Super Bowl LIV could deliver one of the best matchups ever when it kicks off tonight at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are facing off in what's expected to be a very close battle (the Chiefs are 1.5-point favorites). The matchup features the league's best pass defense in the 49ers, as they try to slow down one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes.
So, what exactly is going to happen in the game?
Predicting the Super Bowl can be nearly impossible, but we're going to try and do that anyway by making eight bold predictions for Super Bowl LIV. Remember, these are bold predictions only. If you're looking .
Let's get to the bold predictions.
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49ers break Super Bowl record for rushing yards
If the 49ers are going to break the Super Bowl team rushing record, they're going to have to hit 281 yards, which isn't going to be easy, especially when you consider that no team in the NFL has even hit the 200-yard mark in the Super Bowl since the 1987 season.
Although no team has crossed the 200-yard mark in more than 30 years, this feels like the year that the drought is going to end. For one, the 49ers have one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL. During the 2019 season, San Francisco averaged 144.1 yards per game, which ranked second in the league, behind only Baltimore. The 49ers have been even better in the postseason with an average of 235.5 yards per game. During the NFC title game, the 49ers ran wild over the Packers thanks in large part to Raheem Mostert, who rushed for 220 yards, which is now the second-highest total that any running back has ever rushed for in NFL playoff history. Besides Mostert, the 49ers also have multiple other weapons who can run the ball. During the regular season, the 49ers had four players rush for more than 150 yards (Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Deebo Samuel).
Although the Chiefs were able to slow down Derrick Henry in the AFC title game, they didn't do a great job of stopping the run during the regular season. In 2019, the Chiefs surrendered 4.9 yards per rush, which was the fourth-worst number in the NFL. The Chiefs also gave up 128.2 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 26th overall. Basically, if the 49ers rushing attack gets in a groove, it's going to be tough for the Chiefs to stop them.
If the 49ers break the record, they'd be knocking the Redskins out of the record books. Back in Super Bowl XXII, Washington rushed for 280 yards in a 42-10 win over the Broncos. If the 49ers can just hit 200 yards, that could be a good omen, and that's because teams are 7-0 in Super Bowl history when rushing for 200 or more yards.
Kyle Juszczyk scores a touchdown
The reason this prediction falls in the bold category is because Juszczyk only scored one touchdown during the entire regular season. As a matter of fact, he only touched the ball 23 times on the year. The one thing about Juszczyk though is that he basically serves as the utility man for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers have a tendency to line Juszczyk up all over the field in an effort to confuse defenses. In the NFC title game alone, Juszczyk lined up in eight different spots on the 49ers first eight plays. Basically, when Juszczyk has been on the field, the 49ers just haven't really been targeting him with the ball. Despite that, Juszczyk is definitely one of Shanahan's favorite players to utilize and it wouldn't be surprising if the 49ers coach puts in a package of plays for his versatile fullback, especially in the red zone.
Also, Juszczyk seems pretty excited about the game plan.
"It really was like Christmas coming in today -- fresh packet, all sorts of new, fun stuff that Kyle has for us. Excited to go out there and start working on it," the fullback said on Jan. 24, via NBC Bay Area.
It's also going to feel like Christmas morning for 49ers fans if Juszczyk scores a touchdown in game that the 49ers win.
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Patrick Mahomes throws two interceptions
Including the playoffs, Mahomes has started a total of 16 games this year, and not once did he throw multiple interceptions in a game, which means this prediction might be closer to crazy than bold. However, if there's one team that could potentially force Mahomes into throwing multiple picks, it's definitely the San Francisco 49ers.
The easiest way to rattle a quarterback is to bring a heavy pass rush, and the 49ers are more than capable of doing that. During the 2019 season, the 49ers defense recorded 48 sacks, which was the sixth-most in the NFL. The 49ers have actually been even better in the playoffs, as they've racked up nine sacks in just two games. Even though Mahomes is athletic and won't be easy to sack, that's not necessarily a bad thing for the 49ers defense. If they have him on the run, that could force him into making bad throws, which could in turn lead to multiple interceptions. Let's also not forget that the 49ers had one of the best secondaries in the NFL in 2019. San Francisco gave up the fewest passing yards in the NFL and it wouldn't be surprising if the 49ers secondary starts to frustrate Mahomes, which again, could lead to interceptions.
Also, let's not forget that this is the Super Bowl, and it's easy to be rattled by the magnitude of the game. Some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown multiple picks in a game, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Jim Kelly and Ben Roethliberger, who's actually done it twice.
There's at least two missed field goals
This might not seem like a bold prediction, but it definitely counts as one when you have a game that's featuring two of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. On the Chiefs' end, they have Harrison Butker, who has a career field goal percentage of 89.7%, which ranks only behind Baltimore's Justin Tucker. The kicker for the 49ers is Robbie Gould, who has a career field goal percentage of 86.8%, which ranks eighth all-time.
