Super Bowl LIV is nigh as San Francisco and Kansas City will battle for the NFL Championship on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. Kickoff for the 49ers vs. Chiefs clash is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. It’s an even calendar year so the AFC is the designated home team in South Beach. Will the NFC Champion 49ers win a sixth Vince Lombardi trophy or will the AFC Champion Chiefs claim a second NFL title?
Spread: Chiefs -1 (-110) | 49ers +1 (-110)
Moneyline: Chiefs (-120) | 49ers (+100)
Game Total: OVER 54.5 (-110) | UNDER 54.5 (-110)
How They Got Here: San Francisco 49ers
· Betting Record: SU 15-3 | ATS 11-6-1 | O/U 9-8-1
· Offense: Second, scoring 29.9 points per game
· Defense: Eighth, allowing 19.4 points per game
· Turnover Rank: 11th with a +4 differential
· Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +4000
After posting a dismal 4-12 record last year, San Francisco joins the Cincinnati Bengals and then-St. Louis Rams as the only teams to advance to the Super Bowl one season after winning four games or fewer. During their turnaround seasons, the Bengals lost to San Francisco in Super Bowl 23 while the Rams defeated Tennessee during Super Bowl 34. The 49ers went 13-3 during the regular season, outscoring opponents by a 479-310 margin, and finished as the top seed in NFC playoffs.
Following a first-round bye, San Francisco hosted Minnesota and posted a 27-10 Divisional playoff win. The 49ers had 47 rushing attempts and racked up 186 yards with two touchdowns. A rather fluky 41-yard TD catch by Stefon Diggs plus a 39-yard field goal was all the scoring the Vikings could manage. The 49ers defense held Minnesota to 147 yards, sacked Kirk Cousins six times, forced two turnovers and dominated with a 38:27 to 21:33 time of possession.
It was more of the same in the NFC Championship game as San Francisco hosted Green Bay and won 37-20 to advance to Super Bowl LIV. The 49ers’ ground game (285 yards on 42 carries) was the key to victory again as Raheem Mostert was unstoppable while posting 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers defense allowed just 62 total rushing yards, sacked Aaron Rodgers three times and forced three turnovers. The Niners are riding a four-game winning streak.
How They Got Here: Kansas City Chiefs
· Betting Record: SU 14-4 | ATS 12-5-1 | O/U 10-8
· Offense: Fifth, scoring 28.2 points per game
· Defense: Seventh, allowing 19.3 points per game
· Turnover Rank: Seventh with a +8 differential
· Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +600
Posting a 12-4 record last season, Kansas City lost 37-31 in overtime to New England in the AFC Championship game. Regrouping, and led by 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs went 12-4 again this year and earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. After jumping out to a 4-0 record, Kansas City hit a rough patch as the Chiefs went 2-4 over the next six contests. Kansas City outscored its opponents 167-69 and won six straight games to close out the season.
After enjoying a bye, during the first-round of the AFC playoffs, Kansas City hosted Houston and posted a 51-31 victory in the Divisional round. The Texans sprinted out to 24-0 second-quarter lead but it was all Kansas City after that as Travis Kelce and Damien Williams each score three times to put the Chiefs up 41-24 late in the third quarter. After dealing with short fields early, the Kansas City defense stiffened and sacked Texans QB Deshaun Watson four times.
Facing Tennessee in the AFC Championship, who previously defeated New England and Baltimore, Kansas City fell behind again before posting a 35-24 win. The Titans jumped out to a 17-7 second-quarter lead but the Chiefs roared back with four straight touchdowns and were up 35-17 before Tennessee scored late in the game. After he posted 406 total yards, against the Patriots and Ravens, the Chiefs defense held Titans RB Derrick Henry to 61 total yards.
Super Bowl LIV Fantasy Football Studs and Duds
As part of a solid research plan, it’s wise to review the fantasy football studs and duds on both Super Bowl LIV squads. The talented team at Fulltime Fantasy Sports helps with that process as they have posted a comprehensive review of the Kansas City vs San Francisco showdown. I see the Chiefs having an edge at quarterback while the 49ers have a slight edge at running back and on defense. Wide receivers, tight ends and special teams are fairly even in this contest.
Chiefs and 49ers: Notable Same Opponent Results
San Francisco and Kansas City played two of the same opponents this season. The Chiefs defeated Baltimore 33-28 at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 3 while the 49ers dropped a hard-fought 20-17 decision to the Ravens on the road at M&T Bank Stadium during Week 13 action. Kansas City lost 31-24 at home to Green Bay in Week 8. San Francisco hosted Green Bay twice and crushed the Packers 37-8 in Week 12 prior to its 37-20 NFC Championship win.
What to Expect When San Francisco Has The Ball
Second behind Baltimore (3,296 yards on 596 attempts) San Francisco dialed up 498 running plays during the regular season and recorded nine games with at least 120 rushing yards. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the 49ers racked up 2,305 yards on the ground and an NFL-best 23 touchdowns. Led by an outstanding offensive line, plus rising star RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco has 471 yards and six touchdowns on 89 rushing attempts during the playoffs.
While some teams invest very little in fullbacks, Kyle Juszczyk is an unheralded stud and is vital to the 49ers’ ground game and in pass protection. With the Niners’ ground game firing on all cylinders, QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been a human handoff machine during the postseason. After posting 3,978 pass yards (27 TD 13 INT) during 16 regular season games, Garoppolo is 17 of 27 on pass attempts for 208 yards (1 TD, 1 INT) during two playoff contests.
