SUPER BOWL FULL PREVIEW: NINERS vs. CHIEFS (2-2-20)

 

VEGAS BETTING LINE: KC CHIEFS (-1 or -1 1/2) vs. SF NINERS  ~  TOTAL: (54 or 54 1/2)

 

S.FRAN FACED IN PLAYOFFS:  GB #18 OFF/#18 GB DEF   ~  MINNY #16 OFF/#14 DEF

K.C. FACED IN PLAYOFFS: HOUSTON #13 OFF/#28 DEF   ~  TENNY #12 OFF/#21 DEF

 

S. FRAN OFFENSE: #4  (144 RUSH, 237 PASS)  ~  DEFENSE: #2  (113 RUSH, 169 PASS allowed)

K.C. OFFENSE:   #6 (98 RUSH, 281 PASS)  ~  DEFENSE: #17 (128 RUSH, 221 PASS allowed)

OK folks the Big game is just about here and really the two best teams made it. The biggest winner of this elite match up is the Sports books across the country. You have the Classic “Run” vs. “Pass” match up in what will come down to the best chess match played all year long not actually played on a actual chess board. You have “Old” vs. “Young” with the two Head Coaches. You have a zillion extra ways to bet this game with the PROPS posted for every player and so no longer is this game just fun for betting a Side or Total, it’s a game to enjoy the entire 60 minutes (heck this is a match up with Overtime written all over it). 

As you can see above neither team was forced to beat an opponent in this years Playoffs with a Top 10 Offense or Defense. Now we get to see a team with a Top 4 Offense and Defense and a team with a Top 6 Offense. The easy road for both is now over. It’s time to show you can do it vs. a really good opposing team. SF ran ball 71% of time in Playoffs while KC has passed it 73% of the time.

It’s been over a month now since the Niners beat Seattle to lock up the #1 seed and basically 2 Home Playoff games. This Niners team go the #1 literally by “1 INCH”. You almost can’t even make that up. If Seattle gets another inch and half on their final play vs. Niners, the Niners drop to the #5 seed, and forced to win 3 Road Playoff games. What a huge difference that one inch made for SF as they were able to really take advantage of their Home Field vs. the Vikings and Packers. The Chiefs caught a nice break when the #1 Ravens lost and handed home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs over to them. That advantage really paid off as the Chiefs were forced to make a big comeback to win over the Titans in the Title game. Now both teams are forced to “Head East young man” as this game is played in Miami, with the Niners forced to go 3,118 miles from their home city. KC will travel half that distance going 1,464 miles. 

Two weeks ago the KC Defense held the hottest player on the planet, Titans RB D. Henry to just 69 yards rushing on 19 carries. His longest run was 13 yards. Now they are faced with an even bigger task, stopping a Niners 3-headed RB monster that is just rolling in these Playoffs. How great has the Run been for the Niners in the Playoffs? Try 71 runs in their 88 total Plays on Offense. Now you have a situation where SF is going against the 3rd worst Run Defense of KC in a match up they should be able to succeed nicely in this Super Bowl. Remember they scored 51 points vs. Carolina #32 Run D, 41 points vs. #28 Bengals Run D and 31 points vs. #30 Browns Run Defense. Now what is it that makes SF “Run game” so damn good? It’s the “motion” they use and folks they use it the most of any NFL Offense. If you are a KC fan/backer here, that isn’t good news. Why? Well KC’s Run Defense finished dead last vs. “Motion” run Offensive plays. In these Playoffs the Niners have run the “motion” run game 40% of the time. If it aint broke, don’t try to fix it. The reason this motion run game works so well is the Niners have two elite blockers that are not part of their 5 man Offensive Line, TE G. Kittle and Fullback K. Juszczyk are two fantastic blockers, almost like having a 7 man Offensive Line. They run the ball on first down 2nd most in the NFL (62%). You know it’s coming and they don’t even care. They use the motions in so many ways you never really get a perfect read and so they break a ton of big run plays through out the game. They also will kill you with screens if you overload the Line of scrimmage to take advantage to stopping the Run. They average 6.8 yards per play on first down (#1 in NFL).  KC Defense allows (1.84) yards after first contact (4th worst in NFL) so expect the Niners to just get ball out fast from QB Jimmy Garappolo’s hands and let their speedy guys and their bulldozing TE Kittle catch passes and force the Chiefs Defense to make tackles without allowing too many big plays after the catch is made.

