MIAMI, Feb. 2 (UPI) — One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will take on one of the league’s best defenses in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The strength-against-strength matchup marks the NFL season finale with Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes set to face the Richard Sherman-led San Francisco 49ers secondary.
The 49ers boast an elite rushing attack, while the Chiefs have stepped up their play against the run in the postseason.
Kansas City is a 1.5-point favorite to beat San Francisco, according to Caesars. The game has an over/under of 54 total points.
Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for the game after winning their respective conference championships.
“You have to visualize it if you want to go out there and do it,” Mahomes said Thursday. “For me it’s about going out there and executing the game plan at a high level, trusting in the process, trusting in my teammates and not trying to do too much.”
Mahomes heated up
Mahomes — the reigning NFL MVP — led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes in 2018. He threw 26 scores in 2019, but heated up late in the season. He has thrown a total of eight touchdowns in two games this postseason, but is in for a tough matchup against the NFC’s stingiest defense.
While Sherman headlines the back end of the secondary, the 49ers also have a hungry group of pass rushers, led by Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa. The Ohio State product had nine sacks, while teammate Arik Armstead had 10 sacks. The 49ers had six players with at least three quarterback takedowns this season.
“Mobility will be something I have to utilize,” Mahomes said. “When you have a pass rush like this that can really get after the quarterback, mobility in the pocket and being able to move in the pocket when I have to and getting the ball out of my hands will be very important.”
49ers stressed running game
Mahomes is the clear leader of the Chiefs offense, but 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has not had to throw much this postseason. The 49ers leaned on their running game for most of the season, recently using a franchise-record 220 rushing yards and four scores from running back Raheem Mostert to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Stopping Mostert and the 49ers’ other dynamic running backs will likely be key in the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. The 49ers led the NFC in rushing this season. The Chiefs tied for allowing the fourth-most yards per carry (4.9), but did put a stop to Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry’s impressive playoff run in the AFC title game.
Tevin Coleman’s health status is a big question entering the game, as the 49ers running back dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers had six 100-yard rushing performances this season, coming from three different running backs.
“When all our backs are healthy, we usually use all of them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahn said. “Whoever gets the hot hand ends up [getting the most carries]. We all know that was Raheem the second half of the year. Hopefully we will have all of them going full speed, I expect them to be [active].
“But Kansas City can take away whatever they want to take away.”
Super Bowl LIII
Who: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
When: 6:30 p.m. EST Sunday
Where: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Streaming: Fox Sports app