This is it. The entire NFL season now comes down to one game, Super Bowl LVIII. The San Francisco 49ers represent the NFC in this game, and the Kansas City Chiefs represent the AFC. This matchup reprises Super Bowl LIV from four years ago, when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came back from a 10 point third quarter deficit to score 21 unanswered points in a 31 - 20 Chiefs victory. It was the first Super Bowl victory of Mahomes’ career. He seeks a third Super Bowl victory this evening.
The 14-5 San Francisco 49ers beat a very good Detroit Lions team in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers have struggled a bit lately, but they still found a way to get here. The 49ers were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 of the regular season and lost to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 in a game where both teams were playing a bunch of backups. The 49ers then barely beat a so-so Green Bay Packers team in the divisional round, a game in which the 49ers trailed in the final two minutes before a last gasp touchdown drive gave them a hard-earned victory. In the NFC Championship game, the 49ers trailed the Lions by 17 points at halftime before a huge second half comeback secured a tight three point victory. In short, the 49ers have been playing with fire lately. It may be they are due to get burned.
The 14-6 Kansas City Chiefs came into the playoffs looking pretty shaky. They finished the regular season winning just five of their last 10 games. The offense looked like a shell of its former self as Travis Kelce struggled and the wide receivers, outside of rookie Rashee Rice, were mediocre at best.
Then the playoffs began, and the Chiefs caught fire. They blew out the high scoring Miami Dolphins in the wild card round, beat an excellent Buffalo Bills team in the divisional round, and shut down the AFC’s #1 seed, the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Isiah Pacheco has been excellent running the ball, Travis Kelce has looked much more like his perennial All Pro self just in time for the playoffs, and Rashee Rice is growing before our eyes into a potent threat at wide receiver. Couple the offensive improvements with one of the best defenses in the NFL, throw in the future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and the Chiefs seem to be peaking at just the right time of year.
I usually view the Super Bowl through the quarterback matchup. If one team has a big edge at quarterback, that’s usually my pick to win the game, and it frequently is that simple. Super Bowl history is littered with Hall of Fame quarterbacks prevailing over not Hall of Fame quarterbacks. There are exceptions, especially when a historically great defense gets involved, but generally the better quarterback wins. In this game, the better quarterback is Patrick Mahomes, by a wide margin. Brock Purdy had a wonderful run this year, but Mahomes is one for the ages. To make matters worse for the 49ers, the Chiefs have the better defense, ranked #2 in the NFL this season. Purdy is likely going to have quite a bit of trouble against this Chiefs defense. The 49ers are just 1-2 when facing a top 10 defense this season, while the Chiefs are 4-1 against top 10 defenses. Put it all together, and I’m taking the Chiefs to win another Super Bowl this evening, in what should be the third Super Bowl victory of Mahomes’ career.
Last week I went 1-1 in the Conference Championships. That brought my post-season record to 7-5. Let’s see if I can close out the playoffs with a final correct pick.
Embedded below is my pick for the Super Bowl. This is just a simple who wins the game deal. Odds do not factor in. DISCLAIMER: This is just for fun. I make no claims to actually being any good at this. Anyone who chooses to bet according to my picks will likely prove the old maxim, a fool and his money are soon parted.