The KC Chiefs are a team fully built by two things: QB Pat Mahomes and a speedy set of wide outs that includes a big Tight End. In my early days of my 30+ year career covering Football, on the radio I often used the phrase “SPEED KILLS” (at the time it was due to Miami Hurricanes Football). There is no real way to stop “SUPER SPEED” like the Chiefs possess. So you just try to slow it down and stop the biggest plays, deep passes for TD’s where the KC Offense barely has to work to put points on the board. We just told you the top first down yardage team in regular season was SF. In the Playoffs it’s the Chiefs (8.3) yards per play on first down. I often call Seattle QB Russ Wilson “Houdini” as he escapes Pass Rush better than maybe anyone since Fran Tarkenton. But the Chiefs QB Mahomes is just deadly on scramble plays and of late with healthy legs he’s running the ball often for first downs and even some gigantic rushes. The Niners goal is to keep Mahomes in the pocket here. It’s unlikely they are fearing the Run game (leading Chiefs rusher D. Williams averaged just (3.4) yards per rush if you take away a big 91 rush TD. This game looks so hard to most, but sometimes it’s just: “your best vs. our best” and the better there is the winner. For KC sake it may simply come down to one thing. Mahomes is the #1 QB in the NFL vs. Zone Defensive coverage. The Niners Defense plays second most “zone D” in the NFL. Mahomes averages (9.7) yards per catch vs. Zone Defenses and (7.3) yards per catch vs. Man Defenses. We know KC and Mahomes love to pass the ball and will go deep as often as he has good time to pass it. SF on Defense is pretty solid, but they are weak at allowing yards after deep passes completed against them. In fact they allow a really poor (10.4) yards per catch on any deep pass they’ve allowed this season. And they have never faced an opposing Offense loaded with this type of Killer Speed the Chiefs have. 

I read from a long time Vegas sports bettor I’ve known 30 years where he predicted that person most likely to make a “BIG MISTAKE” here being KC QB Mahomes. I almost fell off my chair reading it. It was maybe one of the dumbest takes I’d ever heard in a prediction of a game. Why was it so dumb? Well to say you somehow (insanely) feel the mistake would come via Mahomes and not Jimmy G. is completely idiotic. Mahomes now in 3 Playoff games has 0 Interceptions (an amazing 142 pass attempts) and in 484 passes attempted this year he was intercepted just 5x. The Niners QB Jimmy G threw only 27 passes this Playoffs season (his first 2 Playoff games ever) and threw 1 interception. It was a horrific bad read and worst of all came just before HT vs. the Vikings allowing them to steal 3 points before HT. Also in the Regular Season Garappolo passed it 8 times less than Mahomes did and he got picked off 13 times. Many will use the old line “if the run game is working great keep on running it”. Yes it makes sense in one thought but to me it’s also the second thought that should have you scared shitless to bet SF here as the Niners HC Kyle Shanahan was clearly “scared shit” to have Jimmy G pass the ball much more after that horrific Interception just before Halftime vs. Minnesota. Now it may come down to Mahomes does make the bigger mistake, but due to only one reason and that’s Jimmy G may not come close to the chances Mahomes will take. My biggest fear for backing this loaded SF team is the Niners had a week off prior to their two Playoff games. Now another week off before this Super Bowl game. So in the past month Niners QB Garoppolo has passed the ball a whopping 27 times. We’ve seen Jimmy G be careless with ball when being pressured hard and to see he also was sacked 3x on only 27 pass attempts, well to me the guy most likely to make a big mistake in this game is by far going to be Jimmy G.

BOTH TEAMS HAVE A TIGHT END WITH 1,000+ YARDS THIS SEASON

It’s not shocking we normally see one of the two Super Bowl teams with either the best or near best Tight End. This year we basically see the two best Tight Ends and both could really help decide the fate of this years Winning team. KC Travis Kelce and SF’s George Kittle are by far the two best in the NFL and although Kittle hasn’t done much in the Playoffs (due to Niners just rushing ball so much), these two could both really have a big game. Kelce is the security blanket for Mahomes but he will face his toughest Defensive task in the Super Bowl as the Niners D is #1 vs. Opposing Tight Ends allowing only 33.5 yards per game and allowing only 4 opposing TE’s all season to gain over 50 yards from that position. Kelce will surely test those numbers as he has 21 catches this season over 15 yards. 

