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Super Bowl LIV Predix: Does Defense Still Win Championships?

Written by Sam DeCoste

The time has come. From Miami, the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs take on the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV for all the marbles. Both teams have considerable championship droughts, with San Francisco's last title coming in 1994, and Kansas City's only Super Bowl win coming in 1969. On Sunday, we will see strength versus strength, the runaway freight train against the brick wall. KC's top ranked offense led by former MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes will go up against San Fran's number one passing defense for the Lombardi Trophy, in what could go down as a heavyweight battle for the ages.

After predicting 256 regular season games and 10 postseason contests, Franchise Quarterback is proud to present the grand finale. Enjoy my prediction for Super Bowl LIV. Thank you to my readers for a wonderful season, and listening to what I have to say. But without further delay, there's a game to talk about! Enjoy the Super Bowl, and let's get right into it!

Here are my records over this season:
My conference round record: 2-0
Postseason record: 5-5
Regular season record: 159-96-1 (62.1% winning percentage)

For previous Super Bowl content from the last two seasons, check out my older articles from the archive!

Super Bowl LIV
Chiefs vs 49ers

The Immovable Object

In a game featuring some unfamiliar faces, the 49ers are the more experienced squad. Emmanuel Sanders and Richard Sherman are former world champions, Jimmy Garappolo backed up Brady in two Super Bowls, and Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in their Super Bowl appearance three seasons ago. Head coach Andy Reid also coached in a Super Bowl, but that was 15 years ago. The 49ers are the more seasoned, experienced team.

The strength of this team is their defense. Led by Nick Bosa up front, Fred Warner in the linebacking core, and Richard Sherman in the secondary, San Francisco has the most complete defense in the NFL. They finished the season second in total yardage allowed and first in passing defense, which shows they can slow down any and every passing attack in the game. The identity of this defense lies in their pass rush, featuring prolific rookie Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford, and Solomon Thomas. They can force pressure on Mahomes and create havoc in the pocket, which leads to sacks, incompletions, and turnovers. This is San Francisco's strength, and their offense will need to complement it. 

In the NFC Championship, the 49ers ran for 285 yards, including 220 from Raheem Mostert and 4 touchdown scores from him alone. In the previous game, Tevin Coleman ran for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns, showing how versatile, deep, and dynamic this backfield is. Mostert, Coleman, and even Matt Breida can each handle the load and wear down a defense. Under center, quarterback Jimmy Garappolo completed just 6 passes against the Packers, which says less about his ability as a passer than it does about the game plan. The running game works for them, and the passing game can do more when it is called on to do so. Garappolo can get hot, Deebo Samuel is one of the most explosive playmakers in football, and George Kittle, my gosh. Kittle is going to make a number of highlight reel plays on Sunday and pronounce his status to the country as the next Gronk. He will wreck some Chiefs defenders for big catches and runs, and the combination of the running game,  Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle could be one knockout punch too many for KC.

For San Francisco's defense to stamp their imprint on this game, they need to start fast. Force an early punt or turnover, and march the ball down the field on their opening drive for a touchdown, and don't let up. Every time Kansas City steps on the field, there is potential for a shootout. While the Niners have shown this season they can go toe-to-toe with any high octane offense in the league, the Chiefs are a different beast, and they do not want the game to down that route. If the San Fran offense can start fast, and allow Nick Bosa and the crew tee off on Mahomes up front, it will collapse Mahomes and collapse the pocket on him. At times, Mahomes seems unstoppable, but there are ways that he can be slowed down, and the 49ers have the personnel to do it. 

The Ultimate Track Team

They say that defense wins championships, but Pat Mahomes is a human cheat code. This Chiefs offense is capable of breaking that trend with the offensive firepower at their disposal. On the outside, Tyreek Hill is one of the fastest, shiftiest, most explosive receivers in the game, and he has an opportunity to torch Richard Sherman one on one with his Olympian speed. If the 49ers defense double covers Hill, the Chiefs can still stretch the ball down the field with Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman, 
not to mention is the NFL’s greatest security blanket at the tight end position. The Chiefs offense is the ultimate track team. They are stacked. When reports come out that LeSean McCoy may be a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl, you know the Chiefs offense is loaded with weapons. The 49ers will have to cope with Kansas City's playmaking ability, and their speed all night long, which they may not be suited to do.

Oh, and Pat Mahomes plays under center. The reigning MVP threw for 615 yards and 8 touchdowns in two playoff games en route to the Super Bowl, while rushing for 106 yards on the ground as well. Mahomes even ran for a 27 yard touchdown on a scramble drill in the AFC Championship, showing he can be two-dimensional as well. 

Breaking news: the Chiefs offense is good. The game will be won or lost in the trenches, and the Chiefs defense has the most important job of the night: slow down the Niners running game. Mostert can run it, Coleman can run it, and Breida can run it. If the running game is working, the Niners will not stir away from it. But if KC can slow down the ground game, and force Jimmy Garappolo to play quarterback, the Chiefs have a chance to make opportunistic and game-changing plays on defense. Garappolo finished the season with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his last 5 games, and passed for just 77 yards in the NFC Championship. Garappolo is the weak link of this team, and the Chiefs can absolutely capitalize on Sunday with Frank Clark and Chris Jones collapsing the pocket, tipping passes, sacking him, and forcing incompletions and turnovers. 

The path to victory for Kansas City is simple: take an early lead and force San Francisco out of the ground game. Once they ran away from the Titans in the third quarter in the AFC Championship, Derrick Henry, the league's most dangerous runner, became a non-factor. Force Garappolo to lead the 49ers to a win through the air, and the Chiefs have a shot.

Who Will Win Super Bowl LIV?

Prediction: KC 23, SF 27
Most Valuable Player: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Defense still wins championships. In the history of the Super Bowl, the number one scoring offense and scoring defense faced off 7 times, with the defensive squad coming out on top all but once. The 49ers defense had a prolific postseason, and they have the personnel to keep the Chiefs offense in check. This has the makings to be one of the greatest Super Bowls in a very long time, and to be candid, the matchup on paper is a coin toss. It is strength versus strength, two very talented teams, and very well-coached teams. Ultimately, defenses and prolific running games have prevailed in Super Bowls more often than not, and for that reason, the 49ers will win their sixth Super Bowl, tying the Steelers and Patriots for the most in the league. Nick Bosa will make a marquee impact on the night, with a few sacks, and at least one forced fumble to finish the Chiefs.

And the Madden curse. Just saying, the Madden curse is undefeated. That's the real reason why the Chiefs will fall, because Pat Mahomes was the cover star of Madden 20.

What do you think about Sam's prediction? Did he get it all wrong, or might he be onto something? Only time will tell. I hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl Predix, and be sure to stay tuned for more premium football content during the offseason!


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