Bears Insider Super Bowl LIV picks:
San Francisco 49ers (15-3; 11-6-1 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-4; 12-5-1 ATS)
Hub Arkush, Executive Editor:
The minute the NFC title game ended, I asked myself who'd be the Super Bowl favorite, the Chiefs or the 49ers, and I really couldn't say. Sure enough the game opened a pick-em and now the public has bet the Chiefs up to a 1 or 1½-point favorite.The smart money always comes in very early or very late, and I expect the game to be bet down to a point or even a pick-em by kickoff.
There is so little to separate these two teams — the NFL's most dominating offense in Kansas City vs. the game's most dominating defense in San Francisco — it's a match made in Heaven.
But there are two small differences.
The first is that the 49ers offense is also extremely impressive while the Chiefs defense, although better of late, is still fairly average, and downright poor against the run, where the 49ers excel. I know K.C. slowed Derrick Henry last week, but the 49ers ground game is a whole 'nother animal.
The other difference is the Chiefs can wear you out going up and down the field while the 49ers will beat you up and beat you down on both sides of the ball with their extreme physicality.
No matter how worn down they are, in the heat of the biggest moment of their lives, players can always suck it up one more time. But once you're beat up and beaten down enough, you're done.
This is a legit heavyweight bout and the 49ers are definitely the bigger and better punchers, which is why they'll be the ones standing at the end. 49ers 30, Chiefs 27
Arthur Arkush, Managing Editor:
What more could we ask for than essentially a coin-flip game for the Super Bowl? That’s the way this one feels to me anyway.
Yes, Patrick Mahomes will be the best player on the field, but the best defender — Nick Bosa — will be chasing him, and I don’t think he and the Niners explosive defensive front allow the reigning MVP to freelance outside the pocket the way Tennessee did. That could limit Mahomes’ vertical shots and increase the YAC onus on the Chiefs playmakers and the burden to tackle well on the Niners defenders.
San Francisco’s run game against Kansas City’s run ‘D’ might be the biggest mismatch Sunday, but what happens if Kyle Shanahan finds his Niners in an early hole? He likely can forget the mashing exhibition his poetry-in-motion run game put on the Vikings and Packers; it’d be time to fully trust Jimmy G., which we’re not saying he doesn’t but we are saying we haven’t seen him do yet this postseason.
Andy Reid vs. Shanahan is a toss-up — perhaps the game’s top two offensive strategists, with impressive staffs behind them.
It’ll be the Super Bowl debuts for Garoppolo and Mahomes, both the personification of cool and unlikely to be overtaken by nerves.
The Chiefs hold an edge on special teams, albeit not as immense as that of the Niners’ rushing attack. Still, this could be where the game is decided.
I’ve now written 250 words to put off my decision, which boils down to this: If the Niners start extremely fast, they’ll win. But I’m still going with Mahomes. Chiefs 30, 49ers 23
HA: 2-0 / 2-0
AA: 2-0 / 1-1
POSTSEASON RESULTS (SU/ATS)
HA: 5-5 / 3-7
AA: 7-3 / 4-6