STAR PREVIEW: Super Bowl

SUPERBOWL LIV

ARROW-HEADS IN THE DIRECTION OF SUPERBOWL GLORY FOR CHIEFS
San Francisco 49ers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday 11:30pm GMT

Intro:

On the 6th August 2019 the NFL season kicked off at Lambeau Field, with the Chicago Bears taking on Green Bay Packers. Leap forward 256 regular season games over a seventeen-week period and ten post season games which were played over three weeks, we have now reached the summit of this sport. San Francisco 49ers will play Kansas City Chiefs for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s Superbowl LIV, welcome to Miami!

San Francisco breezed past Green Bay in the NFC championship game with a 37-20 win at home on January 19th. Kansas City Chiefs booked their ticket as they battled past the titans to a 35-24 score line also at home in the AFC championship game on the same evening. The last time these two teams met was back in September where Kansas on their home field beat the 49ers 38-27.

San Francisco Season:

Finishing the season with a slightly better record of 13-3 to win the NFC division. San Francisco secured home field all through their divisional playoff games. For what it’s worth, they will head into this game as the so called ‘Away team’ This alternates each year between the two divisions. It could have been very different had they lost an important match up in week seventeen with Seattle, where the winner would get a bye in the first round of the playoffs and receive home field advantage throughout. Jacob Hollister was stopped at the one-yard line, and bad team management from Seattle virtually gifted 49ers the pass. Their first playoff game was against Minnesota Vikings who thought they were going to come in and run through a 49ers defence. Star man Dalvin Cook who regularly racks up three figure yards was on a team which was limited to 21 rushing yards and eventually defeated 27-10. In the NFC Championship game, they faced the Green Bay Packers, and after already sinking them early in the season it seemed a repeat of that game but with bigger stakes on the line. The staggering facts in this game is that the niners rushed for 285 yards and only threw the ball eight times. At half-time they had shut Green-Bay out on 27-0. Single handed Raheem Mostert put up one of the greatest playoff performances ever seen where he rushed for 220 yards off 29 carries and landed in the end zone four times which made NFL history. The team also turned the ball over three times and with those accumulated ten points.

Kansas City Season:

High expectation in Arrowhead, Kansas City delivered the regular season with a 12-4 record and ran away with the AFC West title. Chiefs started 4-0 but then lost three out of their next four games and looked in all sorts of problems as Patrick Mahomes dislocated his kneecap and looked out for the season. However, a remarkable recovery saw him back three weeks later in a hard-fought loss to the Titans, but after that the Chiefs went unbeaten winning their final six. Much like San Francisco, it came down to the final game to decide their fate with the playoffs picture. A shock loss for New England at Foxboro gave Kansas the second seed in the AFC and a bye through the first round.

Two weeks later, the AFC divisional game Kansas were 24-0 down not long after the second quarter and needed a touch of magic against Houston Texans. In one of the most exciting playoff games ever witnessed, we saw them thrash the Texans 51-31 which put them in to the AFC Championship game. Much is the norm with Kansas, once again they started slowly out of the blocks and were 10-0 down early. It was back and forth, but after scoring a touchdown each to make it 17-7, Mahomes showed glimpses of why he is the pin-up for the NFL franchise when sending Kansas down the field on two touchdown drives within seven-minutes to lead by four going into half-time. One of those plays was a Mahomes 27-yard touchdown run which defied any doubters! The biggest problem going into this game was how they would approach the incredible Tennessee Titan running back Derrick Henry who had been setting records for fun. The Chiefs held him for 69 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. As a guide, Henry was in for 105.5 yards on the line and that was heavily supported. Kansas certainly had an answer if any questions were posed to their defence. The Chiefs went onto win this game 35-24 to book their ticket to the Superbowl.

San Francisco Run

San Francisco poses one of the most devastating rush offences in the league. With such a versatile orientating host of running backs, it gives them many options to cause a defensive nightmare for the opposition. Most teams supply a couple of running backs, but the 49ers have three-star men, and further down the roster they have further options. But heading into the big one after a recent scare in the last game to Coleman who dislocated his shoulder, they are all fit and healthy.

The obvious headliner is Raheem Mostert, who leads the way with 137 carries for 772 yards with eight scores, Matt Breida follows him with 123 carries for 623 yards and a touchdown, whilst Tevin Coleman has 544 yards from 137 carries with six touchdowns, but he was out injured for a few games in the first few weeks of the season. Breida has lost out in recent weeks as from week fifteen he has fumbled the ball three times resulting in two of them lost. Coleman has been a great short yardage man who can make crucial runs when needed, however you can’t look past Raheem Mostert. Last week in the divisional championship game he ran for 220 yards with four touchdowns, a truly magical display. Whoever the 49ers put in the backfield, the gaps will appear, and these will certainly be found. The biggest question always asked is why do they not asked quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to do more throwing the ball, well when you can turn around, hold the ball out and pass it to your best offensive weapons who are continually moving the chains, it is getting the job done. It may look pretty when throwing balls 40 yards through the air, but it is far more dangerous, and looking pretty doesn’t win you championships.