When teams crowd the line, trying to stop the run, TE George Kittle goes to work as he hauled in 1,053 receiving yards and five scores over 14 regular season games. Due for a breakout, Kittle has been quiet in the playoffs with just four catches for 35 yards and no scores. Acquired in a savvy Week 7 trade with Denver, two-time Pro Bowl WR Emmanuel Sanders bolstered the 49ers receiving crew that also includes fearless rookie Deebo Samuel plus Kendrick Bourne.
What to Expect When Kansas City Has The Ball
Operating a true West Coast offense, made popular by 49ers head coach Bill Walsh way back in 1979, Kansas City trots out a pass-first offense. The regular season numbers illustrate that as the Chiefs ran 576 pass plays and 375 run plays. Led by Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes, Kansas City posted 4,498 passing yards (30 TD) compared to just 1,569 rushing yards (16 TD) over 16 contests. Over two playoff games, Mahomes has 615 pass yards, eight TDs and zero INTs.
While the passing game receives most of headlines, San Francisco can’t ignore the Kansas City ground game that has been very effective recently. RB Damien Williams has been leading the way, as he posted 246 total yards and five TDs during the Chiefs’ final two regular season games. Williams has continued to shine in the postseason as he has gained 157 total yards and scored four touchdowns. Veteran LeSean McCoy and rookie Darwin Thompson are rarely in mix.
Loaded with talent, at tight end and wide receiver, Kansas City has a lethal quick strike offense. The Chiefs thrive on big plays, as they led the league with 34 receptions of at least 30 yards—plus 20 pass plays that netted at least 40 yards. TE Travis Kelce along with receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and rookie Mecole Hardman are threats to score every time they touch the ball. Hill, Watkins and Kelce have a combined 489 yards and six TDs in two playoff games.
Coaching Comparison: Andy Reid vs. Kyle Shanahan
Andy Reid is appearing in his second NFL Championship game as a head coach after leading Philadelphia to Super Bowl 34 against New England during the 2004 NFL season. The Eagles gave the high-octane Patriots a battle but lost 24-21 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to that, Reid was an offensive assistant when the Green Bay Packers posted a 35-21 victory against New England during Super Bowl 31. Reid is 14-14 overall in the playoffs.
After a slow start, during the first half of the season, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has the Chiefs playing at a higher level on defense. Kansas City has recorded 23 quarterback sacks and allowed just nine touchdowns over the last eight games on defense. The Chiefs finished the regular season eighth against the pass, allowing 221.4 yards per game, but were in the bottom seven after giving up 128.2 rushing yards per game. The run defense has been better recently.
Now in his third year in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan is making his first Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. After going 10-22 during his first two seasons, Shanahan has helped transform the 49ers into an NFL powerhouse. Shanahan is coaching in his second NFL Championship game. As a 100-1 Super Bowl prop bet illustrates, Kyle had a rough go as the Atlanta offensive coordinator during the Falcons’ 34-28 OT loss to New England in Super Bowl 52.
The 49ers defense has been a pillar of strength for San Francisco this season. Robert Saleh, who has 15 years of NFL coaching experience, is in his third season as the 49ers defensive coordinator. Players like rookie DL Nick Bosa and veteran CB Richard Sherman have helped the 49ers finish first in pass yards allowed (169.2) and second in total yards at 281.8 per game. A four-man rush has given Mahomes some trouble in the past and that’s the Niners’ base defense.
Reliable Placekickers Lead Chiefs and 49ers Special Teams
Often going unnoticed, until they miss a field goal or shank a punt, placekickers and punters rarely earn the respect they deserve. PK Harrison Butker is in his third year with Kansas City and he led the NFL with 34 field goals on 38 attempts this season. PK Robbie Gould, a 15-year NFL veteran, is in his third season with the 49ers. Gould, who missed three games due to injury, connected on 23 of 31 attempts during the regular season and is 5 for 5 so far in the playoffs.
Kansas City vs. San Francisco Final Thoughts and Pick
San Francisco and Kansas City both have a legitimate shot at winning Super Bowl LIV. Behind the PK odds when New England defeated Seattle in Super Bowl 49, the ATS price is the second smallest line in Super Bowl history. The spread matches the one-point lines on Miami vs. Washington in Super Bowl 7 and San Francisco vs. Cincinnati during Super Bowl 16. The Dolphins and 49ers were favorites and won by 7 and 5 points respectively in those title games.
Bettors are reminded that the New York Giants’ 20-19 Super Bowl 25 win over the Buffalo Bills is the only NFL Championship decided by one point. As such, with the juice at -110 on both ATS sides, there isn’t any value betting on the Chiefs (-120) moneyline. If you like San Francisco to win, gain some value by betting on the 49ers (+100) straight up. The point total being set at 54.5 is the fifth-largest ever and three of the four highest totals paid UNDER bettors.
Placing a winning wager on Super Bowl LIV requires handicappers to ultimately decide if the Chiefs’ high-flying offense can move the ball and score against the 49ers’ stout defense. The Chiefs’ overall team speed, plus the talent and confidence of Mahomes, suggests they certainly can. Expect the surging Kansas City defense to continue its strong play here as well. With everyone and their dog betting the total OVER, taking a shot with UNDER is an appealing wager.
Super Bowl LIV Spread Pick: Chiefs -1 (-110)
Playoff Record: 8-2
Season Record: 46-58-2
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