Twenty-one weeks ago, the 2019 NFL season kicked off when the Packers beat the Bears 10-3. Now Super Bowl LIV is just days away, with the Chiefs and the 49ers preparing to play for the championship in Miami. Can Andy Reid finally get this title that’s eluded him for the entirety of his NFL career with Patrick Mahomes at the helm of his offense, or will Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers go from second-worse to first?
The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Who will bring home the Lombardi Trophy? The MMQB staff makes their predictions.
49ers 27, Chiefs 24 | MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Both rosters are loaded, and come into the Super Bowl rolling. So I’m leaning back on principle here. One team needs its quarterback to throw for 300 yards to win, the other doesn’t. And usually, in a playoff setting, the team that doesn’t need its QB to do that often wins. I see a total team win, and Garoppolo doing enough in critical situations to win the MVP, in part because there won’t be an overwhelmingly obvious candidate at the end of the game. (Quarterbacks always win by default in those situations.)
49ers 28, Chiefs 24 | MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
I have been going back and forth on this game all week. For this first time in a while, it feels like a true toss up. I like the 49ers more to win the Super Bowl more than I did two weeks ago, and that's because I think they've rounded into ideal form. They're balanced, they're deep, they can run the ball and control the clock, and they have a defensive line that would give any team, in the history of pro football, fits. I also think that Jimmy G has put together a better season than he's been given credit for. That's why he's my choice for MVP. If the 49ers are going to win this game, they will have to throw it more than eight times. I see them limiting the clock, keeping the ball away from Patrick Mahomes and scoring enough to win. (And then I change my mind. Should be fun.)
Chiefs 31, 49ers 24 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
The Chiefs got off to slow starts in their first two playoff games but the counterpoint to that is they reminded us they can score in a flash. Perhaps the most important matchup of Super Bowl LIV is how Kansas City handles the San Francisco pass rush, who can mix and match different pieces for any situation. The 49ers will try to limit the Chiefs’ possessions with their dominant ground game, but it’s a tall task to keep Mahomes down for four quarters—he has the sole power to change the game.
49ers 30, Chiefs 28 | MVP: Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
With a matchup between two playcallers with deep files of creative offensive plays, it may end up being a candidate outside of the mainstream that breaks the game open. Samuel, who is crazy dangerous after the catch and on various backfield reverse options, could be that person.
49ers 38, Chiefs 35 | MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
This going to be a really close contest, but I think the 49ers’ run game will continue to roll—Kyle Shanahan has called run plays 77% of the time in the last six quarters, to the tune of 6.2 yards per carry—and their defense is the only one capable of putting meaningful pressure on Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ QB still have a great game, but the San Francisco defense will do enough to get the job done.
Chiefs 27, 49ers 20 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
The 49ers' defensive front is scary, but so is the gap between Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo. I don't buy the whole "game manager" critique of Garoppolo —he is a lot more than that, and he may become a great quarterback. But he looked shaky against the Vikings and was not asked to do much against the Packers. Meanwhile, Mahomes is the best player in the league. (Sorry, Lamar Jackson.) This is a quarterback league. I'm keeping this simple and picking the better one.
Chiefs 41, 49ers 34 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
Look, this is bold. I know. But I so badly want a shootout with an insanely high score that I’m willing it to happen. I want Jimmy G to have a brilliant game where he ends up throwing the ball better than he has all season. I want George Kittle and Travis Kelce to be on fire. They say that defense wins championships, but offense raises heart rates, and I want to feel like I’ve run a marathon once the game is over. Last year’s Super Bowl was such a defensive slog that I’m holding out hope for a high-scoring game for the ages. In this fantasy of mine, I also think there’s a good chance that Mahomes will be able to pull off another few magical, sideways throws with his eyes shut and maybe even run for a TD or two. So I’m taking the Chiefs and I’m betting on their QB. Don’t let me down, Kansas City.
49ers 27, Chiefs 18 | MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
There was so much talk and hyperbole of the sizzle that we often forget the steak. The Chiefs, as well as the 49ers, have speed and weapons and, of course, the perfect triggerman for Andy Reid and his explosive offense. But the 49ers, certainly with speed and sizzle of their own and an efficient and productive Jimmy Garappolo, have—like Arby's—the beef. They have proven offensive and defensive lines that can, if not dominate, control the game through their schemes and talent. The offensive line will allow the 49ers to take an early lead and then control and shorten the game. They will not stop Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, but they will limit and frustrate him.
Chiefs 38, 49ers 34 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
I have made literally the most uninspired, unsurprising, unimaginative prediction possible, because sometimes things just happen as they're supposed to happen and life doesn't have surprises for you. Patrick Mahomes is invincible, and even the 49ers' vaunted pass-rush can't bother him enough to hold him in check. With the San Francisco running game slowed to human rates, Kyle Shanahan digs into his pocket to pull out a handful of big plays to keep pace. But a desperation drive in the final seconds is snuffed out when Chris Jones rips the ball loose as he buries Jimmy Garoppolo's impossibly handsome face into the turf, sealing the Super Bowl with a walk-off strip-sack.
Chiefs 34, 49ers 26 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
When the Chiefs have the ball, we’re going to see a great strength-on-strength matchup, but I just think Kansas City’s offense is too good. I know all the reasons San Francisco is built to stop them, but I think they’re good enough that nobody can stop them for a full game.
I see two ways the Chiefs could lose: If they make costly mistakes (turnovers, drops, missed field goals, etc.) or if their opponent has the firepower to beat them in a shootout. Kyle Shanahan does a great job scheming his players into optimal positions, but I just don’t think they’re a team that wants to fly up and down the field with the Chiefs. We’ve seen from the last two weeks that it’s not enough to shut down the Chiefs for a quarter or two. They’ll need to keep Mahomes and Co. at bay for 60 minutes. I don’t see that happening.
And if the Chiefs win behind a big day from the offense, it’s hard to imagine somebody besides Mahomes winning MVP. It’s cliché, but it’s the smart pick.
Chiefs 28, 49ers 17 | MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
Sure, the 49ers’ defense has been an otherworldly unit this season, but I’m not convinced they can shut down Mahomes on this stage. Mahomes is the easy prediction for MVP here, given the way he has been playing this season—but this Super Bowl win (and MVP award) will be just the first in what will be a long, illustrious career for this quarterback.
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