The start of Super Bowl week has come and gone. Players and coaches of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs met for Super Bowl opening night on Monday, kicking off what should be a fun week in South Beach.
While the media frenzy surrounding the big game won't be subsiding, the Chiefs and 49ers will largely withdraw from the spotlight to focus on game preparations.
The rest of the football world will spend the next several days preparing to take it all in. Here, you'll find all the viewing information, the latest odds and over/unders from Caesars and a look at why the Chiefs are the early favorites.
Super Bowl LIV
When: Sunday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports Go
Odds, Over/Under: KC -1, 54.5
In case you haven't heard by now, Sunday's game will feature a serious clash of offensive styles. The 49ers will rely on Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and the running game to lead the charge, while Kansas City will put most of its eggs in the Patrick Mahomes basket.
At least, this is how things will go theoretically. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his 49ers counterpart, Kyle Shanahan, could make adjustments on the fly.
However, San Francisco is probably in the best position to ride the formula that has gotten it here. The 49ers have relied on the run and a smothering defense while occasionally asking quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to make a big play. This formula should work well against a Chiefs defense that ranked 26th against the run in 2019 (128.2 yards per game allowed).
The health of Tevin Coleman could be a factor, though. The running back, who rushed for 544 yards in the regular season, is recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Breida and Mostert are a capable backfield tandem—the latter is coming off a 220-yard game—but the 49ers can field a more varied rotation if Coleman is active on game day.
With Kansas City far better at defending the pass (ranked eighth) than the run, slowing the 49ers could be a struggle.
However, Kansas City did contain Derrick Henry and the Titans rushing attack in the AFC title game—and not just because they forced Tennessee into a catch-up situation. Yes, building a second-half lead put more responsibility on Ryan Tannehill, but the Chiefs defense began limiting Henry even before that.
"The Chiefs didn't sell out to stop the run. Instead, they relied on their defensive front to win at the line of scrimmage against a talented Titans offensive line and were largely successful doing so," The Athletic's Seth Keysor wrote.
Instead of stacking the box to stop Henry, Kansas City largely relied on its line to push back blockers and allow its linebackers to swarm. This is a strategy that could work against San Francisco. The 49ers regularly gashed the Green Bay Packers with outside runs in the NFC Championship Game because defenders couldn't get out of the box quickly enough.
While the Chiefs' defensive front is known more for its pass-rushing ability—it produced 45 sacks in the regular season—guys such as Chris Jones and Tanoh Kpassagnon are quite capable of containing an offensive line's initial push.
If the Chiefs can avoid bringing extra rushers, they'll have a better chance of containing perimeter runs and stopping big plays off of play-action.
While it might not seem like it at first blush, the Chiefs offense is also in a position to exploit the opposition. While the 49ers' strength is their pass rush and pass defense (first in the NFL), they are also a zone-based team when it comes to coverage.
Mahomes' ability to buy time in the pocket and deliver strikes to guys like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill could be problematic for San Francisco. The good news for the 49ers, though, is that the front four have often been able to bring the proverbial heat without bringing extra defenders.
NFL Research @NFLResearch
Per @NextGenStats 16 of Patrick Mahomes 17 INT since 2018 have come vs 4 or fewer pass rushers. Mahomes INT pct is 3.5 when those 4 rushers get pressure and 1.2 when they do not. The 49ers are getting pressure rushing 4 on 33.5 pct of dropbacks with Dee Ford on the field in 2019 https://t.co/yT8XdBsu69
Ultimately, this game is likely to become a bit of an offensive race. While both defenses are capable, these are two top-10 scoring offenses in relatively favorable situations.
The result could be determined by the quarterback who makes the most clutch plays or who delivers the final score. With this considered, it's not too surprising Kansas City is a slight favorite to start Super Bowl week.