Today’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs is a match of two opponents at opposing ends of the spectrum carved out by the variant schools of strategy in the National Football League over the last century.
At one end is the dynamic offensive burst of the new era, elite hybrid quarterback who dazzles the day with both his arm and legs. Patrick Mahomes, the field general of the Kansas City Chiefs, will represent the new way to win in the NFL. On the other end is the power rushing, smash-mouth San Francisco 49ers, with their juggernaut offensive line making way for a trio of talented running backs and a smothering, stifling defense. Old school.
Here’s the puzzle. The best team to take the field at 6 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla., is the 49ers. But the best player will be No. 15, wearing a red jersey with yellow trim. Mahomes is the equalizer. But the 49ers’ defense will have something to say about that. They’ll dare Mahomes and his Chiefs to run.
Surprisingly, the Chiefs are favored to win by three. The pundits don’t like Jimmy Garoppolo. When considering his quest to lead his team to Super Bowl LIV, he is most mentioned by sports gurus as a game manager, like Trent Dilfer of the 2000 Champion Baltimore Ravens. I’m not buying it.
Eight passing attempts. That’s all it took for the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium en route to their sevent NFC Championship title and quest for a 6th Super Bowl ring. This the prominent narrative lately about Garoppolo. And the experts love Mahomes — perhaps blinded by him, but Garoppolo has refused to fold under pressure this season — as he has delivered his most clutch performances when it matters. Per Al Sacco, Garoppolo’s stats in the fourth quarter of games this season: 70 percent completion, 8.33 YPA (yards per attempt), six touchdowns, and one interception. When trailing in-game: 73 percent, 9.1 YPA, 11 scores, and three picks. Finally, when trailing with under four minutes to go: 68 percent, 7.1 YPA, two scores, zero interceptions. So much for the burden of the San Francisco offense holding them back when the team needs a score.
Vegas has the Chiefs winning by a point and a half.
As for my pick, I’ll take the Niners, despite the sultry Garoppolo whiners.
49ers 28, Chiefs 24