After two weeks of preparation, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will go into Hard Rock Stadium without a player in doubt of suiting up for Super Bowl LIV. Both teams will have all hands on deck in pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.
Running back Tevin Coleman dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers turned to Raheem Mostert to carry the load, and he made a name for himself, recording 29 carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns.
Chiefs interior tackle Chris Jones has battled a calf injury, missing the divisional-round matchup with the Houston Texans and playing only 42 percent of defensive snaps against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. He expects to take on a bigger role Sunday, per NFL Network's James Palmer.
While discussions about this matchup will focus on the classic battle between an electric offense and stout defense, both teams rank top 10 in scoring and points allowed. We are going to see a close battle between evenly matched teams—most definitely the cream of the NFL's crop.
Now that it's gameday, final predictions go down in ink. Let's make individual player predictions, a Super Bowl MVP projection and the last call on the winner of Super Bowl LIV. First, check out the viewing and betting information for Sunday's game.
Super Bowl LIV: San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
When: Sunday, Feb. 2
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
National TV: Fox
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Line: KC -1.5
Box Score Predictions
QB: Patrick Mahomes, KC: 342 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 39 rushing yards, 1 TD
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF: 247 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INTs
RB: Damien Williams, KC: 47 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards, 1 TD
RB: Darwin Thompson, KC: 26 rushing yards, 36 receiving yards
RB: Raheem Mostert, SF: 102 rushing yards, 1 TDs
RB: Tevin Coleman, SF: 33 rushing yards
WR: Tyreek Hill, KC: 7 receptions, 96 receiving yards, 1 TD
WR: Mecole Hardman, KC: 6 receptions, 81 receiving yards, 1 TD
WR: Sammy Watkins, KC: 4 receptions, 47 receiving yards
WR: Emmanuel Sanders, SF: 6 receptions, 77 yards, 1 TD
WR: Deebo Samuel, SF: 6 receptions, 59 yards
TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 8 catches, 95 yards
TE: George Kittle, SF: 5 catches, 61 yards, TD
Better Game: Travis Kelce or George Kittle?
In some ways, George Kittle and Travis Kelce mirror each other. Both challenge linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field. They also play with a similar passion for the game.
Kittle remembers watching Kelce in college and taking note of his temperament on the field, per ESPN's Adam Teicher:
"Just watching that in college I was like, 'You know what? You don't have to be just a hard-nosed guy on the football field all the time.' You can be whatever personality you want to be and being able to see that kind of opened the door for me and my personality and how much fun I have on the field."
Once the whistle blows, Kittle separates himself from Kelce in one particular area. In Teicher's report, his ESPN colleague Louis Riddick highlights that aspect.
"I would probably slightly give the nod to George just because of how dominant he can be in the run game as far as the blocking is concerned," Riddick said. "He's maybe slightly faster than Kelce."
In the box score, Kelce may have more catches and receiving yards, but Kittle's ability to drive defenders backward should open up lanes for the ground attack. His sound blocking won't show up on the stat sheet, but we should factor that into the 49ers' rushing yards total.
Kittle will have a more complete performance with bone-jarring blocks and a touchdown grab.
Super Bowl MVP Prediction: QB Patrick Mahomes
For better or worse, the Chiefs are heavily reliant on Patrick Mahomes creating in and out of the pocket. Dating back to his first start in the 2017 season finale, he's shown great arm talent. At times, the two-time Pro Bowler delivers accurate throws off balance and on the move.
With that said, don't overlook Mahomes as a ball-carrier. He's accounted for 106 of the Chiefs' 230 rushing yards through their first two playoff games this year, logging 53 yards in each of those contests.
If the 49ers flush Mahomes out of the pocket and keep his pass-catchers covered downfield, we could see another 50-plus-yard rushing performance from the All-Pro signal-caller.
Furthermore, against teams ranked within the top 10 in scoring defense, Mahomes has thrown nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He's yet to face the 49ers, but high-level competition doesn't intimidate him. In fact, the 24-year-old raises his game against tougher opponents.
The 49ers had a scoring shootout with the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 and came out on top 48-46. Nonetheless, Mahomes has more offensive playmakers around him than Drew Brees.
With Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Kelce all active, the Chiefs passing game will have some highlight moments Sunday. As the distributor, Mahomes claims Super Bowl MVP honors.
Projected Final Score: Chiefs 34, 49ers 30
Leading up to kickoff, we will hear about the Chiefs offense vs. the 49ers defense. Don't discount what players on the other side of the ball for both teams have done in the past two games.
The Chiefs' much-maligned run defense held its past two opponents to fewer than 95 rushing yards. The unit limited running back Derrick Henry to 69 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the AFC Championship Game. The 49ers' ball-carriers won't have a cakewalk to 100-plus yards and multiple scores.
San Francisco's offense isn't flashy but ranks second in scoring. Head coach Kyle Shanahan doesn't need quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball 30-35 times, but the 49ers will use that volume on the ground. San Francisco's zone run scheme can cut through defenses and lead to plenty of points in a short period.
In a close contest, it's easier to trust Mahomes over Garoppolo. The 49ers' ground attack has been able to do all the heavy lifting on offense, but the passing game will likely have to match scoring drives with the Chiefs at some point.
In Week 14, Garoppolo had a duel with Brees. Since then, he's thrown for three touchdowns and three interceptions through five contests. On the other hand, Mahomes is tuned up and ready to lead his squad to victory Sunday.