It took 256 regular season games, plus 10 playoff contests, but the NFL field has finally been carved down from 32 contenders to just two Super Bowl participants – the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Both franchises sport rich football histories which stretch back to well before the NFL / AFL merger in 1970, but Kansas City and San Francisco have enjoyed entirely different journeys to this year’s Super Bowl stage.
The Chiefs appeared in the very first Super Bowl ever – a loss to Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers – before winning their first and only title three seasons later.
The 49ers, meanwhile, hoisted the Lombardi Trophy five times between 1981 and 1994, as superstar quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young paved the way to today’s passing driven league.
Super Bowl 54 is set for Sunday, February 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, so sports betting enthusiasts have a little over one week left to study San Fran and K.C. To get you started on that account, check out the betting preview below to find out about the most intriguing storylines and statistical trends entering this all-important Super Sunday.
All point spread, moneyline odds, and Over / Under total information comes courtesy of online sportsbook Bovada.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. EST on FOX
With their players preparing for the ultimate “Big Game,” Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and his counterpart on the San Francisco sidelines Kyle Shanahan both have a chance at Super Bowl redemption.
While leading the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 39, Reid infamously refused to run his no-huddle offense down 10 points in the fourth quarter to the New England Patriots. Reid’s inexplicable time management fiasco – one of many to plague the NFL’s all-time winningest coach without a Super Bowl ring – allowed the Pats to escape with a 24-21 dynasty-minting victory.
Since arriving in Kansas City seven seasons ago, Reid has guided the Chiefs to the playoffs six times – each ending in disappointment until this year. That run includes a bitter overtime loss to the Patriots in the 2018 AFC Championship Game, one of five defeats in pro football’s penultimate game over the 61-year old Reid’s storied career.
In his third year with the Niners, Shanahan doesn’t have quite the head coaching history Reid has earned. Nonetheless, the 40-year old son of two-time Super Bowl champion Mike Shanahan knows the sting of falling short in the Super Bowl better than anybody.
As offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Shanahan’s play-calling acumen helped the 2016 Falcons build a 28-3 lead over the Patriots in Super Bowl 51. Unfortunately for Falcons fans, that third quarter lead evaporated as Shanahan’s pass-happy offense proved incapable of killing the clock in an eventual 34-28 overtime loss.
Sufficed to say, both coaches have Super Bowl demons to deal with – but only one can exorcise them completely this Sunday.
For the Chiefs, riding the arm of sensational quarterback Patrick Mahomes provides the best opportunity to win their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. Mahomes earned MVP honors in his first season under center last year, and while his statistical output was hampered slightly in 2019 due to various nagging injuries, he returned to form just in time for the playoffs.
Despite falling behind 24-0 to the Texans in the Divisional Round, and 10-0 last week against the Titans in the AFC Championship , the Chiefs stormed back behind brilliant QB play from Mahomes. All told, the second-year starter has thrown for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions during this run to the Super Bowl, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 615 yards along the way.
Mahomes might just boast the best arm on the planet, but it was his legs that produced the play of the playoffs to gut the Titans defense. That electrifying 27-yard touchdown scamper set the tone last Sunday, reminding opposition defenses that Mahomes remains a dual-threat on every snap.
The 49ers didn’t need any dual threats to dispatch the Packers in an NFC Championship romp, as the San Francisco ground game rumbled to an absurd 285 yards on 42 carries.
The majority of those were handled by running back Raheem Mostert, a castoff cut from six teams before landing by the Bay for his breakthrough moment. Mostert gashed the Packers defense to the tune of 220 yards on 29 attempts, including four touchdowns and several soul-crushing conversions on third and long.
Running the ball 40+ times might not be enough to put up the points necessary to keep pace with Mahomes, the sparkplug behind a Chiefs offense that has scored 86 points on 12 touchdown drives in just two playoff games. On the other hand, the 49ers defense has absolutely stifled two talented offenses to reach the Super Bowl by allowing only 30 points in the postseason.
Offense tends to overcome defense in the modern NFL, which might be why the oddsmakers have slotted Kansas City as slim (-1.5) favorites to win the Super Bowl. That equates to (-120) moneyline odds against an (EVEN) 49ers squad, and with an Over / Under total of 54.5, bettors can expect points aplenty two Sundays from now.