that one key play that can shift a game’s momentum. With this, I gotta go with the Kansas City Chiefs. Rookie WR Mecole Hardman is an explosive return man you need to keep an eye on. His kickoff return average of 26.07 (27 returns for 704 yards) ranked 5th in the NFL in that category plus his punt return average (9.28) is impressive as well.
On the kicking aspect, I’d give the edge to Chiefs K Harrison Butker over 49ers K Robbie Gould. Although Gould had the better PAT percentage (97.6 % (41/42) vs. Butker’s 93.8% (45/48)), Gould struggled on field goal attempts of 40 or more yards (6 for 12) compared to Butker, who had better success from that same range (16 of 19, including going 3 for 6 of 50+ field goal attempts).
And even though Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt hasn’t been on the field as much, he can still pin opponents down in their own territory and can put arch in his punts to hang the ball up, giving the coverage team enough time to get down the field and either down the ball or forced a fair catch by the opponent.
I’m reluctant to go with the Chiefs on this one. Andy Reid is a very well-liked and well-respected NFL coach in many circles. Since becoming a head coach back in 1999, Reid has amassed a regular season coaching record of 207-128-1 (.618). But in the postseason, Reid is a paltry 14-14 (.500).
He’s more known for his time management blunders that always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (see 2018 AFC Championship). However, Reid has proven that he can put together a successful game plan when given at least a bye week. Not to mention that having at least one coordinator on his staff that has won a Super Bowl in the past (DC Steve Spaugnolo with the 2007 New York Giants) could prove to be beneficial
If there is one fanbase that loves their team, it’s the Chiefs fanbase. They are passionate, they are loud, and they will travel anywhere the Chiefs go.
X-Factor for the Chiefs
The X-Factor for the Chiefs is WR/KR/PR Mecole Hardman. As stated earlier, Hardman is an explosive return man that can spark his teammates. A perfect example of that was in the divisional round against the Houston Texans. After a Texans field goal made it 24-0 in the 2nd quarter, Hardman took the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Houston 42. That jump started the offense as 2 plays later, the Chiefs scored their first touchdown of the game and opened up the floodgates of scoring (they ended up winning 51-31). Not to mention that Hardman can be a viable target on offense as well (26 catches for 538 yards and 6 TDs), giving Mahomes another deep threat to work with on offense.
X-Factor for the 49ers
The X-Factor for the 49ers is none other than DE Dee Ford. The reason why is because it was just last year that he was playing on the Kansas City Chiefs. Actually, Ford spent the first 5 years of his NFL career at Arrowhead. This means that he is not only familiar with who he will be matched up against (either LT Eric Fisher or RT Mitchell Schwartz) but could understand the Chiefs’ offensive terminology. Combined with the fact he is a big part of that 49ers pass rush (6.0 sacks), Ford could be one of the reasons why the 49ers are able to grab the victory.
Three Things the Chiefs Need to do to Win Super Bowl LIV
Three Things the 49ers Need to do to Win Super Bowl LIV
The Chiefs will score the first game’s points and won’t look back, forcing the 49ers to play catch up for the entire game. The 49ers will make it close in the end with a touchdown to pull withing in one score late in the game but the onside kick will be easily recovered by Kansas City and that will be that.
MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
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