Super Bowl 58 Preview: Is Brock Purdy better than Patrick Mahomes?
According to Pro Football Focus…. No. Purdy is not better, BUT some stats would surprise you in how each of them has played in the regular season versus the playoffs.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) came out with their “All Super Bowl Team” listing the players that would start at each position if the teams combined. To no surprise, Patrick Mahomes takes the spot at quarterback, meaning Patrick Mahomes is better than Brock Purdy. Shocker. The 49ers, on the other hand, take an overwhelming amount of skill positions.
Over the 22 positions (starting 11 on offense and 11 on defense) PFF only listed the Kansas City Chiefs 4 starters on Offense and 5 starters on Defense. One would interpret this as the San Francisco 49ers having an advantage at most positions on the field. The major difference that most would recognize is Patrick Mahomes.
Brock Purdy VS. Patrick Mahomes – Regular Season vs. Super Bowl 58
During the regular season, some might think Brock Purdy was better than Patrick Mahomes, and in most categories he was. Purdy had a QB Rating of 113, and a QBR of 72.7. Most will note the narrative of “game manager” when it comes to Brock Purdy, but he did create buzz when it came to the MVP conversation. He had 4,280 yards in the regular season, 31 TDs, and 11 INTs.
Patrick Mahomes was somewhat mortal during this regular season. QB Rating of 92.6, QBR of 63, 4,183 yards, 27 TDs, 14 INTs. It was also stated that Patrick Mahomes led the league in 1st downs converted due to scrambling out of the pocket. The biggest story was not the passer, but the receiver when it came to the Chiefs. Kansas City had the highest drop rate in the NFL at 6.9%.
The regular season is over now, onto playoffs. Patrick Mahomes passes a 100 QB Rating during these last 3 games. He has 718 yards, 4 TDs, and an amazing zero in the turnover category. Purdy on the other hand 519 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. Brock’s rating also dropped from 113 to 87.7.
Regardless of ratings and stats, both have played incredibly this season, and yes Patrick Mahomes is better, but Brock Purdy has had his moments of greatness within the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City was 11-6 (10-7 against the spread) in the regular season and has gained 3 more wins within these playoffs (3-0 against the spread) after earning a 3 seed on the AFC side. Pro Football Focus ranks them 3rd overall in Power Ranking for the NFL (7th on Offense, 11th on Defense).
Kansas City Offense
Kansas City ranked 15th in points per game this past season. I would imagine some would be surprised by that number, but stylistically they have moved away from the chunk scoring plays, but have still been able to capitalize on chunk plays that move the chains, rather than score.
The Chiefs rank 8th in yards per game these playoffs with 363 per game. Ranking 8th is a bit shocking, but remember the possession game that the Chiefs played in their game against the Ravens (they almost doubled them in time of possession).
The Chiefs’ ability to take advantage of a “stagnant” 49ers defense will be key. The 49ers stay in a 4-man front most of the game and do not send a ton of pressure. The Chiefs will do their best to run the ball against the 49ers (average 127.3 in the playoffs) and work their way down the field. Travis Kelce will be a large factor on early downs as the 49ers will run more of their cover 3 sets on 1st down. Look for Kansas City to continue with 2 Tight End sets (12 personnel), and for Kelce to motion into different bunched/stacked sets.
Kansas City Defense
Throughout the playoffs, the Chiefs rank 2nd in yards allowed to opponents offense. What is surprising with the success they have had in these playoffs is their ability to stop the run. During the regular season, they allowed roughly 89 yards per game in rush yards, but during the playoffs that number has climbed to a massive 113 yards per game.
Steve Spagnuolo, the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, has been amazing these past few seasons, but even more so during the 2023 season and playoffs. Spagnuolo has switched up the game plan for every opponent to not only highlight his roster but to stop the opponent’s quarterback. Early on, Spagnuolo ran a ton of “simulated pressures” against the Dolphins and the Bills, he would show blitz, but bailout. Against the Ravens, he switched that completely. He sent 5-man pressures at some of his highest rates for the season.
Spagnuolo has made his mark on the NFL running Cover 1 and sending pressure. He has run cover 2 the past few seasons very well, and against a San Francisco Team that wants to try a couple of shots down the field, he will try to use that on early downs to avoid that. It has been noted that the way Spagnuolo uses his nickel and dime packages is some of the best in the NFL. It will be a chess match between Shanahan and Spagnuolo.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco was 12-5 (9-7-1 against the spread) in the regular season, and has gained 2 more wins within these playoffs (0-2 against the spread) after earning a 1 seed on the AFC side. Pro Football Focus ranks them 2nd overall in Power Ranking for the NFL (1st on Offense, 2nd on Defense).
San Francisco Offense
Purdy is good, but as PFF has already shown, it is the weapons that highlight this offense. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best backs in football. He averages 5.4 yards per carry and 4.2 yards per catch. Deebo Samuel is averaging around 60 yards per game. Brandon Aiyuk converted the most first downs via air in the NFL. Then there’s George Kittle. Kittle is one of the biggest pieces in this 49ers offense. He holds the keys to the car, it does not go without him. He led the NFL in Tight End receiving yards.
Pre-snap motion has been around for a long time, but it has taken on a new face in the past 10 years. Kyle Shanahan has reinvented pre-snap motion. Since he became a play-caller in the NFL he has been atop the league in that category, this year is no different.
“During the regular season, San Francisco motioned at the second-highest rate in the NFL (70.2% of all offensive snaps) and used motion at the snap on a whopping 37.7% of its offensive plays (per ESPN), the third-highest percentage in football (according to CBS).”
San Francisco will need to be multiple and simple in their attack on the Kansas City Defense. Use all the weapons that you have. Keep things simple for Brock Purdy. If you can allow your playmakers to get the ball quick and work downhill, success will be seen. Continue to use McCaffrey with multiple run variations, regardless of the score. Make sure that the motion that is used allows for the offense to gain an advantage.
San Francisco Defense
San Francisco’s defense has been less than elite during these playoffs. They are allowing 386 yards per game, which ranks 9th of the 14 teams that qualified. The Achilles heel for them has been stopping the run. San Francisco has allowed 159 yards per game during the last 2 games.
Elite was a term used when talking about the 49ers in the regular season, but they are far from that lately. The pass rushers of San Fran have shown that they are exactly that. The 4-man front of San Fran has shown to be more pass-oriented, rather than playing the complete game they need to.
Overall, San Francisco has shown that they will run their base cover 3 most, but they have mixed in more coverage options than they have in the past. They blitz at one of the lowest rates in the NFL, and they also stunt at one of the lowest rates.
For San Francisco to stall the great Patrick Mahomes, it starts with stopping the run. They need to allow their linebackers to run free in lanes & make tackles. Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw do a tremendous job of rallying to the football, dropping depth in coverage, and their overall ability to run with offensive players. If the 49ers are going to win, those two linebackers need to be everywhere.
Preview of Super Bowl 58
Stats can be interpreted any way you want them to look. With 2 weeks off in between the conference championship games, people can tend to over-analyze both of these teams. Both teams are great. Both teams are elite. The keys to the game are simple and opposite for each team.
Chiefs to win:
- Run the Ball
- Find Kelce on Early Downs
- Confuse Brock Purdy with pressure and simulated pressures
49ers to win:
- Stop the Run
- Linebackers play at their elite level
- Keep things simple for Purdy
Most are probably looking for a massive trend, stat, or idea that can unlock the winner, but unfortunately, with these two teams, there isn’t one.