The Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV this Sunday. Everything about this game points to a great matchup that could be in doubt until the final whistle — the kind of game that real football fans love to watch.
But several narratives about this season’s league championship are making the rounds in both Kansas City and San Francisco. Are any of them valid?
In an article published by NFL.com on Tuesday, writers Keegan Abdoo and Mike Band sought to find out, using standard and advanced statistics — and a point/counterpoint approach — to examine five common narratives about the game:
- The elite 49ers’ pass rush will overwhelm Patrick Mahomes
- Jimmy Garoppolo’s passing efficiency numbers suggest he’s a top-tier quarterback
- Nick Bosa is the most important 49ers defensive lineman
- Tyreek Hill is the most explosive offensive player in this game
- The 49ers will dominate in the running game
Here’s one of the narratives they broke down:
Abdoo: The 49ers’ running game is predicated on speed and power — no team features a faster trio of running backs by top speed (Matt Breida: 22.30 MPH; Raheem Mostert: 21.87 MPH; Tevin Coleman: 21.09), and no team runs more from I-formation (43 percent of runs). This is an area where the Chiefs’ defense has struggled, allowing an NFL-worst 6.4 yards per carry and 10-plus yards on 20 percent of runs when opponents line up in I-formation.
Band: The mismatch between the 49ers’ running game and the Chiefs’ run defense becomes less important if the Chiefs jump out to an early lead. Game script will play a role in determining whether the 49ers can take advantage of their opponent’s biggest weakness. If the 49ers do find themselves with a lead in the second half, expect them to lean heavily on Raheem Mostert and his lead blocker, Kyle Juszczyk, to control the time of possession and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
THE TRUTH: They CAN — but only if game circumstances play to their advantage.
It’s a fascinating read that’s well worth your time, so check it out.
Spoiler alert: you’re going to like (most of) what it has to say.