WATCH OUT FOR STATS FOR ENTIRE SEASON AS THEY WILL LIE BADLY DUE TO KEY INJURIES DURING THIS REGULAR SEASON

We often use Stats to kinda gauge how a game may play out but this year you have to be really careful. Mahomes missed 2 1/2 games. The Niners missed 3 key cogs on Defense for a good stretch. The Niners also played without it’s tandem of TE Kittle and FB Juszczyk. When all the key cogs have been healthy and on field, the number change drastically. In fact with Kittle and Big J on field together since Week 12, the team is averaging (5.69) yards per carry. 

CAN NINERS RB MOSTERT DO IT AGAIN?

We often get guys in the Playoffs and Super Bowl that come out of nowhere and have a huge game and at times the best of their careers. I remember Redskins RB Timmy Smith having the game of his life in the Super Bowl. Could Mostert duplicate, heck half duplicate, his NFC Title game performance of 220 rush yards after a season he rushed for 772 yards? He rushed for over 100 yards only once in the regular season and he rushed the ball over 14x only once in the regular season. But wow in the Playoffs he ran the ball like he was shot out of a cannon. The bigger factor if he can run the ball really well won’t be his actual rush stats, but the time he helps take off the clock and not allow Mahomes and his speedy cast to be on the field. 

SOME MAJOR KEYS TO THIS SUPER BOWL GAME

1). Can the Chiefs give Mahomes enough time to pass the ball? When he has just 2 seconds of protection, he is #7 in Passer Rating and QBR.

2). Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line match up: The Niners basically win 4 of these 5 matchups, with the Chiefs winning only the M. Schwartz vs. Dee Ford one. 

3). Can KC Defense slow down the Niners screen passes with it’s two LB’s A. Hitchens and D. Wilson? KC can not come close as this is huge edge to SF Offense.

4). If SF Defensive Front Pressure can’t get to Mahomes what is outcome?  Mahomes will pass it for 350+ yards if it’s OL (that has been spectacular in these Playoffs) can hold up a third game this Playoff season.

5). Who will Mahomes look to exploit in the SF Secondary? It’s simple. They will look to exploit E. Moseley when SF is in Cover 3 Defense. SF has a tough call to make when they go Cover 3 and it’s do they used R. Sherman vs. TE Kelce leaving Moseley (5-11, 190) to cover one of the Chiefs speedster wide outs or do they use him to cover Kelce (6-5. 260) instead. This is where Chiefs HC Andy Reid must be at his very best play calling and where the Niners DC Saleh will sadly lose often during this game regardless of what/who he decides in that situation.

6). Can KC Defense come up big a second straight game vs. a Tough Run Opponent? The Chiefs D is night and day different from the last 6 weeks and Playoffs than it was earlier in the season. They lost one of their key Defensive play makers when they lost Safety J. Thornhill. They did completely shut down the Titans Henry but we can’t forget they were 4th worst in the regular season allowing a horrific (1.82) yards after first contact vs. opposing RB’s. 

7). EXPECT SF DEFENSE to put 2 Safeties back often: Look the Niners aren’t stupid. They know the speed KC possesses and the big plays they make for long TD’s. They also know they are very strong rushing the passer. They have the edge at 4 spots on KC’s OL and so you fully expect they decide to force KC Offense to longer drives, in hopes of just one Sack to potentially kill a drive. 

8). MISMATCH CITY TO WATCH CLOSELY: I feel bad for one KC player in this Super Bowl and it’s Guard . Wisniewski as he faces off mostly against Niners DT D. Buckner. Buckner is a beast and has 19.5 sacks and 34 knockdowns the past 2 seasons. Poor Wisniewski is not really even a Starter, but he’s forced into duty and will be in need of help during this game to keep the Niners fierce Pass Rush from getting in the face of Mahomes. I mentioned earlier the KC Off Line has played great in the Playoffs but that was facing the #25 Texans and #18 Titans Defensive Pressure Rates. Now they face #7 SF, whose number is flawed as they played without Dee Ford and K. Alexander for a big stretch. But the Niners have everyone back and healthy for this Super Bowl game. One other note to add is we all know DE Nick Bosa is a beast pass rusher. But add this huge factor: when Ford is in game with him, he’s gotten 75% of his Sacks this season. 

