And then there were two. Sunday brought to a close the entire regular season and playoff run of the NFL, with only Super Bowl LIV left in the cards. February 2 will determine who will be this year’s reigning champs and the two surviving teams for the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, now have 13 days to prep for the big game.
49ers vs Chiefs For Super Bowl LIV
For the Niners and their defeat of the Green Bay Packers, one name was repeated during the game more than any other. Running back Raheem Mostert was a huge part of the San Fran offense yesterday, rushing for 220 yards and picking up four touchdowns. He became the first player in a playoff game to pick up at least 200 yards and four touchdowns, and now has the record for the second-most playoff rushing yards, right behind Eric Dickerson’s performance, with 248, when he was with the LA Rams in 1986.
Mostert has finally found his rhythm after a slow start in the league and it couldn’t have come at a better time. There’s little doubt that he will be both a target by the Niners offense, as well as a target by the Chiefs defense, when the two teams meet in Florida to fight for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Chiefs made easy work of the Tennessee Titans, taking the AFC title, 35-24. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a key part of the win, connecting for 23 out of 35 passes to complete for 294 yards and securing three entries into the end zone. However, his skills weren’t found only in the air. He picked up 53 yards on the ground and was even responsible for one of the team’s touchdowns.
This is the first time the Chiefs have gone to the Super Bowl in 50 years. It was poignant that the AFC championship trophy was presented to the team’s chairman, Clark Hunt. The Lamar Hunt Trophy is named for Clark’s father, who founded the team in 1959.
Next stop for the 49ers and the Chiefs for the Super Bowl, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. After the dismal season the Miami Dolphins had, the turf won’t need a lot of maintenance ahead of the big game, and the usual sea of blue-green on the field will be converted to a sea of red. The red Chiefs sideline led the conference in passing yards, with 4,498, and the red 49ers led in rushing yards, with 2,305. This should make for an interesting game.
San Francisco, which is looking for a repeat of its Super Bowl XXIX win and a rebound from their Super Bowl XLVII loss to the Baltimore Ravens, has a lot on its side. The aforementioned unstoppable force of Mostert has to worry the Chiefs, even if they won’t admit it, and he is going to help control the tempo of the 49ers offense. Additionally, the fact that the Chiefs saw their best ground performance in the AFC win come by way of their quarterback means that San Fran knows it needs to concentrate more on an aerial defense.
Without a doubt, the Chiefs are going to rely heavily on Mahomes to be able to move the chains. However, he’s going to have to do better about connecting in the end zone. In the red zone, Kansas City’s offense hasn’t been that great this year and it’s going to take some creative moves to find open receivers to make the important plays.
Initial Super Bowl Betting
Hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on the Super Bowl, always the biggest sports gambling event in the US. Now, with expanded legalized online sports betting, there will be more money thrown around than ever, and some of it has already been seen. Bets of $100,000, $110,000, $55,000 and more are already being seen. FanDuel even took a “modest” bet of $10,600 for the Niners to win at 11-1 odds. If they pull it off, that bet is worth $127,000.
More big bets are on their way as the next almost two weeks run their course. Currently, the Chiefs are favored at -125 for the Super Bowl, even though the 49ers have beaten them once already this season. Because of their continued strong performance on both sides of the ball, I have to go with San Francisco, though, who is going to work hard to suppress the biggest threat they have – Mahomes.