Kansas City Run

When you look at Kansas City Chiefs, you do not automatically think of their running game because of their star third-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs will always use the rushing attack as their second option, but the facts are in black and white that in their last four games they have rushed for over 100 yards. It has been a bit hit and miss, but injury to LeSean McCoy who moved from Buffalo at the end of last season didn’t help as he had been going along nicely with 101 carries for 465 yards with four scores, but hasn’t featured since week 15.

Damien Williams missed out for a while in the season with a knee injury and still managed to carry 111 balls for 498 yards with five touchdowns. In the post season he has rushed for 29 times for 92 yards with three touchdowns. It is worth noting that Mahomes is so nippy in the pocket that he often takes off on the ground himself and has had back to back over 50-yard rushing games including a touchdown last week. You would think early on that they will try to wear down the 49ers defence with some hard running, which makes me think that Le Sean McCoy could play a key part. He was ill before the AFC championship game but has had plenty of time to get himself fully fit for this and what a game to get yourself ready for. Alternating plays between him and Williams could tire the defence to set up the passing game.

San Francisco Pass

Jimmy Garoppolo has not been relied upon with his pass game as much as he probably has in the past because they have a team who like to run the opposition into oblivion. This season he has made 329 from 476 passes for 3976 yards with 27 touchdowns. On the downside, he has had 13 interceptions and was sacked 36 times which shows you why they prefer to use their outstanding run game. The 49ers have only had four 300 yard plus games through the air, and they were against much weaker opposition in slog fests.

However, if Kansas find a way to halt the running game then Jimmy will be looking for either George Kittle at Tight End, Emmanuel Sanders or Deebo Samuel the lightening quick wide receivers. Kittle has been their go-to man on passing with 85 passes for 1053 yards and five touchdowns. Simply the key man on pass game and makes plays when their backs are against the wall. Both teams possess arguably the best tight end in the league, and you would be hair-splitting to really separate them. The difference for me is that Kittle does not drop many passes and is very versatile in how he receives the ball, never looking for anything too spectacular just moving the chains whereas Travis Kelce is looking for the big play more often. Emmanuel Samuels who was acquired from the Denver Broncos earlier this season is their number one wide receiver with plenty of experience, he gets more than his fair share of the ball. This season he has 66 receptions for 869 yards with 5 touchdowns. Deebo Samuel with 57 receptions for 802 yards with 3 touchdowns is a slightly different wide receiver being placed further out on the lines and is very dangerous. He is fast, quite tall, and a wrecking ball when he gets going. If he is given space to build up some momentum, he will run you down. The question asked by many is with such a potent running game, how you shut that down without leaving too much space on the pass game?

Kansas City Pass

Patrick Mahomes NFL pin-up, headliner and Kansas City Chiefs star! Superlatives to describe this quarterback could go on endlessly. However, it could have been so different when he dislocated his knee early in the season and missed a few weeks which could have made him a long-term absentee, but he came back and even with a few up and down games, the chiefs never know when they are beaten, racking up some serious points. 319 completed passes from 484 attempts, with 4031 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions it has been at the high end of the quarterback spectrum. We know that Mahomes has established in recent weeks an improving and very good rushing offence, but the weapons on the pass game are on another level.

Teams last year realised that the Chiefs were a passing outfit, but this season have still not been able to stop them. The main target is Travis Kelce, the Tight end who has the most receiving yards through the first seven years of his career and clearly heading to a hall of fame spot as one of the very best of his position. He has become a regular thousand yard a season receiver, and this year he stands at 97 catches for 1229 yards with five touchdowns. In the post-season he also leads the way with 13 receptions for 162 yards and three scores. The thing with Kelce is he likes to make big plays, sometimes it can go against him which results in a few dropped balls, but he is a 6 foot 4, 118kg, a fast-moving nightmare for defences to tackle. He could be the man who wins this game and it’s hard to not think he won’t get on the score sheet being the first-choice target. However, an auxiliary of attacking weapons gives the quarterback so many other outlets.

Tyreek Hill has 58 catches, 860 yards for seven touchdowns gives another option and you certainly need your running boots on to catch him, as he is currently eyeing up a spot at the next Olympics in the American running team, that would need to improve but he has clocked 9.89sec over 100m. Give him a yard, he’ll take it to the end-zone. Sammy Watkins, not a cheap player on the roster who may potentially take a year out after the super-bowl, will become a free agent and would save the chiefs roughly 14 million a year. A man for the big plays, last week against the Titans he caught a 60-yard missile to effectively send Kansas through, that was his first touchdown since week 1. The amazing thing is that he is usually left with just one-man coverage as Kelce and Hill are accounted for by at least one, which leaves dangerous options wide open for the quarterback to find. Even Demarcus Robinson with 32 catches off 449 yards and 3 touchdowns can cause headaches. In the playoffs Mahomes has made 46 from 70 passes for 615 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Only sacked twice, it has been a monster performance. Kelce leads the receivers with 13 receptions and 162 yards for 3 touchdowns.