9). SF DEE FORD:  The stats with him on the field and not on field are incredibly different. The Niners Defensive Sack rate goes up from just 5.4% their total Sacks to 15.2% of them when he’s on field. Interceptions go up from just 1.9% of plays to 4.2% of plays. Pressure rates go up 7%. And most of all QBR by it’s Opposing QB’s goes from 48.6 without him to 11.3 with him. He is a major game changer and the Chiefs will be forced to slow him down or get Mahomes killed. 

10). KC CHIEFS TE TRAVIS KELCE: He’s the security blanket for Mahomes and almost always get the 3rd down pass when KC is 2-7 yards from a first down. With the Safeties back and not allowing deep balls, he is likely to have a 7 catch or more type game. 

11). NINERS WR DEEBO SAMUEL: He has destroyed teams when he runs the ball with 17 carries for 171 rushing yards and 2 Rushing TD’s. But he will face an under rated KC Defense in that Department that has not allowed a wide out to rush ball for over 16 yards. 

4 PLAYOFF GAMES THIS YEAR WITH EITHER NINERS OR CHIEFS ON FIELD

The average points scored this Postseason when one of these two teams has been a participant has been 59 points. (Total here: 54).

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE BATTLE

It takes all of one second to see the Niners win both sides of the Line of Scrimmage.

RED ZONE MORE GOLD ZONE FOR THESE TWO TEAMS?

The Chiefs have scored 9 TD’s and 1 FG in the Red Zone this Playoffs and the Niners a not too shabby 8 red zone scores ( TD’s and 3 FG’s). Also in these Playoffs the Chiefs have scored on 60% of it’s drives (half their reg. season number). Seven of the 20 Postseason drives for the Niners have ended in Touchdowns. 

UNDERDOGS HAVE COVERED 2 OF 3 IN PAST 18 SUPER BOWLS

Last year the Patriots won as a small favorite, but it’s been the “DOGGIES” (Underdog) that have made the bettors money in 12 of the past 18 Super Bowls. The straight up winner has covered the last 10 Super Bowls for betting SIDES bets. This one the line is basically Pick’em so really unless KC wins by 1 laying (-1 1/2) that won’t come into play again here.

DON’T EXPECT TO BET PROPS ON NINERS WIDE OUTS AND SEE BIG DAYS

Niners QB Jimmy G was #28 this season passing the ball to his receivers lined out to the wide part of field. It’s the SLOT receivers you want to bet on as they finished #1 (9.9 YPP), 

SECOND QUARTER HAS BEEN A SCORE FEST FOR BOTH TEAMS THIS SEASON

In the second quarter this season the Chiefs scored an insane 170 points, not scoring 100 in any of the other 3 quarters. The Niners best scoring quarter was also the 2nd Quarter this year, scoring 111 points. The Chiefs scored 420 points and the Niners 405 points in the reg season. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

KC is the #2 best Special Teams and oh so dangerous to return a Punt or Kick Off for a TD or huge return. If this game comes down to Kickers, the Niners will be very uneasy as their Kicker R. Gould was (0-4) from 50+ yards this reg. season (he did make a 54 yarder vs. GB though). 

NINERS HAD JUST 3 LOSSES ALL SEASON

How close were the Niners to maybe being Undefeated this season?  Well all 3 losses came in the final minute of the game. For those who like Teasers, the Niners would have covered each game this year if the spread was same as this one (+1 1/2). 

HEAD REFEREE BILL VINOVICH : 

His Ref groups this year have thrown an average only 13.4 Penalty Flags this season. That’s in range of 20% less than the other Head Ref games this season. What team benefits more from less Flags thrown? Easy one and it’s Chiefs by wide margin. KC committed 32 Flags against them for Def. Holding/Illegal Contact (which hasn’t been called in last 15 Super Bowls/ Pass Interference. We normally see the Refs get less ticky tacky with Penalty Flags and hence the bigger beneficiary is the Chiefs. 