Although those are solid numbers from both kickers, the fact of the matter is that dealing with the pressure that comes with kicking in the Super Bowl isn't an easy thing to do. As a matter of fact, the only thing more difficult than kicking in a Super Bowl is kicking in a Super Bowl in Miami. Since Hard Rock Stadium opened in 1987, there have been a total of five Super Bowls played there and kickers have combined to go 18 of 26 (69.2%). Not only that, but there's been at least one missed field goal in every Super Bowl that's ever been played at the stadium. Not to mention, kickers have historically struggled in the NFL's biggest games, as they have combined to hit just hit 54.9% of their field goal attempts from beyond 40 yards over the past 53 years.
The only thing more fun than a touchdown in the Super Bowl is a touchdown that's not scored by either offense. In this case, the prediction here is that we see either a special teams or a defensive touchdown in Super Bowl LIV.
If we see a defensive touchdown, it wouldn't be surprising to see it come from the 49ers, who were better than almost anyone at forcing turnovers in 2019. During the regular season, the 49ers forced 27 turnovers, which ranked sixth in the NFL. The 49ers defense also scored five touchdowns during the season, which was tied for the second-most in the league.
Of course, a defensive touchdown by the Chiefs isn't completely out of the question, either. During the 2019 season, Jimmy Garoppolo threw 13 interceptions, which was tied for the eight-most in the NFL (he also threw one pick-six). Garoppolo also fumbled the ball 10 times during the season, and any time you put that ball on the ground, that's a recipe for disaster. That being said, if Kyle Shanahan only lets Garoppolo throw the ball eight times, it's highly unlikely he'll throw an interception.
From a special teams perspective, Chiefs kick returner Mecole Hardman is probably the most likely candidate to score a touchdown. Hardman already has one kick return TD on the year, and he almost broke another one loose against the Texans in the divisional round. Also, the Chiefs have been letting Tyreek Hill return punts during the postseason, and anytime he touches the ball, he's a threat to score.
Chiefs get an offensive touchdown of 75 yards or more
If there's one thing that almost never happens in the Super Bowl, it's a touchdown of more than 75 yards. Since the first Super Bowl in 1966, there have only been 10 total plays that have gone for 75 yards or more and ended in a touchdown. Of those 10 plays, only one of them was a touchdown run, which came by Willie Parker, when he scored on a 75-yard for the Steelers in Super Bowl XL. The other nine touchdowns were passing plays that ranged from 75 to 85 yards.
If there's one team that can score from anywhere on the field, it's definitely the Chiefs. With receivers like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs definitely have the speed to score from anywhere, which is something 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is definitely well aware of.
DC Robert Saleh on the speed of Kansas City's offense:— Keiana Martin (@KeianaMartinTV) January 23, 2020
"The Chiefs look like they got their roster from the Olympic relay team… They’re the fastest team by far.”
How does the 49ers defense stack up?
"I think we’re pretty fast. I’d like to think we’re pretty up there.”#49ers
The thing about the Chiefs is that it's not just their receivers who are fast, running back Damien Williams is also pretty speedy. As a matter of fact, Williams had two of the longest touchdown runs in the NFL this year. Not only did he score on an 84-yard run in the Chiefs' season finale against the Chargers, but he also had a 91-yard score against the Vikings in Week 9. Basically, when the Chiefs have the ball, every play is a potential scoring play no matter where on the field they are.
This is the highest-scoring Super Bowl ever
In what may come as a surprise to some people, the Super Bowl isn't usually a high-scoring event. In the 53-year history of the game, no two teams have ever combined to score 80 points in a game. The highest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history came back in 1994 when the 49ers beat the Chargers 49-26 in a game that topped out at 75 total points.
This year's game will feature two of the top offenses in the NFL, and although the Chiefs offense is garnering all the headlines this week, the fact of the matter is that the 49ers actually scored more points than Kansas City this year (479-451).
With two high-powered offenses on the field, this feels like a game that could turn into a shootout, and if that happens, it wouldn't be surprising to see a final score somewhere in the range of 40-37, which would set the record.
The MVP isn't won by a quarterback or wide receiver
Over the past 16 years, the Super Bowl MVP award has gone to a quarterback or a wide receiver a total of 14 times, but we're going to throw that trend out the window for this bold prediction and say that another position ends up winning the award.
The reason the prediction makes sense this year is because there's so many good candidates. On the Chiefs' end, a big game from Travis Kelce or Damien Williams would mean that the award would go to a tight end or a running back (A running back hasn't won the award since Super Bowl XXXII and a tight end has never won it).
Speaking of tight ends, George Kittle is also a solid dark-horse MVP candidate. Also, let's not forget about that 49ers ground game. If San Francisco's rushing attack goes off, then we could see one of their running backs take home the award. The 49ers also have a stout defense and if Nick Bosa were to rack up a few sacks, he's another player who could potentially take home the award. If the Super Bowl gets crazy enough, we might even see a kicker win the award, which has never happened in NFL history.