Super Bowl LVIII is set, as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will battle in Las Vegas for the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs appear to have overcome their regular-season offensive struggles, and even won two playoff games on the road as underdogs against the Buffalo Bills and No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens. As for the 49ers, the No. 1 seed in the NFC scraped by the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to make it back to the Big Game.
This is a rematch of Super Bowl LIV four years ago, where Patrick Mahomes defeated Jimmy Garoppolo for his first Super Bowl victory. Brock Purdy is under center for the 49ers these days, and as a former “Mr. Irrelevant,” he will become the lowest-drafted quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl. What does this matchup hold in store for us? Will it feature plenty of points, or more defense? Who will win Super Bowl MVP? Let’s break down five early predictions for our final game of the 2023 NFL season.
Last week, Mahomes became the first quarterback to not be sacked and not turn the ball over in three straight playoff games dating to last year’s Super Bowl, but he was taken down two times against the Ravens. Getting pressure on the quarterback will be a point of emphasis for Steve Wilks’ unit.
The 49ers defense has struggled this postseason, allowing an average of 386 total yards per game, which ranks No. 6 among the eight teams that played at least two playoff games this year. Bosa is going to take it upon himself to be a game-changer. In 11 playoff games, Bosa has recorded 10 sacks. He got to Mahomes once during their last Super Bowl meeting. This time, he gets to the quarterback twice.
Game comes down to a pivotal fourth-quarter drive
In the last Super Bowl matchup between these two teams, the Chiefs were down 10 points entering the fourth quarter. However, Mahomes’ offense scored 21 unanswered points to win by 11. We won’t see that much scoring in the final stanza this time around, but the ball will be in Purdy’s hands with a chance to win the game late.
Down 24-20 with two minutes remaining in the game, the 49ers offense takes the field following a Tommy Townsend touchback. Purdy begins picking up chunk plays through the air, first on a Christian McCaffrey screen that picks up 12 yards, followed by a 10-yard pickup from George Kittle and then a 20-yard catch and run from Brandon Aiyuk. It looks like San Francisco is going to pull this off. After all, Purdy had zero game-winning drives in the regular season, and two game-winning drives in two playoff games. However, it’s not meant to be for 49ers fans, as Purdy and Deebo Samuel aren’t on the same page on a timing route, leading to a Nick Bolton interception.
Chiefs win while the Under hits
The 49ers opened up as slight favorites over the Chiefs, but the line immediately started moving in Kansas City’s direction. People realize getting Mahomes at plus money is an auto-bet, just like it was in last year’s Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see how the line moves over the next two weeks, but underdogs are 3-0 against the spread in the last three Super Bowls. Favorites are 29-26-2 all time.
Mahomes is 10-1-1 ATS in his career as an underdog, and 9-3 straight up. He’s also 3-0 SU as an underdog in his playoff career, with two of those wins coming over the last two weeks.
The Chiefs have led for 2:05:36 this postseason. That’s the fourth-most by a team entering the Super Bowl since 2000. As for the 49ers, they have led for 27:30. That’s the least amount of time led by a team entering the Super Bowl since 2000. The Chiefs also have the best defense of the Andy Reid era with 17.3 points per game allowed in the regular season, and 13.7 points per game allowed in three postseason contests. The Chiefs aren’t going to waste the best defense Mahomes has ever had, and will cement this team as a dynasty.
That’s also why I have this game going Under. The Under is 14-6 in Chiefs games this year, and 9-9-1 in 49ers games. The Chiefs didn’t need an offensive explosion to defeat the Ravens, while the 49ers needed to create a second-half offensive explosion just to have a chance vs. Detroit.
Mahomes wins Super Bowl MVP
A whopping 12 out of the last 17 Super Bowl MVPs have been the quarterbacks of the winning team. In fact, when Kansas City defeated San Francisco back in 2020, I thought it should have been Damien Williams that won Super Bowl MVP, not Mahomes. Mahomes turned the ball over twice while Williams averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 17 rushes, and scored once on the ground and once through the air. But, MVP is a quarterback award, whether that be in the regular season or Super Bowl.
I predict Mahomes will become the first player to win three Super Bowl MVPs in a five-year span. Another Super Bowl MVP would make him the third player in NFL history to win three Super Bowl MVPs, along with Joe Montana (3) and Tom Brady (5).
Travis Kelce retirement speculation heats up
Kelce is already a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and an NFL postseason legend as well. He currently ranks second in playoff receiving yards (1,810), first in playoff receptions (156) and second in playoff receiving touchdowns (19).
After his third Super Bowl win in which he scores a touchdown, with Taylor Swift by his side as confetti falls from the sky, Kelce makes an eyebrow-raising comment concerning his future, saying he’s going to take some time to ponder what’s next. That ramps up retirement speculation, and Kelce ultimately does step away this offseason, just like his brother.