49ers vs. Chiefs: Opening Odds and Predictions for Super Bowl 54

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2020

El quarterback de los Chiefs de Kansas Patrick Mahomes corre con el balón en el duelo por el campeonato de la AFC ante los Titans de Tennessee el domingo 19 de enero del 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

One of the most frequent participants in the Super Bowl will take on a franchise that just ended its 50-year championship game drought in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium.

The San Francisco 49ers, who won both of their playoff games by double digits, are making their seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history and their first since February 2013.

Head coach Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs ended the Cinderella run of the Tennessee Titans and will play in their first title clash since the 1969 campaign.

For the second straight game, the AFC's title game representative will have to slow down a dominant rushing attack.

Despite the tough defensive assignment ahead of them, the Chiefs opened as the Super Bowl favorites.

             

Super Bowl LIV Odds

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Predictions

Kansas City (-1.5) and Under 52.5

Two factors could give Kansas City a slight edge in a matchup that oddsmakers viewed as fairly even.

In the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs held a run-first offense to 85 rushing yards, with Derrick Henry managing 69 yards and 3.6 yards per carry after running for 377 yards on 64 attempts in his previous two playoff games.

The 49ers may go with a different rushing scheme than the Titans, but the Chiefs could apply some principles from Sunday's success as part of their Super Bowl game plan.

San Francisco is now relying on Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert to shoulder the majority of the ground load, and one of the main reasons they are thriving is because of head coach Kyle Shanahan's game-planning. But the AFC champions have some background with San Francisco's offense from a Week 3 win in 2018, when Matt Breida and Alfred Morris combined for 157 of their team's 178 rushing yards.

Of course, San Francisco has had success versus the pass in the NFC playoffs and has previous experience with Patrick Mahomes.

A year ago, the Chiefs quarterback racked up 314 passing yards and three touchdowns against the NFC West side, with Travis Kelce the main beneficiary with eight receptions for 114 yards.

In his two playoff contests this season, Mahomes produced identical 23-of-35 lines with 615 passing yards and eight touchdowns. However, his impact could be controlled if Nick Bosa leads the San Francisco pass rush to some success in the backfield.

Bosa and Co. gave up 296 passing yards to the Packers, but the majority of that total occurred in a failed comeback attempt in the second half. The Niners also held Kirk Cousins to 172 passing yards in the divisional round.

If San Francisco contains Mahomes on a few drives and the running game takes up time, that could lead to the under hitting. The 49ers ran the ball on 42 occasions in the NFC Championship Game, and they controlled the clock against the Vikings with 47 carries and a 38:27 time of possession.

While the NFC champions could keep the game close and hold the score under 52.5 points, Kansas City could break through late with its abundance of weapons.

Mahomes targeted eight players in the win over the Titans and has a variety of options to work with between the speed of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the physicality of Kelce and Sammy Watkins' ability to break free.

If the Chiefs can move around their wide receivers and tight ends from Richard Sherman's side of the field, they could negate the defensive back's impact in some cases.

The margin of victory will likely be thin because of San Francisco's pace of play, but the Chiefs' offensive firepower should be enough to make the difference and hand Reid his first title and the franchise its first championship since 1969.

                              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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