It is time to determine the best of the best as the 2019-20 NFL season culminates with the San Francisco 49ers vs the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl LIV (6.30pm ET, Sunday, February 2nd, 2020).
It has been a great 100th season for the league, one that saw some amazing moments and some historical ones as well. It also marked what could be the end of some all-time careers.
For now though, the only question that remains is which team, the San Francisco 49ers or Kansas City Chiefs, will be left hoisting the Lombardi Trophy? We are here to help you figure that out with USAbetting’s Super Bowl LIV predictions, betting preview and picks.
Road to SB LIV 2020: The 49ers
Eight up, eight down. That’s how the San Francisco 49ers began their 2019-20 campaign. Looking like the most dominant team in the league wasn’t hard, especially in a schedule that featured early matchups against some of the NFL’s worst. That’s the mark of a good team. You don’t get to make your schedule so you might as well go out there and win the games you’re supposed to win. The Niners did just that for the first half of the season. It wasn’t until week 10 that they confronted their first real dose of competition in fellow NFC West team, the Seattle Seahawks.
The game needed overtime but in the end, it was the Seahawks who emerged with the victory and more than that, in control of their own destiny. In fact, despite opening the season 8-0, it wasn’t until week 17, a week the Niners entered with a 12-3 record, that San Francisco knew which seed it would have in the postseason. The loss to Seattle left San Fran with an 8-1 record which in no way should have been concerning. But it was, because it was the team’s first real test in the contender/pretender argument, and they fell short.
Over the remaining eight games of the season, the Niners lost just twice more, but they came within a three-week window that saw the team face the meat of its schedule. The first loss was to the Baltimore Ravens, a team that looked like they would represent the AFC in Super Bowl for the longest time. The second was an uncharacteristic one to the lowly Atlanta Falcons that left the Seahawks with a chance to win the division in the final week of the season. The 49ers needed a clock-expiring defensive stand that kept the Seahawks just inches away from winning, in order to secure the top overall seed in the NFC and not be stuck with the fifth one.
With a first round bye and home field advantage through the conference championship, the Niners made easy work of the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Now it is the Chiefs, where a win would give the franchise their first title since 1994 and sixth Super Bowl overall.
Road to Super Bowl LIV 2020: The Chiefs
An early pick to win the Super Bowl and recent perennial favorite with the American bookies and betting sites to at least land in the AFC title game, the Chiefs opened their season a perfect 4-0 before trouble struck. A bumpy middle of the season saw Kansas City lose Patrick Mahomes for a few weeks and lose four of six games.
By the time of their bye in week 12, the once 4-0 Chiefs were just 7-4. Much faith wasn’t placed in Kansas City at that point, especially with the Tennessee Titans, who had beaten the Chiefs in week 10, surging and looking to claim the AFC West crown.
They say it’s not about how you start but rather how you finish. While the Chiefs actually did start well, it was their six-game winning streak to end the season that helped put Kansas City right back in the conversation. Finishing at 12-4, the Chiefs earned the second seed in the AFC, which meant, like the 49ers, they too got a bye. It wouldn’t be fair to say Kansas City easily defeated the Houston Texans in the divisional round as it was Houston that actually led by over 20 points after the first quarter. Patrick Mahomes had a second quarter for the ages giving the Chiefs a halftime lead they never looked back from. The following week, the Chiefs turned another early deficit against the Titans into a pretty decisive victory as well.
Best of the West
On Sunday, the AFC West and NFC West collide. On the line? The greatest prize in the NFL. Both the Chiefs and Niners took a somewhat similar road to get to this point. Strong starts, weak middle, strong push at the end. The similarities don’t end there either as both the Chiefs and Niners ranked top-6 in terms of total offense. Both flexed that muscle in the postseason as well. The Chiefs especially, as the team has scored over 80 points in the last two weeks. That would be tough for any defense to defend against. Fortunately for San Fran, theirs isn’t just any defense.
Armed with a front seven that just gets after opposing QBs and the presence of the ball-hawking Richard Sherman in the secondary, the 49ers ranked second in the NFL in total team defense. That said, Mahomes isn’t just any quarterback either. One of the most mobile QBs in the game, Mahomes can do things with his feet that would impress anyone, but more threateningly than that, he can make a play out of nothing with his arm too. The Chiefs, in contrast to the Niners, allowed the third-fewest sacks in the NFL. Rubber meets the road on Sunday. Will Mahomes or the Niners defense prevail?
From a skill position standpoint, there is no question that Mahomes is the better quarterback and largely, has the better offense. To discount the Niners in this area would be fruitless. San Francisco can attack you just about any way, with the team rushing a three-running back set, utilizing some amazing talent on the ground. Through the air, while Jimmy Garropolo isn’t much of a gunslinging, he has got weapons, namely George Kittle. When it comes to tight ends in this matchup, both the Chiefs and 49ers have incredible ones.
For KC, Travis Kelce is a play maker and a game-breaker, something he showed against the Texans when he caught 10 passes, three for touchdowns, and 134 receiving yards. If Mahomes and Kelce hit their stride, look out anybody who stands in their way. For SF, the guy who is probably the second best tight end in the league right now, is George Kittle. Over the past two weeks, Kittle has been uncharacteristically quiet. Over the regular season, Kittle had 12 games of receiving over 50 yards. In the playoffs, he has two games that total just 35. The Niners will need more from him against a tough Chiefs defensive unit. That said, if Kittle can find the success he had for much of the regular season, he could be an X-Factor in this matchup for San Fran.
How To Bet: Our Preview’s Super Bowl Predictions, Picks, Odds & Betting Lines Verdict
The line for the Chiefs/Niners remains exactly where it opened, -1.5 for KC. Our money follows that. Don’t bet against Mahomes and his ability. Even the best defense, the Patriots, faltered when confronted with his talent earlier this season. Our Super Bowl LIV, San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs, predictions for this preview are:
- The first of the picks is to look for the Chiefs to get just their second Super Bowl and first since Super Bowl IV, some 51 years ago. Bet on Kansas City Chiefs -1.5pts @ best odds of -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker or Intertops
- With regards the total points likely to be scored, go over 54pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.