At last, the seemingly interminable NFL season comes to a close in the first weekend of February – which has always seemed wrong to Red. The NFL should be done in January so that we can move on to more important things – like Spring Training or the MLS opener. In the past, Red has predicted that the 2032 SB will be played in March after an 18 game regular season and three rounds of playoffs culminating with the London Lords beating the Mexico City Aztecs as NFL champions.
Let’s look at the current odds. Right now the Chiefs are about a 1.5 point favorite and about -120 on the money line (meaning you win $100 if you bet $120 on the Chiefs to win straight up). The 49ers are correspondingly a 1.5 underdog and about even on the money line (bet $100 on 49ers to win and win $100). The over/under is right at 54. Red doesn’t go in for the myriad of prop bets available as many of those can be rigged (e.g. what color of Gatorade will be dunked on winning coach). If Red were going to choose such a bet he might go with number of first player to score touchdown. Red would double up on Numbers 10 (Hill) and 15 (Mahomes).
As for the game itself:
Chiefs over 49ers – To begin with, on Sunday the Chiefs will set an NFL record for longest span between Super Bowl appearances. The Chiefs last played in the Super Bowl IV on January 11, 1970 where they bested the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 (but who didn’t) at old Tulane Stadium (aka the Sugar Bowl) in New Orleans. This was before the AFL/NFL merger so do they have an NFL Championship?
As for the 49ers, this will be the team’s seventh SB showing and they are an amazing 5-1 in previous games having lost only in 2012 to the Ravens in a barnburner that capped off Flacco Joe’s amazing career start. The 49ers are in something of a championship drought themselves not having won it all since 1994. A win will tie them with the Stealers and Patriots for Superb Owl wins and who wants that to happen? Of course, all of those teams have a long ways to go before they match the Packers’ total of 15 NFL Championships.
Red doesn’t think there is any team that can keep up with the Chiefs if the offense is clicking. The 49ers offense is excellent, but hasn’t really been tested under fire like the Chiefs in the last two games. The Chiefs were well behind against the Texans (unbelievably so in fact) and the Titans and rallied to destroy both squads. The 49ers have had relative cakewalks against the Vikings and Packers.
Red will go with tested under fire every time. If form holds true, the Chiefs will fall behind. Red predicts 10-0 deficit after first quarter (so ignore Red’s prop bet). But then the furious rally begins as Mahomes hits Hill and then Kelce and the Watkins and then Kelce again and then back to Hill for touchdowns. The 49ers rather complete reliance on their running game becomes a big liability when all of a sudden they are down 35-20 heading into the 4th quarter. Remember that QB Jimmy Garoppolo has attempted just 27 passes, completing 17 for 208 yards with a TD and pick in the playoffs so far. (Contrast that with Mahomes who has thrown for 209 yards combined and five scores in just his two second quarters!). Despite previous heroics, the 49ers running corps cannot keep up. Red is completely “hats off” to RB Raheem Mostert who arguably had the greatest post-season performance ever with 220 yards rushing and four scores against the Packers – but that lightening is hard to put back in the bottle. The Chiefs pull away with two more scores and the 49ers get some points in garbage time to make it look sort of respectable. Kansas City 49 Santa Clara 35.
Finally, Red wants the book to be closed on the notion that the so-called “Air Raid” offense cannot work in the NFL. On a side note, see interesting article in today’s WSJ on the origins of the AR offense at Iowa Wesleyan. Guess who was there? Mike Leach who recruited Kliff Kingsbury who recruited Patrick Mahomes who Andy Reid had the good sense to draft.