One more game to go in this 2019/20 NFL season, and on paper, it looks to be a great one. My model does not have a definitive pick for this game. I have been going over the game thoroughly to see if I can find an edge for those of you looking to play the game.
Let’s look at how both teams stack up historically with past Super Bowl winners. The average Super Bowl winner looks like this;
Yards/game differential: +62.80
Turnover differential: +8.79
Offensive Yards Per Rush Rank: 12.18
Offensive Yards Per Pass Rank: 7.63
Defensive Yards Per Rush Rank: 11.29
Defensive Yards Per Pass Rank: 6.92
Offensive Passer Rating: 89.64
Defensive Passer Rating: 66.31
Scoring Margin: +9.55
Scoring Margin Rank: 4.13
Looking at the same stats for both teams;
Yards/game differential: KC +30, SF +99
Turnover differential: KC +8, SF +4
SRS: KC 9.14, SF 10.97
Offensive Yards Per Rush Rank: KC 20, SF 8
Offensive Yards Per Pass Rank: KC 5. SF 2
Defensive Yards Per Rush Rank: KC 28, SF 23
Defensive Yards Per Pass Rank: KC 6, SF 1
Offensive Passer Rating: KC 104.4, SF 103.1
Defensive Passer Rating: KC 83.5, SF 84.1
Scoring Margin: KC 8.9, SF 10.6
Scoring Margin Rank: KC 4, SF 3
The stats don’t give us a clear favorite. The line is currently Kansas City -1. I do not anticipate this line moving much in either direction. It is always possible for what appears to be a big line move when the line is around -1 because we are no near any key numbers. To have a game flip from -1 to +1 does not take nearly as much volume on one side as would a move from -3 to -2.5. Do not get too wrapped up in any line moves you see this week. Currently, there is more money being bet on the Kansas City side but nothing significant.
Offensively the game plan for San Francisco has been to run the ball down your throat all season. The 49ers run 52% of the time. That was the most in the NFL outside of Baltimore, who run it 54% of the time. In my rankings, which look at the average total yards above the average of the teams faced, they are +35.41. Considering how often they run the ball, that is a good but not great number. A look at DVOA confirms this as they rank 13th in rushing.
Jimmy Garoppolo rarely jumps off the box score page in any one game, but he has done a great job of being efficient and managing the offense. They rank 2 in offensive yards per play with a DVOA rank of 8 in passing. As we know, the Niners don’t rely on the passing game much, but they do have confidence in Jimmy G if they need to throw the ball. Garoppolo’s best games were when they needed him. SF gave up 24 or more points 6 times this year. In those games, Jimmy was 25 for 37 for 298 yards 3 TDs 1 INT. For DFS purposes, these numbers are significant.
San Francisco defensively has been the strong point of this team most of the season. Much of this defenses dominance came early in the season. In their first seven games, they gave up just 11 ppg. One of those games was a 9-0 win in the slop at Washington. Since that game, they have given up 23.9 ppg, which is worse than the league average.
Against the run, this team ranks 23 in yards per rush. Their DVOA against the rush is 11th overall. Against the pass, they have been much more dominant, ranking 1 in yards per pass and a DVOA rank of 2. They have given up 300 yards passing just twice this season, Week 14 against New Orleans and Week 16 against the Rams. Last week Rodgers was able to get 296 yards, but that was because the game was out of hand early, and Rodgers was throwing to try and get back in it.
Offensively this is the Patrick Mahomes show. Mahomes dealt with some injuries this season, which caused him to miss some games and has limited his mobility. That did not stop him from having a great year. He was able to throw for over 4000 yards completing 66% of his passes with 26 TDs to 5 INTs. The Chiefs ranked 5th in yards per pass. That is an impressive number for a team that throws it as often as they do (61.44%). Their DVOA ranked 2 in passing as well.
Running the ball has been an afterthought for much of the year. Kansas City ranks just 20th in yards per rush with a DVOA rushing rank of 14. They do, however, use their RBs in the passing game. While no one RB is near the top of the league in receiving yardage, Williams, Williams, and McCoy have combined for 561 yards through the air this year.
Defensively KC has taken the most criticism. Perhaps a bit unwarranted. They rank 10th overall in points per game, giving up just 1.3 more points than San Francisco. The strength of the defense has been against the pass. They rank 6th in yards per pass with a DVOA ranked 6th as well. They rank 17th in passing on my rankings primarily due to teams having to throw to keep up with their offense. From a fantasy perspective, that is important.
The rush defense has been weak overall. They rank 28 in yards per rush. Their DVOA is ranked 29. KC plays to their strength, which is passing the ball and putting points on the board. It makes it difficult to exploit their rush defense, forcing you to pass, which they are better at defending.
As I stated earlier, the model is not giving any plays on this game. Traditionally the running game has meant less in the Super Bowl than has the passing game. Both teams are better from an efficiency standpoint on the passing side, but the difference in QB play is significant.
I have heard some people talking about Arizona having success against SF this year as a good comp for this game. I think the better comp is Seattle, especially week 17, when they did not have a running game to rely on. If you watch the Arizona games, Murray was throwing quick passes to his primary receiver. Not a lot of post-snap reading. When he dropped back looking for big plays down the field, the SF pass rush was able to get to him. Russel Wilson held the ball longer, looking to make plays in their games with San Francisco. You will see Mahomes look more like Wilson than Kyler Murray. He is going to try and make some big plays. But Mahomes has better protection than Wilson does. The drives that stall for Kansas City will be the ones Mahomes gets caught looking for something big and gets them in a bad down and distance. The drives in which that does not happen look for them to be able to pick up first downs and some big chunk plays, which will ultimately lead to scores.
If you followed the playoff analysis I sent out, we are live with the SF future bet to win the Super Bowl. While the opinion is not strong, I do like KC in this matchup. I prefer the under in the game a little more than either side.
KC 28 – SF 23
Best Of Luck!