It’s been 50 years in the making, but at last, the Kansas City Chiefs have made their return to the Super Bowl. They are facing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, which, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is taking place in Miami, Fla., at Hard Rock Stadium. The showdown is set to start at 6:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on FOX.
Making it to the Super Bowl is never easy. Some teams, like the Chiefs, have to wait almost an entire lifetime before finding themselves there. It’s possible, win or lose, that it might be another 50 years before they’re back there again. You never know.
Both the Chiefs and the 49ers are talented teams. They’re here because they’re the best. Many have pointed out that the 49ers have run the ball quite a bit in their playoff games against the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. In the NFC Championship Game against the Packers, they racked up 285 rushing yards.
The 49ers were able to win not only because of their running game, but they were able to limit their opponents ability to score points. They won’t be able to do that against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense.
The Chiefs’ defense will need to step up even more than they have over the last half of the season and in the playoffs. If they limit the 49ers in any way while allowing Mahomes and the offense to work it’s magic, the Chiefs will win the game.
To put the game away, the Chiefs will need to step on the gas and not back down. They’ve showed us what can happen when they decide to do that. The wins against the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans are the proof. They can’t play it safe against the 49ers and expect to be handed the Lombardi Trophy without a fight.
The fight can be won if they don’t forget some of the things that they can improve upon, and some of the things that got them to the Super Bowl.
1. Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu
Letting him be who he is has made a world of difference for the Chiefs defense this season. The defensive plays of Steve Spagnuolo and the execution by the defense have allowed Mathieu to flourish and show that he’s capable of reading an offense and adjust accordingly. The Chiefs need to make the 49ers wonder how Mathieu is going to be used in conjunction with the other stars on the defense. “Sack Nation” anyone?
2. The Chiefs’ defense
Everyone knows that the Chiefs’ defense has had issues with defending and stopping the run game. However, anyone that’s taken the time to watch the defense throughout the season will have noticed a steady improvement in the area of stopping the run. The AFC Championship Game against the Titans showed the rest of the NFL what the Chiefs’ defense can do. Stopping Derrick Henry wasn’t easy, but the defense was able to make adjustments and render Henry useless in the second half of the game. They forced Tannehill to throw, and they will need to force the 49ers to utilize Jimmy Garoppolo.
3. Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes
The offensive line will need to offer good pass protection for Mahomes. The 49ers are going to try to force Mahomes to quickly make decisions and get rid of the ball by rushing and collapsing the pocket. Mahomes is great when he has more than three to four seconds to find an open receiver or tight end. He’s able to throw the ball on the run with a high degree of accuracy, but he’s also shown that he can run for yards when needed as well. Mahomes’ natural ability to make plays happen is the key to getting points on the board on a consistent basis throughout the game.
4. The running game
The Chiefs are known for having a really great passing game because that’s what they do best. If the 49ers are able to stifle the passing game of the Chiefs, then they will need to rely on the running game. The offense of the Chiefs has some of the fastest players in the NFL, so with the right play-calling and creation of openings by the offensive line, players like Tyreek Hill, Damien Williams, and Mecole Hardman would have the opportunity to speed their way into the endzone.
5. The mental game
Avoid mental errors and penalties. Mental errors are how the Chiefs ended up down 24-0 against the Texans and 10-0 against the Titans. The Chiefs have shown they are able to come back when down, but they can’t assume they’ll be able to do the same against the 49ers. All season, the Chiefs have shown they have focus, whether it’s at work outs, practice time, or game time. In the Super Bowl, they will need to call upon that focus more than ever. It’s all about knowing you can make the play, and time after time the Chiefs have shown they can. Both sides of the ball can’t allow the 49ers to have any momentum, yards, or points from penalties.
6. The end zone
The team who has the most points at the end of the game wins. The Chiefs need to matriculate the ball down the field. Over and over again. Maybe a few more times after that.
The Chiefs will need to make the most of what they do best if they want to not only win Super Bowl LIV, but to also ensure that they have a chance to return over the next five or 10 years and beyond.
Prediction: Chiefs 35, 49ers 27