In their Super Bowl clinching victories, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers put up 35 and 37 points respectively, while also giving up 20+ points each. Needless to say, both Championship Game overs hit, and with Patrick Mahomes on one side and a 49ers offense that is loaded with weapons on the other side, it’s not surprising to see the total, which opened at 51.5 at many books, climbing rapidly. A high-scoring Super Bowl is what all of America wants. Last year’s 13-3 Patriots’ victory over the Rams was a game that many would consider a boring slog, while the Eagles’ victory over the Patriots two years ago was one of the most exciting Super Bowls in recent memory. We all want points. I’m here to tell you why we’re not going to get them.
The 49ers are coming off one of the most dominant Championship Games that we’ve ever seen. They led the Packers 27-0 at halftime and, despite the final score, were never in danger of coming close to blowing their huge lead. Raheem Mostert ran for 210 yards and four touchdowns as their offensive line demolished the Packers’ defensive line. The 49ers are going to want to run the ball again this week and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands, but the fact is, the Chiefs aren’t the Packers.
Despite what many believe, the Chiefs’ run defense isn’t actually that bad. It was terrible to begin the season, but during their eight-game winning streak they’ve given up just 93.63 yards per game on the ground. Only five teams had a better mark than that on the season. So while the Chiefs finished the season ranked 26th in rush defense, they are not the 26th best rush defense right now. In the AFC Championship game, they held Derrick Henry to 69 yards rushing. When the two teams met the first time, which was also the last time the Chiefs lost this season, Henry rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns. All of this is to say that the 49ers are not going to break off huge chunk runs against the Chiefs as they did against the Packers (Raheem Mostert averaged 7.6 yards per carry). That means that 49ers’ rushing attack will actually slow the game down, rather than speed it up as it did in the NFC Championship game.
Even if the 49ers’ offense doesn’t produce as much as they did in the NFC Championship Game, Patrick Mahomes still has to have a less than stellar game for this total to go under. Well, if there is any unit up to the task of shutting down the Chief’s quarterback, it is the 49ers’ defense. In the NFC Championship Game, they sacked Aaron Rodgers three times, forced three fumbles, intercepted him twice, and held the Packers without a score in the first half. Yes, they gave up 20 points in the second half and Rodgers threw for 326 yards, but all of that came when the game was already well within hand. That type of performance has been the 49ers MO all season long. They led the league in pass defense with 169.2 yards allowed per game, and they were tied for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks. The solid defensive play has continued into the postseason where they’ve racked up nine sacks and forced five turnovers.
Looking at the two offenses on paper, the Chiefs’ offense is definitely more appealing than the 49ers, but San Francisco has proven time and time again this season that they can score with anyone. And while the Chiefs are known for their high-powered offense, they’ve also won games without giving up very many points. They beat the Patriots 23-16 earlier this season, during a stretch where they gave up nine, 16, and three points twice in a four-game span.
The Super Bowl is the NFL’s biggest stage, which could lead to both teams being tight early. The Chiefs have gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two games, falling behind 24-0 and 17-7, and with an extra week off they could be even rustier coming into this game. The 49ers don’t need to outscore you to beat you and will likely try to slow this game down and beat the Chiefs with fundamental football. Add in the fact that this game is being played in Miami, which has a covering for the fans but not for the field, and if an unpredictable rainstorm rolls through at any point the playing surface could get sloppy making it difficult for either offense to score.
So, it might seem crazy to take the under in this Super Bowl, but when you actually break it all down there are numerous factors leaning in its favor. The number should continue to rise as we approach game day, so if you’re on the under, you can wait until closer to kickoff before placing your bet.