San Francisco Defence

They come into this game with 57 sacks, the highest in the league and six teams who have entered the Superbowl with over 55 sacks have all taken the big one home. In the last two games they have made Aaron Rogers look very ordinary, and shut Dalvin Cook out who has been nothing short of brilliant this season running through defences. This team they face though are different, and they will have to try and agitate Mahomes in the pocket by adding pressure as he often gets a lot of time on the ball.

San Francisco were ranked 2nd on yards allowed per game, however, with the number 3 offensive scoring team in the league with an unbelievable quarterback, any mistakes and they will be on the ropes. Interesting is that San Francisco pass defence gets plenty of work, due to the fact they have forced opposition into throwing ball after trailing early and have only given up three 300 yard passing games this season. Worrying for San Francisco is they have failed to get a sack for only the second time this season and they have both come in the last three weeks. If fatigue has become an issue the two weeks rest may be a huge bonus. Key names to note are Armstead and Bosa with 19 sacks between them. Sherman the ex-Seattle Seahawks star has 11 pass defences and leads the interceptions with three. In the post season Armstead and Bosa have five sacks, Sherman has 3 pass defences and two picks.

Kansas City Defence

Kansas have found it difficult to stop teams on the ground this season once again. In more than three quarters of their games they have given up over four yards per carry which will light the 49ers eyes up. In addition, over 100 yards on the ground in 10 games. It’s quite clear that the niners will be looking to run the ball through a run defence who are ranked 25th this season and have averaged 123.9 yards per game against the run. Another factor of this is it will take plenty of time off the clock and keep Mahomes off the field. However, come the playoffs they have ignited the defence, limiting the Texans to only 94 yards from 21 carries and Tennessee with one of the hardest running backs in the league who has had games of near 200 yards, to only 87 yards on 23 carries. The standout name is Frank Clark with 37 tackles, 8 fumbles and 3 forced fumbles. In the post season he has recorded 4 sacks. Other names to note are Damien Watson, Anthony Hitchens and Tanoh Kpassagnon.


JASON GANDER from starsports.bet on how the book is shaping up ahead of Super Bowl and some specials

Verdict:

A truly outstanding match up with arguably the best two teams in the league at the minute. They are both explosive teams in different ways and look sure to ignite on Sunday at the biggest game in most of these players careers. San Francisco will look to get off to an early start with their run game finding any gaps they can, but they are going to find it tough though as Kansas always seem to come up with a plan to stop plays. No matter how far they go behind (if they do) they seem to outscore opponents. Having stopped Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry in recent weeks they will have to find a different approach to stop an array of options on the rush of the 49ers attack, but if Kansas overcompensate defending the rush they could leave options open for Garoppolo to pass the ball to the likes of Kittle, Sanders and Samuel who can all make plays. It won’t be their first choice or the norm but given a chance he will exploit any gaps, and in the big games recent form can often go out the window and plays are made that you would not usually see.

The big factor for Jimmy Garoppolo is if he does throw the ball early and it lands for an interception he could just fall to pieces. Kansas look for me the much stronger with a more stable quarterback who just doesn’t crumble under pressure. He will get less time with the niners defence, but he will try and wear them down early to develop his pass game to a potent force of receivers. Kelce looks the most obvious to get on the score sheet being his main target all year.

Damien Williams is another who could add to the sheet as he gets the most plays rushing, if they get near the end-zone for a first and goal it is likely that he will be the man to run the ball in. They say defences win you Super-bowls, one of the most over used phrases in American football history. You are more than likely going to get to the Super-bowl with a great defence but on the day, it comes down to who makes the big plays. The total points look quite high as San Francisco will take plenty of time off the clock with their run game but it’s not a market I want to get involved in because if the run game does go wrong and they switch to pass, anything could happen. Patrick Mahomes has been known to keep the ball himself and given that the niners will be military like with their man marking early it may give him room to stretch the legs. I would look at going over on his yards as he has recently exceeded the line.

Overall, I think Kansas will be a much stronger outfit and will win comfortably. Jimmy Garoppolo under pressure can fold very easily. The run game could quite quickly get shut down and the Chiefs have a more versatile play book. The handicap you can get a variety of lines, my main pick would be giving up 1.5, but I’d go back as far to take at -4.5. In terms of team points, you may think that 28.5 points is a lot for Kansas, but in recent weeks they have shown how quickly they can score. Another interesting prop is Raheem Mostert 1st rush (Yards of Mosterts 1st carry as per nfl.com stat) he averages 5.6 yards per carry and will come into this fired up. There is certainly value here. Who will lift the Vince Lombardi trophy come the early hours of Sunday morning GMT time? I think Kansas. It’s sure to be a fantastic matchup!

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
Kansas City Chiefs – +1.5 3/4 4 points with starsports.bet
Kansas City Chiefs -1.5 9/10 5 points with starsports.bet
Kansas – 4.5 6/4 – 4 points with starsports.bet
Travis Kelce – Anytime touchdown scorer 10/11 – 4 points with starsports.bet
Damien Williams – Anytime touchdown scorer 4/6 – 3 points with starsports.bet
Kansas City Chiefs – Over 28.5 points – 23/20 – 3 points with starsports.bet
Patrick Mahomes – Over 32.5 rushing yards – 5/6 – 3 points with starsports.bet


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