Super Bowl XIV a Tough One to Call [OPINION]
The San Francisco 49ers will be representing the NFC and the Kansas City Chiefs will represent the AFC, both defeating their challengers on their home fields this past weekend in similar fashion.
San Fran beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 and Kansas City beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24.
While Kansas City finds themselves the early favorite in Las Vegas (-1.5), we can see this is a tough game to predict for the oddsmakers. It's not likely to be a kind of game that comes down to one thing or the other. Both teams can adjust to problems the other team poses.
On one hand, San Francisco appears to be able to shove anyone all over the field on both sides of the ball. They possess a strong running game and a big, smart, talented defense.
On the other hand, Kansas City has about as good a passing game as seen in many a year. While quarterback Patrick Mahomes got off to a slower start than last year, he seems to be firing on all cylinders and possesses the fastest man in the NFL in wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Both teams also boast of having the best tight end in their conference.
Kansas City doesn't have a great track record of stopping the run very well but did exactly that against the Titans big, strong offensive line and their 6-foot-4, 250-pound running back Derrick Henry, who was held to 70 yards Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
The challenge will be different in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. The 49ers have a great change-of-pace trio of Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. They also have one of the best play-callers in Kyle Shanahan. If Kansas City over-commits to stopping the run, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will have at his disposal tight end Greg Kittles and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, one of the toughest guys to cover in the entire NFL.
So San Francisco offers better designed (and called) plays, a better tight end and quarterback, differing challenges in the running game than the Titans offered and a fairly better receiving corps.
However, what happens if Kansas City gets in front of the 49ers early and jump out to a 10-14 point lead? Can San Francisco lay their hopes on the play of Garoppolo, who threw for six passes and 77 yards in the NFC Championship Game?
I think that is the scenario the 49ers would like to avoid at all costs. It seems it would be imperative that San Fran stays in the lead or keep it close to continue its smashmouth football.
We all know that there seems to be no lead over Kansas City that is safe. Mahomes appears ready to be the next contender to the GOAT title, but he will be facing a very talented defense that has shown great poise and discipline all year.
A (very) slight advantage in the kicking game goes to Harrison Butker on the Chiefs. His leg is younger and stronger than Robbie Gould's but neither is a slouch this year. Gould hit an outdoor 54-yarder in the NFC Championship Game Sunday and Butker can boast of hitting a 70-yarder, albeit in Mexico City, which sits over 7,200 feet in altitude.
We'll see which team can handle the bright lights of the Super Bowl and the two-week surreal hype that precedes it, but this is a dangerous game for bettors and should be a lot of fun for fans.
KEN'S CALL: San Francisco 37, Kansas City 31
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@