After taking a look at what San Francisco needs to do for a victory, I wanted to look into the Kansas City angle. The Chiefs are coming in hot to a game that not many saw them being a part of one month ago. Thanks to some stifling defense and timely offensive sparks, the reigning champs are back in the big game for the fourth time in five years.
The Chiefs D so far this postseason has been historically good, allowing less than 14 points per contest. They have shut down three of the top ten statistical QBs in a row between Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen and likely MVP Lamar Jackson. This isn’t a defense that was streaky or playing differently in the regular season, either. They were the second ranked unit in terms of scoring. However, they have started getting more consistent help from their offense, which had hit a wall late in the season.
While the scoring still hasn’t been up to par with years past for KC, they have done enough. The game was in control the entire time vs Miami. Buffalo was one of their best offensive performances of the season, and in Baltimore they did enough to get up early and ride their defense.
When the Chiefs matched up against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, they found themselves down 20-10 with seven minutes remaining. Due to a combination of ineptitude by Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garropolo, some magic from Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, and key plays from the defense, the Chiefs came out on top.
This time around, being down 10 in the fourth likely won’t bode well for KC. This is a Niners team that didn’t have Trent Williams, Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy, Brandon Aiyuk and even Charvarius Ward, who was on the Chiefs at the time.
To me, the key is going to be what the Chiefs have done all postseason. Score early. In December when the Chiefs struggled, they were held in check in the early parts of the game. Think back to that Christmas game against the Raiders. In the postseason, the Chiefs have scored on each of their first drives, and allowed the defense to complement them. Stopping the run is their specialty. The Chiefs D has allowed just 113 rushing yards per game, holding both Miami and Baltimore below the century mark.
If the game is close in the fourth, expect the Chiefs to become back to back Super Bowl Champions. Throughout the career of Patrick Mahomes, him and Andy Reid seemingly always get the last punch in big games like this. Just look at the latter stages of that Super Bowl four years ago in Miami. The clutch factor of Mahomes may be second only to Tom Brady. Another thing is, when trailing in the fourth quarter, Kyle Shanahan has struggled through his career. When trailing by 8 or more entering the final quarter, the Niner Head Coach is 0-37 in his career. On top of that, we have seen him crumble twice in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls. If you remember, he was the OC for that fateful 28-3 Falcon team.
All in all, the game will come down to KC’s ability to score early while controlling clock, stopping McCaffrey and the run game, and keeping it close heading into the fourth. If Kansas City is able to pull these three things off, the odds are quite high that they will repeat for the first time since Brady and the Patriots did it from 03-04. Super Bowl LVIII is only three days away. Buckle up folks, and Viva Las Vegas.