Will’s Super Bowl Preview
It has all come down to this. The entire NFL season will conclude on Sunday with the annual Super bowl where we shall discover who is the best team of the 2019 season. It’s shaping up to be a good one with two of the best offensive coaches facing off against each other; an old master against a young upstart. Both head coaches have coached in super bowls before and both have had heartbreaking losses to the Patriots in said Super bowls. The last time Andy Reid was in the Super bowl his Philadelphia Eagles failed to make a comeback after being behind for much of the game. The Patriots recovered an onside kick to seal their third Super bowl of the Belichick era. Conversely Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons when they went up 28 to 3 over the patriots…and it might be too soon for Falcons fans to discuss what happened after that.
So, we have two teams poised to hoist the famed Lombardi trophy and its shaping up to be s fascinating game. Let’s take a look at both teams and what they both need to do to ensure victory.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have had an explosive offense, so explosive they potentially ended Bill O’Brian’s career (we can only hope). Scoring four touchdowns in the space of eight minutes in the divisional round was truly spectacular and had me on my feet laughing at how ridiculous and exciting it was in equal measure. The explosive offense was also on display during the conference championship round. However, one thing looms large over the Chiefs from both of their huge comebacks. In both games the main reason they were down by so many points was due to sloppy play. Mistakes plagued the Chiefs in the early part of both games and they simply cannot make those same mistakes against the 49ers. There was a number of key drops on 3rd down, which were not on Mahomes and he’d gotten the ball into his receivers’ hands. Fumbles and a blocked punt were among the mistakes that led to the Titans going 24 points up.
The 49ers will punish mistakes like this. Their ability to manufacture offense using scheme is pretty much unprecedented throughout the league. They were able to control the clock to an incredible degree against Green Bay, running the ball very successfully. The Chiefs did a good job of containing Derek Henry against the Titans, however they had to do a lot to do so. Playing goal line defense and stacking the box against the run. They will have to do something very similar against the 49ers, take away the running game to force the ball in Jimmy Garoppolo’s hands. Garoppolo is not a bad quarterback, but if you are going to make a team one dimension then it makes sense to take away the thing they do better and the 49ers have a fantastic run game.
Another thing the Chiefs are going to have to do is negate the ferocious 49ers pass rush. They will have to move the pocket and make quick snap throws to slow down the rushers. Again, if the Chiefs get into the hole then they are going to have a hard time as the 49ers pass rush can pin their ears back and rush to their hearts content. Fortunately for the Chiefs they have Patrick Mahomes. Not only is Mahomes dangerous throwing the ball but he’s dangerous with his feet as well. His ability to make throws on the run is seriously dangerous and we’ve seen him score a wonderful Lamaar Jackson-esq touchdown against the Titans. The Chiefs are going to have to lean on Mahomes and his ability heavily to beat this vaunted 49ers defence.
San Francisco 49ers
It should come as no surprise that one of the keys to San Francisco’s victory will be stopping Patrick Mahomes. Not only do they need to defend his passing ability but keeping him pinned inside the pocket is absolutely key. The 49ers haven’t had too many slip ups this season, but every time they have either lost or won a close game it was a team with a mobile quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, his ability to create space, change the launch point of the pass and generally make defenders wrong on every snap is something to behold. It’s like watching vintage Aaron Rodgers. Keeping Mahomes in the pocket is going to be key as it will give the rest of the defence a better chance to defend his passes as they won’t have to deal with the threat of him running.
On offense the 49ers pretty much have to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year. They have shown multiple times this year an amazing ability to engineer a running game through scheme. Raheem Mostet is hardly the greatest running back since sliced bread, yet against a very good Packers defence he ran for 220 yards and 4 TDs. Kyle Shanahan looked at the Green bay defence and ran right at its supposed strength. Although the Green Bay defence did a poor job of adjusting their game plan as Mostet continually ran against seven men boxes, being able to manufacture this run game will help Jimmy Garopolo in the passing game. The Chiefs have a very ‘traditional’ pass rush. What I mean by that is they have good edge rushers who like to pin their ears back and come round the corner to get to the quarterback. The super effective zone running game should slow those rushers down and if the chiefs sell out to stop the run, Garopolo will have plenty of time to execute the play action pass offense he has been so effective with all season.
Finally, the 49ers should keep feeding the best tight end in the league. This superbowl is going to feature the best two tight ends in the NFL on opposing sidelines, however Kittle is better because he’s a superb blocker as well as a superb pass catcher. Kittle has had a quiet post season as a pass catcher as the 49ers have managed to succeed without him. However, against the Chiefs he’s going to present a real matchup problem. The Chiefs linebacking corps is the weakest part of their defence and none of them have the speed or athleticism to keep up with Mr.Kittle. I suspect both he and mr Juszczyk are going to get a lot of short passes from the back of play action. This should then setup some nice chunk plays later in the game.
Its really difficult to pick a winner in this game. The whole thing exists on a knife edge with either team ready to pounce on mistakes from their opposition. Personally, I’m really looking forward to two explosive offenses facing off against each other. I’m looking forward to Patrick Mahomes heroics, Kyle Shanahan’s play design and how Andy Reid will cope with the niners defence. One thing is certain…I’m glad I’m not Simon, his nerves are going to be shot.
Like the article? Hit Will up on twitter (@WClaringbold) or the gents (@gridirongents). Don’t forget to listen to this week’s pod where we discuss the new Head Coaching hires and the Divisional Round of the Playoffs.