FINAL PASS FOR THIS SEASON:

Well folks I feel good saying this game won’t be a snooze fest like last years Super Bowl between Rams and Pats. For the Chiefs to win they need a strong game from the Defense but Mahomes must keep his bagel (no Interceptions in his Playoff career) and the Chiefs must stop dropping wide open passes (especially on third downs). The Chiefs Offensive Line must play their best game of the season. Anything less may not be enough as the Niners are a Monster with so many elite Pass Rushers. As for the Niners the biggest question is how much does Niners HC/Playcaller Shanahan allow Jimmy G. to pass the ball. With really him not passing ball much for a month now, can they just now ask him to pass it a ton? If he has to comeback, don’t count out Jimmy G. though, as he was second only to Saints QB D. Brees in Passing DVOA, and the Niners QB was shockingly were the best in the NFL this year when the team was down more than a TD. As I said earlier in this article, this is the best Chess Match we could’ve ever imagined. Both Head Coaches call the plays on Offense and really seem to figure it all out after a quarter of play. The Niners are the small Underdog yet it seems like 8 out of 10 guys are picking the Niners and not the small favorite, KC. One thing we do know is Chiefs HC Andy Reid will not go down being scared to take chances or risks. The Niners HC is more likely to play this one out not letting his QB lose the game, rather having his #2 Defense win the game. 

The temp for this Super Bowl down in Miami is going to be a gorgeous 70 degrees and no rain. As a bettor I hate weather deciding this game. When I first heard the game was in Miami, I cringed. It rains in Florida almost every day. Good weather to me helps the Chiefs as they will pass it so much more unless the Niners fall behind early. The Chiefs have NEVER lost a game by more then 7 points with Mahomes the starting QB. This fact alone shortens to me the edge the Niners possess on both sides of the Line of Scrimmage. Can this be the game the torch is passed from Pats QB Tom Brady to Mahomes? If the Chiefs avoid falling behind early again this game goes right to the wire. The Niners D is really good but they’ve not yet faced any team with this crazy speed the Chiefs have. I can only remember the Niners facing the Saints and QB Brees and how that game was the most exciting and fun game all season long. Insert Mahomes now in for Brees. Plus faster wide outs for the Chiefs. Can the Chiefs slow down the Motion Rush Attack of the Niners. Not likely. Do the Niners pass it 8x again vs. a very average Chiefs Secondary now without one it’s key guys? I doubt it. Look there are too many talented players on both Offenses to see this game not being a very fun and exciting game, full of some big and exciting plays made by these Offensive studs. 

Enjoy the Super Bowl folks and hope whoever you wager it’s a WINNING one. Have a fun weekend and this makes for another long NFL season in the books and ends my 31st season covering Football and the NFL! It was another outstanding season from a “Betting Perspective” as I’ll sleep well again until next season. It’s time for a nice Tropical Vacation as I decide my future as I have been offered a few great new opportunities but ones that would ask a ton more of my time. I didn’t need Kobe to pass away to get some “soul searching” mindset now about my Life. Getting sick and being told I had maybe a month or two at best to live in my early twenties did that for me a long, long time ago. I’ve so enjoyed building my now top Charity “Gary’s Kids” and for me at 56 it’s all about giving back even more. Helping others more. How many houses or nice things does a person really need? How many needy people (especially Kids and families with Sick Kids) can I help is the real question now. I hope what we gave you here has helped your Handicapping and mostly your time preparing to make your bets. Next season may be the biggest move I ever made if I feel I am up to the big task. Who knows maybe I decide it’s time to hang’em up too? I’ve been doing Homework every day for 31 years and I hated doing it for High School and College. Whatever decision made it’s been a really fun ride. May all your 2020 ahead be filled with Joy and Happiness but most of all GREAT HEALTH. May you all enjoy your ride ahead and please always remember to only bet what you can afford to lose. Betting is getting easier and easier with new states all opening up. Don’t let betting sports take over your life unless you are going to put in at least 25 hours a week to bet them. Maybe I will see you at a Baseball Park this summer? Beers on me if I do see you at a game. 

God Bless,

Gary Greene