Super Bowl LVIII Preview & Prediction

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter/X: @FBGarbageTime

Don’t forget to check out last week’s podcast to get a full breakdown of Super Bowl LVIII from Scott King and me!

Super Bowl LVIII

Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) vs. San Francisco 49ers (12-5)

Sunday, February 11, 2024 – 6:30 PM ET

  • 49ers favored by 2
  • Over/Under: 47.5
Kansas City Chiefs Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 6th (246.4)
  • Rushing – 19th (104.9)
  • Points – 15th (21.8)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 4th (176.5)
  • Rushing – Tied 17th (113.2)
  • Points – 2nd (17.3)
  • Turnover Differential – (-11) (Tied 4th Worst)
San Francisco 49ers Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 4th (257.9)
  • Rushing – 3rd (140.5)
  • Points – 3rd (28.9)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 14th (214.2)
  • Rushing – 3rd (89.7)
  • Points – 3rd (17.5)
  • Turnover Differential – (+10) (Tied for 5th Best)

Preview & Prediction

The 49ers have the 4th best passing and 3rd best rushing offense and they scored the 3rd most points per game in the NFL this season.

A large part of that is Brock Purdy‘s efficiency and Christian McCaffrey‘s dominance on the ground.  McCaffrey led the league in rushing yards (1,459) and scrimmage yards (2,023) during the regular season and was perhaps the single largest reason they managed to outlast the Packers in the Divisional Round piling up 128 total yards and 2 TDs as well as managed the comeback win against the Lions in the Conference Championship with 132 total yards and another 2 TDs.  What’s particularly impressive is that CMC is just as effective through the air amassing the most receiving yards (564) and receiving TDs (7) of any RB this season, in turn setting an 8-year career record for receiving TDs in a single season.  In the playoffs, CMC has the second most rush yards per game (94.0), most rushing TDs (4), and most receiving yards per game of any RB (36.0).  Over 6 career playoff games, McCaffrey has now averaged 112.7 total yards per game, scoring at least one TD each time.

The Chiefs allow 82.2 rush yards per game and 4.47 yards per carry, plus they allow 30.50 receiving yards per game, 6.56 yards per reception and a 78.8% catch rate to opposing RBs.  That’s essentially the perfect setup for CMC.  But don’t let the numbers fool you, the Chiefs have been one of the best defenses in the NFL this season and have been just as good in the postseason allowing an average of only 295.7 total yards to opposing offenses.  Particularly impressive is limiting Josh Allen to his lowest yards per attempt of the season and his second lowest passer rating in his last 6 games as well as holding the presumptive regular season MVP, Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens to just 10 points, far less than the 28.4 points they averaged during the regular season.  So, it might be tougher sledding for Brock Purdy, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, particularly with the Chiefs defense having the second most sacks (57) during the regular season, in large part due to Chris Jones.  That being said, what we’ve learned is that the 49ers don’t have to be perfect to win games, having come back from significant deficits to beat the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in the playoffs.

On the other side of the ball, the 49ers defense allows the 3rd least points per game to opposing teams.  So, it’ll be important for the Chiefs will be to take some deep shots when available against the 49ers 14th ranked pass defense.  That shouldn’t be a problem for Patrick Mahomes, who’s been here before, won two Super Bowls and has the highest postseason QBR of any QB in the playoffs (90.2), not to mention he’s had 0 interceptions.  The Chiefs have absolutely returned to form in the playoffs after a “slide” in the regular season, including Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice.  Kelce in particular has 262 receiving yards and 3 TDs on a whopping 23 receptions over 3 playoff games and Rice has stepped up as a true WR1 on a team that led the league in drops in the regular season.  And even though the 49ers have the 4th best run defense in the league this season, the development of Isiah Pacheco into a true bell cow back has made the Chiefs more multidimensional than they ever had been in the past, taking significant pressure off Mahomes.

The Chiefs did have an issue with ball security, having a turnover differential of -11, good for 4th worst in the league this season, but have turned it around in the post season with a +2 turnover differential, tied with the 49ers.

The key for the Chiefs will be Mahomes avoiding a Nick Bosa led pass rush and taking advantage of an exploitable secondary.  With all-pro left guard Joe Thuney essentially ruled out again, it’ll be even more important for the Chiefs to avoid obvious passing situations that will allow the 49ers to increase pressure.  This means support players like Justin Watson and Marques Valdes-Scantling will need to step up to keep the ball moving as Rice and Kelce are likely to get plenty of attention from the 49ers secondary.  For the 49ers, the key is ball management and Christian McCaffrey.  If CMC is able to exploit the vulnerable Chiefs run defense, and maintain an edge on time of possession, the 49ers should be in good shape so long as they don’t turnover the ball.  The 49ers aren’t traditionally a comeback team, but they’ve been so in the playoffs so far, and although Mahomes has the edge on Purdy, Purdy has the better weapons around him. I’m expecting a close game, but I see the 49ers staying disciplined and pulling it out in the end.

49ers Win