San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. PT
The NFL campaign has only two teams remaining. And in this year’s Super Bowl, it will be arguably the No. 1 offense and defense in the league doing battle.
Whichever side prevails in this particular clash of top units will likely determine how the over/under plays out. So, what side to lean on in a proverbial matchup of the irresistible force and the immovable object?
Well, you’d simply be foolish to go against Patrick Mahomes and Co. at this point. Not only do they obviously score in bunches, this is also group that ranks pretty high historically.
After all, in Mahomes’ first season as the starter a year ago, the Chiefs put up a whopping 35.3 points per game, which ranks third in NFL history. This season, KC clocked in with about a touchdown less (28.2), but if you also factor in the club’s two playoff contests, that number is actually a very scrumptious 29.8.
The Chiefs’ offense also enters red hot, having tallied well over 100 points in their last three games dating back to Week 17 (a crucial division game they needed to win for postseason bye). Why go against this clearly special run?
If you think having a week off could create rust and throw a superstar like Mahomes out of rhythm, think again. In the 24-year-old’s young career, there have been five instances where he was coming off at least an extra week of rest, whether it be after a season/playoff bye or returning from injury. Mahomes was typically just lethal in the ensuing game, registering a blistering 110.8 passer rating in such games while connecting on 13 touchdowns compared to zero picks.
Additionally, the Chiefs scored almost 40 points on average — 38.8 to be exact. It seems rest only makes him sharper.
Having all of this in mind, it can be gathered that Kansas City’s floor is favorably high for an over, with a notably strong possibility to serve up a real crooked number on the scoreboard.
The 49ers boast a very good defense, of course, even surrendering the fewest passing yards in all of football during the campaign (not to mention that defense is engineered by Zylbert Guy Robert Saleh, as longtime readers know). But simply put, I just don’t think anyone can stop Mahomes right now.
Furthermore, let’s not forget Mahomes actually got a taste of this defense early on in 2018. He apparently enjoyed his course, completing 24-of-38 passes (63.2 percent) for 314 yards, three scores and no interceptions. In the process, Kansas City dropped 38 and won quite handily.
Jimmy Garoppolo also started in that game. As fate would have it, that turned out to be his final showing of last season, ultimately suffering a torn ACL in the Week 3 affair.
Prior to that, the former New England Patriot was rolling, sizing up the Chiefs defense for 251 yards on 20-of-30 passing to go along with a pair of TDs and zero INTs.
In his first full season with the Niners, Garoppolo picked up where he left off from that day at Arrowhead Stadium and went on to have a very nice season that perhaps not enough people are giving him credit for.
This can be represented by the fact that the QB otherwise known as Jimmy G notched an impressive 102.0 passer rating during the regular season. To put this in perspective, less than 10 quarterbacks had a rating of at least 100.0 this season. Garoppolo also maintained a completion percentage that was just a tick below 70 percent, tying him for fourth in the league.
Another crucial item about this team that a lot of people don’t realize: San Francisco finished second only behind the Baltimore Ravens in scoring with 29.9 points per week. For comparison’s sake, only 21 teams in the history of the NFL have ever posted 31 points on a weekly basis. Notably, the 49ers averaged more than that (32) in the two playoff victories.
Beyond Garoppolo, it’s really a Kyle Shanahan unit that gels well, consisting of all these parts capable of contributing in a unique way, like Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert. It’s also mandatory to point out maybe the offense’s best player, tight end George Kittle, who many consider — behind his counterpart in this one, Travis Kelce — the second best at his position in the game.
Though the Niners displayed a heavy tendency to run the football throughout January, which would tilt to an under, this specific matchup forces them to alter that game plan, knowing they’ll have to keep up with a probable high scoring total.
Therein exists the backbone of this bet, as the historic Chiefs offensive unit can set the tone and dictate pace. I’m also buying a half-point to 53.5 (-120), so that 30-24/34-20 would prevail (and as an extra last grasp to extend my personal seven-game Super Bowl total winning streak). Play: OVER
Last Result: Titans-Chiefs Under 52 (loss)
2019-20 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 12-11, -0.9 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit