Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2020-21 NFL playoff predictions (Part 3 - Championship)

Welcome to part 3 of my 2020-21 NFL playoff predictions! Three for four on the Divisional games, correctly predicting all but the Buccaneers victory.

And then, there were only four. Four teams left standing, all eager to a chance to play in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Here are the four potential match-ups:

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers

Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

But which match-up will it be? 

Let's find out.

AFC

#1 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #2 Buffalo Bills

And so two powerhouses finally meet. The reigning Super Bowl champions against an ascendant squad determined to win their first Super Bowl.

The Kansas City Chiefs have retained virtually all their strength from last season, steamrolling almost all opposition en route to the playoffs. Still, there remains concern over Patrick Mahomes. A brutal collision during the Divisional game left Mahomes with a concussion, and now there are several pressing questions: will Mahomes play? If so, will he be at 100%?

Even without Mahomes, the Chiefs defense was solid overall against the Browns. The defense started to bend a little too much in the second half as the Browns mounted a furious comeback, but most importantly the defense did not break. The mere three points the Chiefs offense scored in the second half should be of much more concern. The Chiefs offense needs to battle the full sixty minutes if they wish to topple the ascendant Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills desperately want a Super Bowl title to erase the pain of the 1990s, and this year is likely going to be one of their best shots to do so. Once Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs turn on the jets, the Bills offense is unstoppable. That said, sluggishness during the Wild Card match nearly doomed the Bills to a one-and-done exit, and the Bills will need all their strength, all their power to dethrone the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Bills defense saved the day against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card game, and then turned into a brick wall against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional round. 

Two teams, very evenly matched.

This is going to be a close one. A very close one.

Prediction: Bills win, 28-27.

Result: Chiefs win, 38-24.

Comments after the game: 

The long-suffering Buffalo Bills will spend another year without knowing the glory and beauty of victory.

The Bills had a good start, jumping out to a 9-0 lead, but the Chiefs turned on the jets and never looked back. Patrick Mahomes is clearly at full strength, and the Chiefs air and ground attacks shredded though the Bills defensive ranks with ease. Defensively, the Chiefs pass coverage utterly neutralized the Bills passing attack, preventing the Bills from getting much momentum.

It is indeed a disappointing end, Buffalo, but fear not. Your window of opportunity remains open. You'll be back, and one day, you too will know absolute victory.

But for now, the Kansas City Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl for the second straight year!

NFC

#1 Green Bay Packers vs. #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A top seed versus a much lower seed. A match-up that should be lopsided in favor of the number one seed. That is, until you realize the lower seed has Tom Brady.

The Green Bay Packers have been frustrated for much of the 2010s. After winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers have failed to return the Super Bowl, and since that title game have played in and lost three NFC Championship games (vs the Seahawks in 2014, vs the Falcons in 2016, and vs the 49ers in 2019). The Packers are clearly a talented squad, but have frequently fallen just short in recent years.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, have been in the bitterly cold wilderness for nearly twenty years following their lone title victory in Super Bowl XXXVII. Before the 2020-21 season, the Buccaneers only made the playoffs twice: in 2005 and 2007, both runs ending with one-and-done performances. The Buccaneers spent year after year after year in the darkness, away from the light of playoff victory.

This year, things will be different for at least one of these teams.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers finished the season 13-3 for the second year in a row, and easily toppled the Los Angeles Rams for the chance to compete once again in an NFC Championship game. A high octane offense has fueled the Packers' path to victory, but the Packers' most lopsided loss this season was inflicted at the hands of none other than Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers faced a tougher fight to the Championship, first defeating Washington in the Wild Card game before decimating Drew Brees and the New Orleans Turnovers Saints in the Divisional game. Tom Brady, Gronk, and the rest of the Buccaneers offense are on a roll, and the Buccaneers defense has held strong throughout the playoffs.

Once again, we have two very evenly matched teams.

Once again, this is going to be a close one.

Prediction: Buccaneers win, 35-31.

Result: Buccaneers win, 31-26.

Comments after the game: 


Total chaos.

The Buccaneers started strong but crumbled in the second half, Tom Brady throwing three interceptions and allowing Aaron Rodgers to spend plenty of time on the field. Indeed, the Packers mounted a furious comeback in the third quarter, exploiting every weakness the Buccaneers presented. 

But the comeback was all for nothing thanks to an exceptionally abysmal play call decision by the Packers. Down 31-23, the Packers are down by one score and it's fourth down. What do the Packers do? 

Kick a field goal. And then give the ball right back to Tom Brady.

That won't come back to haunt the Packers!

Oh wait, it did.

A mind-boggling play call dooms the Packers to yet another NFC Championship defeat. Green Bay, this was entirely avoidable. Even if you went for it on fourth down and failed, at least the history books would recognize you played to win instead of settling for a game-losing field goal! Alas, you have chosen failure.

The Buccaneers return to the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly twenty years, while Tom Brady returns to the Super Bowl for the first time in two years! As if that's not enough, the Buccaneers will be the first NFL team to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2020-21 NFL playoff predictions (Part 2 - Divisional)

Welcome to part 2 of my 2020-21 NFL playoff predictions! Five for six on my Wild Card predictions. Not too bad, indeed.

BUT WHY DID THE ONE MISS HAVE TO BE THE SEAHAWKS GAME AAAAAAAAAAAAAA


Anyway. On to the Divisional round predictions.

AFC 

#1 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #6 Cleveland Browns
 
The Browns are flying high after an incredible upset win over their long-time rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. One quarter of total destruction unleashed by the Browns utterly condemned the Steelers to their doom. The Steelers charged through the season 11-0 but then dropped five of six, ending the playoffs one and done. If the Browns are truly a dangerous force in the AFC, they face the ultimate challenge next.
 
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions, are eager for a second straight Super Bowl. The Chiefs are by far the league's most dangerous team, ready to bulldoze any and all opposition who stands in their way.
 
Could the Browns pull off another upset? Perhaps. If anything, the Browns should avoid jumping out to a lead of any kind too early; Mahomes has a habit of orchestrating incredible comeback wins, whether in the Divisional, the Championship, or in the Super Bowl itself. The Browns have likely met their match this time.
 
Prediction: Chiefs win, 35-24.
 
Result: Chiefs win, 22-17.
 
Comments after the game:
 

Talk about danger close.
 
The first half was all Chiefs, who built up a 19-3 lead at half. A controversial helmet-to-helmet non-call cost the Browns a touchdown.
 
In the second half, however, the Chiefs suffered a catastrophic setback: Patrick Mahomes took a big hit and immediately had trouble standing up on his own, exhibiting the symptoms of a concussion. The worst case scenario for the Chiefs. The Browns mounted a comeback, but the Chiefs never broke completely, able to survive with backup quarterback Chad Henne.

No shame in losing to the reigning Super Bowl champions, Browns. Your team has finally seen the sunlight after spending decades in the dark. You'll be back.

As for the Chiefs, they survive, but at what cost? If Mahomes cannot play in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs face the potentially daunting task of fighting against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs will hope Mahomes can recover, but there's no telling for sure with a concussion.

In any event, the AFC path to the Super Bowl will go through Arrowhead Stadium!
 
***
 
#2 Buffalo Bills vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens

If any close battles happen this weekend, the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens matchup is it. Two incredibly talented quarterbacks on each side of the field, each with a balanced attack, each gunning for one of the coveted spots in the AFC Championship.

Josh Allen and the Bills struggled to hold back the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card battle, but the Bills ultimately prevailed and stopped the comeback. The Ravens, meanwhile, utterly neutralized the Tennessee Titans' primary weapon, the king, the tank, the one known as Derrick Henry. Lamar Jackson was as dangerous as ever, shredding the Titans defense with an unstoppable ground attack.

Two evenly matched teams, but only one will survive and advance to the AFC Championship. It will be a close one.

Prediction: Bills win, 34-31.

Result: Bills win, 17-3.

Comments after the game:

Well then.

The first half of this game can be summarized with one GIF:


Only two drives in the first half resulting in scoring, and both times they ended with field goals. 3-3 heading into halftime. Everyone in the NFL had a terrifying and coma-inducing flashback to Super Bowl LIII.

The second half, however, can be summarized with this incredible secret footage of the Baltimore Ravens:


Every possible thing that could have gone wrong for the Ravens went wrong.

In fact, it started even before the second half. Justin Tucker missed two field goals thanks to high winds in Buffalo, leaving six points on the table. Lamar Jackson threw a devastating pick six, a 101-yard return for a Bills touchdown. A botched snap just like the first play in the Browns-Steelers Wild Card game ended with Lamar Jackson suffering a concussion. Quite possibly one of the worst halves of a playoff game the Baltimore Ravens have ever played. To call it a catastrophe is an understatement. For the second year in a row, the Ravens implode in the Divisional round.

The Bills advance to the AFC Championship for the first time in 27 years!

NFC

#1 Green Bay Packers vs. #6 Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams had the benefit of battling a suddenly incompetent Seattle Seahawks squad in the Wild Card round. The Rams defense had no problems neutralizing an ineffective offense, and the Seahawks defense was also decimated with ease.

This time, however, the Rams face a far more daunting challenge: the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are a far more complete squad ready to face any threat. Aaron Rodgers will face a battered Rams team with Jared Goff and now Aaron Donald not at full strength. 

Short of a January miracle at Lambeau Field, the Rams will run right into a brick wall.

Prediction: Packers win, 41-21.

Result: Packers win, 32-18.

Comments after the game:

No surprises here. The Rams kept it close for much of the game, but they fell silent in the fourth quarter and allowed the Packers to put the game out of reach. For the second straight year, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will play in the NFC Championship.

The NFC path to the Super Bowl will go through Lambeau Field!

#2 New Orleans Saints vs. #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is it. Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady. The final battle. The duel of the fates. The Super Bowl we should have had two years ago.

Alas, instead of a Super Bowl meeting, Drew Brees and Tom Brady meet in the Divisional round. This is likely the final battle between these two legendary quarterbacks.

The New Orleans Saints met the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice this season, and the Saints won both games handily (34-23 and 38-3). The Saints enter this battle having barely broken a sweat against a listless Chicago Bears squad, while the Buccaneers sent the last tank standing back to Washington. 

The Saints are on a mission for redemption, and they'll blast a cannon ball into the Buccaneers' ship if that's what it takes. Brady will fight to the end, but it won't be enough against a relentless Saints squad. Chalk up another loss for Brady. A close loss, but still a loss.

Prediction: Saints win, 31-28.

Result: Buccaneers win, 30-20.

Comments after the game:

WELCOME ONE, WELCOME ALL TO THE 2021 FUMBLE BOWL! 

THIS INCREDIBLE COMPETITION FEATURES THE ETERNAL DISAPPOINTMENT OF DREW BREES AND THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS! 

INCREDIBLE TALENT WASTED YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR!

THE GLORY DAYS OF 2009 ARE LITTLE MORE THAN A DISTANT MEMORY AMID A DECADE OF DESPAIR!

IN ANOTHER CRUCIAL PLAYOFF GAME, THIS IS THE BEST DREW BREES COULD MUSTER:

YOUR FUTURE IS BLEAK, NEW ORLEANS.

THE SAINTS HAVE WASTED FAR TOO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR FAR TOO MUCH TIME.

THE LOUD NOISE YOU HEAR IS THE SOUND OF YOUR PLAYOFF WINDOW SLAMMING SHUT.

THE DARK AGES ARE TRULY UPON YOU NOW.

Monday, January 4, 2021

2020-21 NFL Playoff Predictions (Part 1 - Wild Card)

Happy New Year! As a new year begins and we leave 2020 behind, it’s time for my annual NFL playoff predictions. This post will focus on the Wild Card games; future posts will predict the outcomes of the Divisional and Championship games, and eventually the Super Bowl.

Important note: the NFL has slightly changed its playoff format. There are now fourteen teams in the playoffs instead of twelve. Only the highest seed in each conference receives a first-round bye.

Let’s go.

First round byes

#1 Kansas City Chiefs

#1 Green Bay Packers

AFC

#2 Buffalo Bills vs. #7 Indianapolis Colts

There are two incredibly dangerous teams in the AFC. One is the Kansas City Chiefs, and the other is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills scored the most points of any team in the AFC, and league-wide are second only to the Green Bay Packers. The red-hot Bills enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak, concluding their regular season with an absolute demolition of the Miami Dolphins. The Bills are sick of being the team of memes, enduring constant reminders of the four straight failed Super Bowl runs in the 1990s.

The Indianapolis Colts enjoyed a relatively successful 11-5 season, but of concern is that only three of their wins came from teams currently in the playoffs. Can the Colts withstand the seemingly unstoppable Buffalo Bills?

Answer: No.

Prediction: Bills win, 42-21.

Result: Bills win, 27-24.

Comments after the game:

A lopsided affair, this was not.

The Colts held their own against a sluggish Bills squad, but three key failures doomed the Colts: a failed two-point conversion, a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs after an incomplete touchdown pass. Too many points left on the table.

The Bills defense buckled many times today, but Josh Allen and the offense ensured the team would live to fight another day. The last time the Bills won a Wild Card game? 1995.

The Bills advance to the Divisional round to face the Baltimore Ravens!

 ***

#3 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #6 Cleveland Browns

Want to feel old? The last time the Cleveland Browns were in the playoffs, Windows XP was the hottest new operating system. Is this the redemption arc for the Cleveland Browns? After years of failure, years of disappointment, is it finally time for the Browns to become a formidable force in the AFC? The Browns must begin to answer these questions with a duel against their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What’s the deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers? The Steelers opened 11-0, only to drop four of their last five games in embarrassing fashion. The Steelers have no momentum heading into the playoffs, and they face an upstart Browns team eager to prove itself in the playoffs.

A rout by either team seems unlikely, but an upset is certainly possible.

Prediction: Browns win, 24-21.

Result: Browns win, 48-37.

Comments after the game: 

What just happened?

What.

JUST.

HAPPENED?!

Here's a team, the Cleveland Browns, who went into this game dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that left the team shorthanded. By all accounts on paper, the Browns season faced almost certain doom. How can a depleted team like that go up against a probable Super Bowl favorite, the Pittsburgh Steelers?

With the odds stacked against them and destiny hanging in the balance, the Browns entered Heinz Field for their first playoff game in eighteen years. How did the game begin? Let's take a look at the replay at Heinz Field and -

Oh.

Oh my.

The Browns unleashed Armageddon in a first quarter that will be burned into the psyches of Steelers fans for years to come. Six seconds - it took all of six seconds for the Steelers to collapse. One botched snap that triggered terrible Super Bowl XLVIII flashbacks for Denver Broncos fans set the tone immediately, except this time the botched snap led to a Browns touchdown. And the implosion continued from there.

Ben Roethlisburger severely struggled, throwing four interceptions despite ultimately throwing four touchdowns. The Steelers found momentum in the second half, but the Browns inflicted just enough further damage to keep the game out of reach.

Of all the Wild Card games this weekend, the Browns-Steelers shootout will be long remembered.

The Browns advance to the Divisional round to face the Kansas City Chiefs!

 ***

#4 Tennessee Titans vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens

Rematch time.

Last year, the Titans stunned the Ravens and the NFL with a shocking upset victory in the Divisional round. Now the Titans and Ravens meet again, this time in the Wild Card round.

The Titans got bored of going 9-7 all the time, so they decided to go 11-5 instead and win the AFC South. Derrick Henry continues to be the Titans’ primary weapon, the flaming bowling ball plowing through bowling pin defenses. The Titans are not invincible, however. An embarrassing 14-40 loss against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 proves there is definitely weakness in the Titans defense.

The Ravens are no longer the 14-2 juggernaut of last season, but they enter the playoffs on a five-game winning streak, having demolished all opposition. Lamar Jackson has returned to full strength, leading the Ravens to heights not seen since last season.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on one side, and Derrick Henry and the Titans on the other. Prepare for war.

Prediction: Ravens win, 38-35.

Result: Ravens win, 20-13.

Comments after the game:

We turn now to live footage of the Tennessee Titans looking for Derrick Henry:

The Titans ground attack was completely neutralized today by the Ravens defense. Lamar Jackson instead spearheaded a fierce Ravens ground attack that pierced the Titans defense. A late interception thrown by the Titans all but guaranteed a Ravens victory. The Ravens have now avenged last year's upset loss against the Titans.

The Ravens advance to the Divisional round to face the Buffalo Bills!

NFC

#2 New Orleans Saints vs. #7 Chicago Bears

This could very well be Drew Brees’s last chance for a second Super Bowl ring. If all goes as planned, this will certainly not be the final game these playoffs for the New Orleans Saints. Year after year, the Saints have fallen short. Maybe, just maybe, this year is the year Drew Brees finally extinguishes the painful memories of years past and claims his second ring.

Brees’s dream won’t likely die in this game. The Bears started the season with a strong 5-1 record, only to disintegrate with a six-game losing streak and fall to 8-8. To call the Bears’ hopes a long shot is quite the understatement.

Prediction: Saints win, 42-14.

Result: Saints win, 21-9.

Comments after the game: 

We turn now to live footage of the Chicago Bears:

This game's outcome was never really in doubt. The Bears were badly outmatched by an aggressive Saints squad on a mission to avenge all the failures of years past. A last second touchdown by the Bears meant nothing.

The Saints advance to the Divisonal round to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
 

 ***

#3 Seattle Seahawks vs. #6 Los Angeles Rams

When the Seattle Seahawks are firing on all cylinders, they’re damn near unstoppable. Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and the rest of the Seahawks offense are clearly capable, but consistency has been a problem, especially after the bye week. The loss to the Giants was especially embarrassing.

The Rams must also deal with their own problems, mainly being the potential loss of Jared Goff, who has not played since a serious thumb injury while playing against the Seahawks in Week 16. Still, with or without Goff, the Rams couldn’t break the Seahawks defense in that game. The Rams cannot count on Aaron Donald to do all the defensive work while the offense offers nothing. Without any improvements on offense, the Rams will fold quickly.

Prediction: Seahawks win, 28-10.

Result: Rams win, 30-20.

Comments after the game:

Useless muppets.

By far and away, this was the worst Seahawks performance in years. The offense performed as well, if not worse, than a clogged toilet. The defense performed no better, allowing far too many points given that the Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, just had surgery on his throwing hand.

The Seahawks need to fire their offensive and defensive coordinators immediately. The play calling was utterly abysmal and unworthy of even a pre-season game, let alone a post-season game.

The Rams advance to the Divisional round to face the Green Bay Packers.

 ***

#4 Washington Football Team vs. #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The New England Patriots dynasty may be over, but Tom Brady is just getting warmed up. Tom Brady has propelled the Buccaneers to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Buccaneers have been a formidable force all season, with their only lopsided losses coming against the New Orleans Saints. If there is a dark horse in the NFC, Brady, Gronk, and the Buccaneers are that force. Still looks weird not seeing Brady and Gronk in Patriots uniforms.

The Bucs’ Wild Card opponent hails from a fabled land of turmoil, when dreams of victory have been eclipsed by shadows of defeat. A maelstrom of misery where there is no glory, only mediocrity at best. Where there is no success, only chaos.

Behold: The NFC East!

The Washington [name redacted] emerge victorious from one of the worst NFC Easts in recent memory. Washington’s hopes increased after a stronger second half of the season, but the first half was a tsunami of failure. Against Tom Brady? That's not a tsunami, that's an imminent asteroid impact.

Prediction: Buccaneers win, 35-17.

Result: Buccaneers win, 31-23.

Comments after the game:

Not quite the anticipated rout, but still, no surprises here. Washington was a long shot to win against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but the battle was never truly over until late in the fourth quarter. Washington just didn't have that late game magic to finish the comeback.

Alas, Tank Division is no more.


The Buccaneers advance to the Divisional round to face the New Orleans Saints!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Super Bowl LIV Aftermath

Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV, 31-20


We turn now to live footage of the Kansas City Chiefs:


That must mean something great happened! All right, let's turn to live footage of the San Francisco 49ers:

Oh dear.

The 2019-20 NFL season has concluded with the Kansas City Chiefs emerging victorious over the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20! This Super Bowl was a massive improvement over last year's lifeless debacle between the Patriots and the Rams. The game was action-packed and tense all the way to the end.

The first half was a relatively balanced affair with each team trading touchdowns and field goals, entering halftime tied at 10-10. The 49ers rushing attack was a potent threat, as expected, and the Chiefs offense kept pace under the leadership of Patrick Mahomes.

In the third quarter, the momentum shifted entirely towards the 49ers. Mahomes threw two ugly interceptions, the first eventually being converted into a 49ers touchdown. The Chiefs were in tatters, and the 49ers, up 20-10, seemed likely to emerge victorious in the Super Bowl for the first time in twenty-five years. Right? It's not like anything could possibly go wrong when the 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, was the primary architect of the 28-3 debacle during Super Bowl LI. Right? Right?


The 49ers forgot that Patrick Mahomes has spearheaded comebacks throughout these playoffs; why should the Super Bowl be any exception? The Chiefs launched into overdrive in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Touchdown after touchdown after touchdown. Twenty-one unanswered points. The 49ers tried to respond.

Keyword: tried. But without success. It took all of one quarter for the 49ers to implode and doom the city of San Francisco to another year without a Super Bowl victory. It took all of one quarter for the Chiefs to ascend from darkness after fifty long years and bask in the light of Super Bowl victory.

The Kansas City Chiefs are your Super Bowl LIV champions!

The Chiefs leaves Miami with their first Super Bowl win in fifty years, while the 49ers return to California empty-handed.

One drought ends, and another endures.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

2019-20 NFL Playoff Predictions (Part 4 - Super Bowl)


This is it. The last showdown. The final battle. The duel of the fates. The Super Bowl. Many battles have been won and lost this season, but the war will be won and lost in Miami. Only two teams remain, and they will face off in Miami for Super Bowl LIV: 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers 


Finally, a Super Bowl without New England.

The story of Super Bowl LIV is one of droughts. The Chiefs last won the Super Bowl in 1970, when they won Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings. This victory remains the Chiefs’ only Super Bowl title, having failed to reach the big game in half a century – until now.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have a drought of their own: they have five Super Bowl titles to their name, but total victory has been absent for twenty-five years. Before 2020, they last played for the Super Bowl in 2013, when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII – this was the also the first time the 49ers lost a Super Bowl game.

One drought will end while the other will endure. But who will lift the Lombardi Trophy? Let’s look at each team.

How the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl
The Chiefs finished 12-4 at second in the AFC thanks to the last-minute intervention of the Miami Dolphins. A slew of injuries plagued the Chiefs through the middle of the season, resulting in the team dropping four of their six games between Weeks 5 and 10. After that struggle, the Chiefs finished the season with a six-game winning streak and rode the momentum straight into the playoffs.

The Divisional game’s first quarter was apocalyptic for the Chiefs, and even that is an understatement. Every conceivable thing that could have gone wrong went wrong, plunging the team into a 24-0 hole against the Houston Texans. Patrick Mahomes simply shrugged, accepted the challenged, and led the Chiefs’ offense to score 41 points unanswered, demolishing the Texans 51-31.

The AFC Championship was nowhere near as bad for the Chiefs, but the team still fell behind 17-7 against the Tennessee Titans. Patrick Mahomes didn’t break a sweat and led the Chiefs’ offense again to score 28 points unanswered, toppling the Titans 35-24. The Arrowhead Curse is truly dead.

How the Chiefs can win the Super Bowl
The Chiefs have waited fifty years for this moment, and they will not let this opportunity slip away so easily. Patrick Mahomes is the key to any Chiefs victory; he is the juggernaut who shreds defenses and scores touchdown after touchdown. The offense needs to break through the 49ers’ iron wall and score touchdowns on every drive; the Chiefs must continue to build on the momentum they've developed since the second quarter of the AFC Divisional game. The more pressing question is whether the Chiefs’ defense can withstand the 49ers’ relentless attacks on the ground and in the air; the defense will face their toughest test on this day.

How the 49ers reached the Super Bowl
The 49ers finished 13-3 at first in the NFC, a remarkable rebound after a 4-12 season last year. Aside from a trio of losses in the regular season, the 49ers have dominated the NFC. When the 49ers did lose, it was never by more than one score. Through a superbly balanced offense and defense, the 49ers used their strength to overrun the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the Divisional round before demolishing the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship. Twenty-five years of disappointment is enough for San Francisco; they want the Lombardi Trophy and tie the record for most Super Bowls – six – held by the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

How the 49ers can win the Super Bowl
The 49ers defense needs to swarm Mahomes before he can unleash his power. Neutralize Mahomes quickly and the 49ers will instantly become the favorites to win the game. Once Mahomes is off the field, the 49ers need to use every weapon at their disposal to overcome the Chiefs’ defense. The rushing attack is clearly the 49ers’ main weapon, so Raheem Mostert need only unleash the same relentless attack as he did against the Packers. Even if the rushing attack encounters issues, the 49ers can easily fall back on their passing attack. No room for errors, however; an interception or turnover could swing the momentum back in the Chiefs’ favor. The 49ers need to continue their dominant play if they hope to win in Miami.

FINAL PREDICTION


This will be a high-scoring affair, a stark contrast from last year’s insomnia-curing Super Bowl LIII. The 49ers’ combined attacks from the ground and the air will overwhelm the Chiefs’ defense, but Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense will unleash every attack possible to prevent this game from becoming a lopsided affair. This will truly be a ferocious battle, and only one will survive.

And it will be San Francisco.

49ers win, 49-45