What to know for Super Bowl LIV: 49ers-Chiefs picks, MVP predictions, prop bets and more

Article Date(s): Saturday 01 February, 2020
It's finally time. Super Bowl LIV is here, and the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up for all the marbles.

Doing some last-minute prep before Sunday's 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff (Fox) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida? Our NFL team has you covered with everything you'd ever want to know, including team previews, bold predictions, and game picks. We also provide betting advice from our ESPN Chalk experts, game-plan breakdowns from our analysts and in-depth statistics from our ESPN Stats & Information team.

Let's dive into 49ers-Chiefs with our one-stop-shop cheat sheet.

Previewing 49ers vs. Chiefs

The 49ers and Chiefs have plenty in common. They're both built in the image of brilliant offensive minds in Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid. Their offensive philosophies, at their core, are identical: speed kills. They force defenses to guard every blade of grass on the field and punish them in seconds when they try to get away with taking a playoff. At their best, it seems absurd that anybody could stop them. For most of this postseason, nobody has.

Of course, these teams serve up the same problems in two totally different ways. The Chiefs have to set an alarm on their phone to remind themselves to run the ball; this is the offense that called 31 pass plays against just six runs while scoring seven consecutive touchdowns in a furious onslaught of a comeback against the Texans in the divisional round. The 49ers, meanwhile, have dialed up runs on 71 of their past 88 plays.

You can make a credible case for each side using the weapon the other doesn't have to win in Miami. The 49ers have a dominant front four and the league's second-best defense. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, and that seems to grant them access to a previously unimaginable realm of football at his best. -- Bill Barnwell, senior NFL writer

What ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) says

FPI predicts a Chiefs victory in 64.8% of its simulations by an average of 5 points. It is the heaviest favorite that FPI has predicted in a Super Bowl since the metric's inception in 2009.

Our matchup rating grades 49ers-Chiefs as 97.2 on a scale of 1 to 100. It is the sixth-highest Super Bowl matchup rating since 2009.

The Chiefs were No. 1 in FPI this season, while the 49ers were No. 4.

In the preseason, the Chiefs had a 27.1% chance to make the Super Bowl per FPI, but the 49ers were looking at a slim 2.8% chance.

Who wins the game?

Of the 108 experts who weighed in, the Chiefs were favored by 68 of them (63%), while the 49ers claimed 40 votes (37%). See all of our experts' picks.

18 Pro Bowlers weighed in on the matchup. See what they said.

Key stats to know

This will be the second Super Bowl between a team that led its conference in rushing yards (49ers) and one that led its conference in passing yards (Chiefs). The Chiefs have gained 73% of their yards this postseason through the air, and the 49ers have gained 71% of their yards on the ground.

Mahomes has an NFL-best 91 QBR vs. zone coverage this season, but the 49ers play zone at the second-highest rate (64%) and limit opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 4.7 yards per dropback when using zone.

This is the first Super Bowl matchup between two tight ends who each had 1,000 receiving yards during the regular season. San Francisco's George Kittle leads all tight ends in yards after the catch and has the most yards after contact by a tight end since Rob Gronkowski in 2015. The Chiefs' Travis Kelce has 21 catches on throws 15-plus yards downfield this season, the most in the NFL at his position. The last tight end with that many deep catches was Greg Olsen in 2015.

The 49ers' offense improved by 8.6 points per game from the previous season, and the defense improved by 7.8. They are the seventh team since the 1970 merger to improve by a touchdown on both offense and defense from the previous season.

Including the playoffs, Kansas City has held opposing QBs to a 62% completion rate on play-action passes, the third-lowest in the NFL. The 49ers used play-action on 32% of dropbacks this season.
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