Super Bowl LVIII takes place this Sunday, February 11, at 6:30 PM ET from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. The game will air on CBS.
My preview and prediction are below, followed by the rest of our staff picks. Also, don’t forget to check out all the latest odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, which have the 49ers favored by 2 points over the Chiefs and the over/under at 47.5.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
No matter how much it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs were not quite themselves during the regular season (by their standards), they still ripped off three straight wins in the postseason, taking down the best of the best as Patrick Mahomes showed up in a major way. The thing that I took for granted is the Chiefs’ defense, though, which ranked 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed, first in sacks per pass attempt, and second in points allowed (only 17.3 per game).
I think of the 49ers’ defense as being better, but yet they ranked 8th in the NFL in yards allowed, 18th in sacks per pass attempt, and 3rd in points allowed (17.5 per game). Those are still fantastic numbers, but it’s more to point out how successful this Chiefs team has been at staying in games, which allows Mahomes’ heroics to pan out at some point.
On the flip side, it’s the 49ers’ offense (2nd in the NFL vs. 9th for the Chiefs) that ranks better, and they are great on the ground and through the air. Ultimately, what it boils down to is both teams are somewhat mirror images of each other: top-tier offense, top-tier defense, and two teams that deserve to be in the Super Bowl. A Super Bowl victory has escaped Kyle Shanahan a few times, but I like the 49ers’ running game to take command in this game for clock management, as both teams’ defenses step up as far as limiting points. I’ll predict a low-scoring game and go against my fellow staff members by taking the 49ers to win. 49ers 20, Chiefs 17.
Jared Mueller: “This is a battle between what is logical (the Niners are overall the better team) and what we know in our hearts to be true (the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes and that seemingly is all that matters). I’m also not as sold on San Fran given their struggles against the Browns and even in the playoffs.” Chiefs 24, Chiefs 21.
Thomas Moore: “This was the postseason where everything was supposed to fall apart for the Kansas City Chiefs. A road playoff game against the Buffalo Bills - the first for the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback - was too tall of a task. Well, how did that work out? The Chiefs were merely supposed to be content with being invited to the coronation of “MVP” Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Well, how did that work out?
The 49ers, meanwhile, had their hands full with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, pulling out wins thanks in large part to the Packers and Lions making mistakes. The one flaw with that strategy this Sunday is that Mahomes rarely makes a mistake in the postseason as he has only thrown two interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns in his last seven postseason games.
Finally, Super Bowl rematches rarely work out well for the team that lost the first time, no matter how many years apart the games are played. (Just ask the Cincinnati Bengals.)
Much like the New England Patriots with Tom Brady, it is hard to pick against the Chiefs as long as they have Mahomes at quarterback. Especially against a Kyle Shanahan-coached team that always seems to find a way to lose in the big spot.” Chiefs 31, 49ers 28.
Curtiss Brown: “Niners might have the better team but in the postseason it comes down to who has the better quarterback. I bet against Mahomes twice and it backfired so I’m not doing that again. The Niners might be better on paper but this team has flaws that can be exploited. If you can pressure Brock Purdy (like Cleveland and Baltimore did) put the ball in his hands, you have a shot of forcing some mistakes. Brock Purdy is good but he ain’t Mahomes. Low scoring affair with overtime potential. Give me the Chiefs in a close game.” Chiefs 24, 49ers 21.
Below is a summary of our Super Bowl 2024 staff picks: