Can Andy Reid finally bag his first Super Bowl ring? (Wikipedia)
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Miami will host the Superbowl, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, two of the youngest and most polarizing teams in the history of football. Head Coach Andy Reid (who comes full circle with this battle against San Francisco, see video below) and the Chiefs proved capable of stopping heavy locomotive Derrick Henry, by smashing the Titans in the AFC championships.
QB Patrick Mahomes is playing perfect postseason football, protecting the ball and maximizing scoring opportunities. Casually throwing 46-625-6 in two games, the young QB faces his most daunting matchup yet. The 49ers D is downright oppressive, stifling passers to 278.6 yards per game and an 84.1 passer rating. Facing a relentless aerial defense allowing just 5.3 yards per attempt in the air, Mahomes will need to employ his legs in order to convert third downs.
Damien Williams slopped up 29-92-2 on his way to the Superbowl and there’s very little hope against a stouter run defense. The saving grace is that 49ers have grown leaky to runs over 10 yards, allowing 104.7 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry to opposing runners. Reid has always game planned well for RBs and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Williams manages to hit feast over famine simply because of the Mahomes’ effect.
Mahomes’ postseason target distribution: Travis Kelce (14); Sammy Watkins (12); Tyreek Hill (10); Williams (eight); Mecole Hardman (three); Demarcus Robinson (three); Blake Bell (two); Deon Yelder (one); Darwin Thompson (one); and Anthony Sherman (one).
Watkins had a rare day, going for 7-114-1 in the AFC Championship game. Primarily a slot/blocking hybrid, Watkins will face off against mediocre slot CB K’Waun Williams. Williams is allowing 2.5 receptions per games for 6.0 yards per target and 103.3 passer rating in coverage. While his numbers are not awful, receivers have routinely gained an average of 1.75 yards of separation against Williams. In a nutshell, he is a safe CB to throw against and Lizard King will fare well in Miami.
In past years, premium defenses have stuck their CB1 on Kelce as a solution for the rest of the field. Loud mouth CB Richard Sherman will carry that distinction on Superbowl Sunday. Kelce is 6’5″ and 260 pounds, and runs a 4.66s 40-yard dash. Sherman is 6’3″ and 195 pounds and runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. Size is at a premium for the Chiefs and it will show in the red zone. For the most part, expect Sherman to blanket Kelce save for a few dink and dunks.
The most electrifying matchup features lady-beater Hill and speedy CB2 Ahkello Witherspoon. Charged with allowing 3.9 receptions on 6.6 yards per target and four touchdowns, Witherspoon is the opposite of Williams wherein his stats weigh down his actual contributions. Dragged by the charged touchdowns, Witherspoon is allowing a passer rating of 105.9, despite a +23.4 coverage rating versus Williams’ 8.2. Witherspoon is 6’3″ and 198 pounds and clocks a 4.45s 40-yard dash vs. Hill’s 4.34s. Speed will be at a premium, as always.
Expect Head Coach Kyle Shanahan to deploy more Tampa 2 in order pressure the sidelines with his safeties and spy the middle of the field with his hot linebacker, likely Fred Warner. However, there is a chance Kwon Alexander can make it back for the Superbowl.
Jimmy Garoppolo will need to throw more than 27 passes (his postseason total) on Sunday if he wants his third ring. Sacked three times on his way to the Superbowl, the young QB needs to do a better job reading pressures if he wants to survive Reid’s onslaught. Throwing for 17-209-1 and one interception, Jimmy G is exactly what we think he is: a safer and stronger-armed Alex Smith. If there is one thing the KC pass defense excels at, it would be rushing the passer.
Allowing a middling 227.8 yards per game, but a top notched 83.5 pass rating and 6.2 yards per attempt to opposing QBs, the KC defense is the epitome of bend-don’t-break. Moreover, the 49ers’ O-line is allowing a sack on 6.9 per cent of their snaps (15th in the league), while Kansas City is forcing a sack on every 7.6 per cent (10th in the league). Watch for vintage Reid blitzes in this game.
Shanahan will work his magic with Tevin Coleman (questionable), Matt Breida and, more recently, Raheem Mostert. Assuming he’s healthy, expect Coleman to carry the main workload as the heavy runner and Mostert as the speed runner in a 2:1 split.
Garoppolo’s postseason target distribution: Deebo Samuel (nine); Kendrick Bourne (six); George Kittle (six); Emmanuel Sanders (three); Mostert (two); and Breida (one).
As mentioned, Kansas City will play its well-established bend-don’t-break defense by leveraging its fearsome pass rush into turnovers, especially in the red zone. Much like last week, KC will stack the box and allow CB Charvarius Ward to shadow the X receiver while CB Bashaud Breeland and slot CB Kendall Fuller man the Y and Z receiver, respectively (namely, Bourne and Sanders). San Francisco’s wide receivers receive a bump in usage as the 49ers will need to advance through the air.
FS Tyrann Mathieu will cover the peoples TE (Kittle), almost in a permanent capacity. Kittle weighs in at 6’4″ and 247 pounds, while running a 4.52s 40-yard dash. Mathieu is 5’9″ and 186 pounds, running a 4.50s 40-yard dash. Kittle’s size is a premium in the red zone, much like Kelce.
Game odds: O/U: 54; SF -1; (SF 28 KC 27)
RotoRob Tune of the Day
From the late-’70s through to the late-’80s, Azymuth had several releases on Milestone Records, the jazz label that also featured on its roster Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner. In 1980, Azymuth released Outubro; here’s the dreamy title track.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments how you think the Superbowl will go, and which players will shine from a Fantasy standpoint.