Well, Pickswise Nation, it all comes down to this. Super Bowl 58 has arrived and we have a rematch from 4 years ago with the San Francisco 49ers looking to exact revenge on the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers can count their lucky stars to be here, having twice overcome deficits to edge the Packers and Lions. As for the Chiefs, they’ve stepped it up markedly this postseason with Patrick Mahomes guiding them to wins over the Dolphins, Bills and Ravens.
All 4 of our Pickswise NFL handicappers have been phenomenal this season, especially when it comes to their NFL best bets. They boast a 64-43 record with their 3-star plays, which would return +39.42 units of profit if you backed them all. Now they’re back to give you their pick for who will win the Super Bowl. Will they take the Chiefs, the 49ers, or will it be a split right down the middle? Let’s dive into our Super Bowl 58 expert roundtable!
Chris Farley: Kansas City Chiefs ML over San Francisco 49ers (+110)
The San Francisco 49ers played well in parts of the third quarter and the fourth quarter in their comeback win against the Lions on Sunday. They were also very fortunate to win. The Detroit Lions made more mistakes in one quarter than maybe any other playoff team in NFL history. Yes, it was that bad. Their third quarter was littered with dropped balls that killed drives, foregone chances to kick a field goal, a fumble, and maybe the luckiest catch we’ve ever seen (we’re looking at you, Aiyuk). After they took a 24-7 halftime lead, the momentum took a giant swing with Detroit’s gaffes. And to San Francisco’s credit, they took advantage.
San Francisco’s on-field leaders, Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey, played with more intensity in the final two quarters, each making game-breaking plays to gain the lead. But make no mistake about it – their defense was a problem. The Lions’ ground attack did whatever they wanted in the first half, accumulating well over 100 yards. In total they gained 182, and it probably would have been more if Goff and the offense weren’t suddenly playing from behind. Jared Goff was surgical against the Niners’ secondary all game (25/41, probably should have been 30/41 with all the dropped passes, 1 TD).
The difference in the first half of the NFC Championship game was pressure. The Lions came ready, in attack-mode from the opening kickoff, and the 49ers couldn’t answer. Purdy’s lack of experience in football and in life (the kid is 24, for God’s sake) got the best of him early. He again looked rattled, struggled to find receivers, and threw more than one errant pass. And now Purdy has to face a much, much better defense. The Kansas City defense stifled one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses in the AFC title game. Lamar Jackson and his teammates were impeccable all season. That is, until last Sunday. Steve Spagnuolo’s group shut down Jackson after just one first quarter TD. It’s no secret anymore, the talent of the Chiefs’ defense is as legitimate as it gets– CB L’Jarius Sneed, CB Trent McDuffie, S Mike Edwards, DT Chris Jones– they all made huge plays against Baltimore, and they’re all making a case as the best at their positions.
The San Francisco defense is “talented” — at least that’s what analysts keep saying — but they haven’t been very good for awhile now. Baltimore dominated them in the trenches in Week 16, Jordan Love and Aaron Jones moved the ball up and down the field in the Divisional Round, and the Lions gained 442 yards and 28 first downs and couldn’t be stopped all game. If you haven’t noticed, Patrick Mahomes is the best football player in the world. He’s also one half of the most symbiotic QB/head coach dynamic in the league. He also has a damn-near telepathic connection with Travis Kelce. On top of all that, which already separates Patrick from the rest, his offensive line has been impeccable, and his running backs are tough and savvy. In short, we trust that the Kansas City offense will experience as much success as it wants in Super Bowl LVIII. There’s simply no reason to think otherwise.
The Chiefs are levels above other teams because of their intangibles. Their chemistry, their coaching staff, their experience, their leadership and moxie– no program can touch it, and it’s reminiscent of the NFL’s most recent dynasty (you know who we mean). There’s simply no way we can take Purdy over Mahomes, nor can we take a 49ers’ team that needs the ball to bounce their way a little too often to find success. The Chiefs won’t make the same mistakes as the Lions. And once again, Big-Red and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Andrew Ortenberg: Kansas City Chiefs +2.5 over San Francisco 49ers (-115)
I couldn’t imagine saying this a couple of months ago, but I think the Chiefs are going to win the Super Bowl once again. Kansas City looked unimpressive pretty much from start to finish during the regular season, but it appears they were merely working out some kinks and waiting to kick it into high gear once the postseason began. The Chiefs just beat the Bills and Ravens in back-to-back road playoff games, and they eliminated the 1-seed Ravens without even breaking much of a sweat.
Patrick Mahomes and the passing game look as good as they have all season, but it’s Steve Spagnuolo’s defense that will be the difference here. Spagnuolo just embarrassed the likely MVP Lamar Jackson, holding the Ravens to just 10 points. Brock Purdy isn’t nearly as good as Jackson is, and he’s struggled mightily in the first half of each of San Francisco’s 2 playoff games. Last week, he had several terrible plays including an interception that helped get his team in a 24-7 hole, and they only squeaked into the Super Bowl because of an all-time meltdown from Detroit that included multiple failed fourth-down conversions and a fumble deep in their own territory.
