The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are set to meet in a prizefight of a championship game at Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
Like a heavyweight title bout, the two have differing styles that got them here. The clash of those methods and the resulting chess match will be a football fan's dream as we crown a champion after months of competition in the 2019 season.
The Chiefs come in with Patrick Mahomes piloting a high-flying offense, while the 49ers play the role of counterpoint with a dominant defense and run game to match.
The game is sure to follow the rhythmic back and forth of a great fight too. Punches will be landed, counter-punches will swing the momentum once again. It promises to be a memorable spectacle.
Who: San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
When: Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL
Mostert Goes for Less Than 100 Yards
There's a lot out there about Raheem Mostert's story. That's for good reason. His 200-yard performance in the NFC Championship Game was a thing of beauty, but that doesn't mean he'll be the story in the Super Bowl.
There are a few factors that say Mostert will likely be held under the century mark. For one, the 220-yard game against the Green Bay Packers was just the second time he's passed the benchmark all season. Despite leading the team in rushing nine times, he's only rushed for 100 yards one other time.
That was a 146-yard performance against the Baltimore Ravens. He followed it up with 69 yards on 10 carries in a shootout with the New Orleans Saints.
In short, we don't know what his volume will look like sharing carries with the rest of the weapons the Niners have.
Then there's Kansas City's offense to consider. The Niners could afford to only throw the ball eight times against the Packers, but they weren't being challenged by the anemic Green Bay offense.
In close games, the Chiefs like to play fast. They are fifth in pace when the score is within six points, according to Football Outsiders.
Their ability to score quickly could put more pressure on the Niners offense to respond, which could mean more passing and getting others involved in the run game.
Kelce Leads Game in Receiving
Travis Kelce took a backseat to Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill in the AFC Championship Game. He was held to just 30 yards on three catches while Watkins had 114 yards on seven catches and Hill had 62 on five with two touchdowns.
Whether that's because the Titans took away Kelce or Mahomes just preferred to throw to his open receivers, the Kansas City tight end should get his numbers against the Niners.
San Francisco's defense has been stellar, but tight ends have had success against them. The Packers trio of Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Jace Sternberger combined for eight catches, 86 yards and a touchdown.
They've also given up these notable games to tight ends they've seen this year:
- Tyler Higbee: 9 catches, 104 yards
- Jared Cook: 2 catches, 64 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Jacob Hollister: 8 catches 62 yards, 1 touchdown
- Mark Andrews: 3 catches, 50 yards 1 touchdown
Those aren't monster numbers, but it does show a trend of giving up big plays to tight ends. None of those guys are capable of what Kelce can do a team, though.
Don't expect Kelce to be quiet two games in a row. The last time he was held to 30 yards or less was in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He responded with an 11-catch, 134-yard performance in the divisional round against the Houston Texans.
Chiefs Ride Offense to Win
Looking at this game, you can't help but draw comparisons with the National Championship Game between Clemson and LSU. That game was billed as a colossal matchup of an elite offense in LSU against the stalwart defense of Clemson.
In that game, the offense of LSU won out, and this Super Bowl matchup could be more of the same.
It's not a perfect comparison, but when Mahomes is in playing with confidence and using all the weapons at his disposal, the Chiefs offense is nearly unstoppable.
The 49ers' defensive front and the pressure they can create is their best chance. If they can get to Mahomes and throw him off his rhythm, they can get an early lead and maybe hold on to it.
But the Texans couldn't do that despite a 24-point lead. The Titans couldn't do it with a 10-point lead. The 49ers are a better team than both, but holding on to a lead against this Chiefs offense is difficult.
If this turns into a shootout, it's hard to pick against the Chiefs.