Although Kansas City running back Damien Williams deserved to be named Super Bowl LIV MVP, Sunday’s fourth quarter again established that the NFL is a quarterback’s league.
Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs with significant help from Williams and became the seventh QB to be honored as the most valuable player of the “Big Game” over the past 10 seasons, making it 30 winners at his position in 55 title games.
The 49ers looked stronger along both lines and would have won if their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, hadn’t played so poorly down the stretch. He missed receiver Emmanuel Sanders on what would have been a late go-ahead touchdown and couldn’t move the chains when he needed to.
The Chiefs are favored to repeat as champions, opening at 5-to-1 at the Westgate. It’s Mahomes’ league now, although newly crowned regular-season MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are right there at 8-to-1 after a 14-2 regular season. San Francisco (+800) is the NFC favorite.
Nine of the last 19 Super Bowl losers failed to make the playoffs the following season, so I’d want nothing to do with that future. Combined with the lack of confidence Garoppolo inspired to wrap up a postseason in which it became clear that head coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t trust him, it’s hard to blindly back the 49ers to break through in Tampa Bay next February.
In 2020, NFL titles boil down to dynamic quarterback play. There’s a reason why four of the last five No. 1 overall picks were QBs. A franchise’s fortunes can change with the right player at the controls, which is what the Bengals are counting on as they zero in on selecting LSU’s Joe Burrow first in April’s draft.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Utah State’s Jordan Love, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts will all have the fan base of the teams that select them in the early rounds on the Strip enthused. Cincinnati hopes that replacing Andy Dalton with Burrow will one day lead to the city’s first Super Bowl win. Hope springs eternal, right?
Dalton will end up elsewhere as a likely starter, where he’ll be looked at as a potential savior too. I’ll ask you to preemptively pray for that city, but the undeniable truth is that quarterbacks make the NFL world spin. Replacing the one who hasn’t worked out for you with someone who flamed out elsewhere will always be a band-aid teams utilize.
Patriots star Tom Brady is a free agent. The 42-year-old used a Super Bowl ad to provide assurances that he’ll be playing somewhere in the fall. New England wants him back. The Raiders may want his influence in building a winner in Las Vegas.
The Saints hope Drew Brees returns. Ben Roethlisberger will return to Pittsburgh after missing most of 2019. Will Cam Newton do the same in Carolina? The Lions must make a decision due to Matthew Stafford’s health. Philip Rivers is out there, unlikely to continue with the Chargers.
Former top picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota may move on after failing the teams that once looked at them as the future.
The merry-go-round continues and they’ll all catch on elsewhere and continue to ride.
My most recent choice to win it all, New Orleans, was denied again despite another impressive run. Over the past three regular seasons, the Saints now have more wins (37) than even the Patriots (36) with nothing to show for it.
If Brees returns, they would be my early choice to try and prevent the Chiefs from repeating but I’d want better odds than 10-to-1. Mahomes isn’t done winning and will probably earn himself a Super Bowl MVP that he truly deserves down the road to pair with this first one.
Last week: 1-0
Final 2019 record: 52-56-2