Purdy also was dreadful for much of their Divisional Round game against the Packers, missing throws all night long before finally stepping up for the final drive of the game. And that Green Bay game came down to the wire even though San Francisco was a double-digit favorite. The 49ers’ defense isn’t nearly as good as you might believe, and the unit took a big blow last offseason when DeMeco Ryans left to become head coach of the Texans. They’ve quietly consistently struggled when playing top offenses, and the Lions were even able to run the ball all over their vaunted defensive front last week.
In their last test of the regular season, the 49ers got shredded by Baltimore as they gave up 33 in a blowout loss — the same Baltimore team that the Chiefs just dominated. Kansas City has been in this spot plenty of times and won’t be fazed by the bright lights, while Purdy has looked overwhelmed at times during the playoffs even at home in front of friendly crowds. After starting 5-0, San Francisco went 7-5 down the stretch. They weren’t some juggernaut, and they’ve come very close to blowing both of their playoff games as massive favorites.
John Martin: San Francisco 49ers -2.5 over Kansas City Chiefs (-105)
Well, we made it. The final game of the NFL season is upon us, and it should surprise nobody that these are the 2 teams left standing. Even with a less-potent offense, the Chiefs have some of the best playcallers in the game, an elite defense and 2 Hall of Famers on offense in Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. The 49ers have been consistently the most dominant and highly-rated team all season long behind the efficiency of quarterback Brock Purdy and the plethora of his skill-position teammates. So, who’s the pick?
We are, essentially, forced to decide between what is real and what may be smoke and mirrors. In their 3 playoff games, the Chiefs could not have looked better. They never gave the Dolphins a chance. They scored on basically every trip against the Bills on the road. They pulled off the most impressive win of the NFL season last week against Baltimore. It’s by far their best stretch of the season, especially offensively. The 49ers, on the other hand, have barely scraped by. It took a missed field goal from the Packers to get the win in the divisional round. It took a miraculous comeback in the 2nd half to beat the Lions in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers, as a whole, have never looked worse than they looked in the postseason.
So what’s real? A Chiefs offense that has finally figured it out? A 49ers team that might not be the dominating force we thought it was? We are choosing to believe that what’s real is that the 49ers played far from their best game in these playoffs and have still won, both games against 2 of the hottest teams in football. We are choosing to trust the season-long data points: That the Chiefs are still lacking enough weapons offensively, even as great as Mahomes is, and that the 49ers are better at too many other positions not to win this game.
If the 49ers play to their talent, they will win the game on Sunday night and be champions. Kyle Shanahan will not fall into the same trap that Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken did. He knows how easily Buffalo moved the ball on the Chiefs, and it will be a steady diet all night long of Christian McCaffrey runs. Purdy, as he has for 2 years now, will make the throws he has to make and let the playmakers do the rest. Defensively, the 49ers are much better in the middle at defending tight ends. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks should focus on removing Kelce from the gameplan with Fred Warner and friends, and live with any other Chiefs pass-catcher beating him. It’s never easy fading Mahomes, and the Chiefs do have the advantage at that position, but this is a team game. The 49ers are the best team in the NFL and they should punctuate that moniker in the championship.
The Betting Queen: San Francisco 49ers ML over Kansas City Chiefs (-130)
What a great NFL season we have had and now it will be wrapped up with the Kansas City Chiefs facing off against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. This will be a rematch of the 2020 Super Bowl where the Chiefs came out on top 31-20 but this time I’m expecting things to be different. Both of these teams had phenomenal seasons and no one will want to go home a loser.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been dominant on defense in the NFL playoffs. In 3 games played, they have only allowed opponents to average 13.6 points per game. They are playing lights out right now and have stepped up in a huge way from how they looked in the regular season. We all know Mahomes is great, Pacheco is an excellent runner and Travis Kelce will continually get the ball. These are the Chiefs’ main weapons and if the 49ers can’t contain them then they will have a long night. As long as their defense can keep the game close they always have a shot to win with Mahomes under center working his magic.
However, the 49ers offense may be the best offense the Chiefs have faced all season long. The 49ers on the season averaged 29 points per game and had multiple offensive explosions. They are led by star running back and playmaker Christian McCaffrey, who is their workhorse and scored 21 touchdowns for them in the regular season and currently has 4 in the postseason. Brock Purdy also had a great year as well, and he should be able to pick apart the Chiefs secondary with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle as his main targets. Once the 49ers get the running game going with McCaffrey and open up the play-action pass for Purdy, it will be hard for the Chiefs to stop them. This will be the best offense the Chiefs have faced all year and I’m expecting it to show.
I’m taking the 49ers to get revenge for their last Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs and get that bad taste out of their mouths. Let’s roll with McCaffrey and Purdy to get the job done for San Fran.