Yesterday was a crazy day in football.
After being down 10-0 in the first quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs came back to defeat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship — which resulted in the Chiefs progressing to the Super Bowl and the Titans getting kicked out of the race. Tennessee running back Derrick Henry only recorded 69 yards with one touchdown in the game, whereas he had averaged 196 yards and 1.3 touchdowns in the three games prior to their meeting against the Chiefs.
The NFC Championship was nothing short of lopsided dominance as well. In the game 49ers running back, Raheem Mostert, ran for 220 yards and had 4 touchdowns! On the flip-side, the Niners defense held the Packers’ running back Aaron Jones to only 56 yards and one touchdown. Between the quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdowns and two interceptions and Jimmy Garoppolo threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions. We quickly learned that San Francisco is the complete package — with guys that can make plays on both sides of the ball.
And it is because of the 49ers dominance on both offense and defense that I am predicting them to win 31-24 against the Chiefs.
Keys to the Game:
When comparing the two teams side-by-side, one might realize that the 49ers offense has more moving pieces than the Chiefs offense. Sure, Patrick Mahomes is a more athletic and skilled quarterback than Jimmy Garoppolo, but the amount of offensive weapons San Francisco has compared to Kansas City is mind-boggling.
Kansas City has two elite offensive weapons besides Mahomes; and that is wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Hill’s combined speed and good hands make passes to him almost a guaranteed catch — he is the fastest player in the NFL and has been clocked running at 23 miles per hour! Travis Kelce is practically a new Rob Gronkowski. Even when everyone knows that Patrick Mahomes is going to throw to him, he still finds a way to get the ball. A case could be made for Sammy Watkins as well, but I do not believe that he is at the same elite level as Hill or Kelce.
Unlike the Chiefs, Jimmy Garoppolo has a shocking amount of elite offensive options every time he has to make a play. Starting it out, George Kittle is similar to Kelce and is known by many as the most complete tight end in football. Running back Raheem Mostert showed that he can put on a show after running for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship. Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders was the Broncos’ best receiver until they traded him to San Francisco. His game is not limited to catching touchdowns and having long receptions, but he also is good at blocking for the run, and does so like an absolute beast! Kyle Juszcyk is regarded as the best fullback in football and can block, rush, and catch passes at an extremely competitive level. Marquise Goodwin, another receiver for San Francisco, has been clocked at 21.68 miles per hour — making him one of the fastest receivers in the National Football League.
On the defensive side of things, Chris Jones and the Kansas City defensive line were able to stop Derrick Henry and hold him to over 120 yards less than he has averaged before. Tyrann Mathieu also made some crucial defensive stops in the secondary.
However, if I was the Chiefs, I would be more afraid of the 49ers defense than San Francisco fearing their defense because of the incredible pass rush and secondary that are led by Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman.
The key to Kansas City’s offensive dominance against Tennessee was that Patrick Mahomes had all of the time in the world to make a play. Now that their team will be playing a serious defense that will be chasing after Mahomes, it will be hard for the Chiefs to establish themselves, offensively. Likewise, the 49ers were able to run all over the Green Bay Packers because their defensive line was not putting enough pressure on the offensive line. Chris Jones and the Chiefs will most-likely stop that and force San Francisco to throw the ball more.
All in all, this game will certainly be a fun one to watch, however I do think that the 49ers have the edge. Their biggest challenge will be the second half of football with Andy Reid. Similar to Bill Belichick, Reid often will completely change his offensive and defensive strategies at halftime to completely throw off his opponents. If Kansas City can prove that they can stop the run and continue Mahomes’ offensive dominance, they might be able to win. But they will need to do both of those. If Kansas City cannot successfully do either one, the 49ers are going to dominate them.