What looks like a great matchup on paper is not necessarily shaping up as a great Super Bowl for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. If the San Franciso 49ers win tomorrow night, they will hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the same number of times as the Steelers and Fightin Spygaters. In addition to becoming just the third franchise to win six Super Bowls, they would do so with Brock Purdy, not just the last QB taken in the 2022 NFL Draft (we all know who was the first) but the last player, period.
Kansas City winning might be just as much of a gut punch. The Fightin Swifts would claim their third Super Bowl title since 2019, and their recent dominance would also serve as a stark reminder of how far the Steelers are from the glorious stretches of the 1970s and 2000s.
Alas, one team has to win, so we here at Steelers Depot offer our predictions. Let’s start at the top with site founder and patriarch Dave Bryan. Dave was initially a KC lean due to QB Patrick Mahomes and DC Steve Spagnuolo, not to mention HC Andy Reid and that fella who dates Taylor Swift.
But Dave is nothing if not thorough. And after analyzing the matchup, he now likes the Niners.
“What swayed me to switching to picking the 49ers over the Chiefs these last few weeks were advanced analytics and a trend,” he says. “Most notably, an EPA per drop-back stat posted on X by analytics expert Arjun Menon. In short, that stat and trend that Menon posted about revolves mainly around the Chiefs finishing outside the top 10 in 2023 in offensive EPA per dropback.
“In other words, based on his historical data going back to at least 2018, it would be quite a feat if the Chiefs wound up winning the Super Bowl, especially with the 49ers being the NFL’s best team in EPA per drop back in 2023. On top of that, the 49ers also led the NFL in EPA per rush in 2023.”
Dave predicts a 24-20 49ers win with the added pick — for those poring over prop bets – of RB Christian McCaffrey as MVP. Josh Carney and Adam Miller also like CMC for MVP.
The rest of the Depot crew is somewhat split on the outcome, befitting a game that has such a narrow point spread. Here is who others picked, and please leave your own predictions in the comments.
Brock Purdy is a good quarterback, but in a battle against Patrick Mahomes, it’s no contest. Credit to the Chiefs for reinventing themselves and being able to win in different ways. Their run game and stellar defense are big components of their season success, the team no longer relying on Mahomes to play Superman…Chiefs 24, 49ers 20.
The Chiefs did not have their best season, but Patrick Mahomes is simply too good not to step up in the biggest moments. He is on his way to being the most dominant postseason player in NFL history. Two of the only three times he didn’t finish the job were an overtime loss in which he never touched the ball, and the year he had no offensive line. He has perhaps the best defense he’s ever had this time around, so quarterback play will be the deciding factor. That edge clearly goes to Mahomes over Brock Purdy…Chiefs 24, 49ers 20.
Going against Patrick Mahomes feels like playing chicken – on a tricycle – with an 18-wheeler. I’ll do it anyway. The 49ers easily have the better overall roster, and they haven’t come close to playing a complete game in the postseason. It all comes together in D (ave Bryan) Vegas, and San Fran rolls…49ers 27, Chiefs 16.
Brock Purdy is at the point in his career where everyone has said he’s overrated so much that he’s actually become underrated. Patrick Mahomes is still the best football player alive, but you could probably argue that the 49ers have 10 of the next 12 best players in this game (sans Chris Jones and Travis Kelce). If Kansas City wins, it will be because of a Herculean effort from Mahomes. I’ll take my chances with the better top-to-bottom roster…49ers 28, Chiefs 17.
It’s just hard to pick against Mahomes. While Kansas City’s offense has taken a slight step back this season, its defense has become elite. Both the 49ers and Chiefs are obviously great teams with great play callers and high-end talent, but at the end of the day I think this game comes down to who has the better quarterback…Chiefs 27, 49ers 21.
It is so hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at this point, but that is exactly what I’m going to do. This is the year Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers get it done. They’ll lean heavily on their run game with Christian McCaffrey, which is an area where the Chiefs struggle defensively. Brock Purdy will make just enough plays in the passing game, too, to help the Niners. This should also be a game in which the Niners’ defensive line really gets after Mahomes, especially without starting left guard Joe Thuney. The Chiefs just don’t have the number of weapons to overcome what San Fran can throw at them defensively. Mahomes is that trump card, though. We’ll see if he can do it again…49ers 27, Chiefs 23.
I just can’t bring myself to pick against Patrick Mahomes with how dominant he’s been in the playoffs. The 49ers will keep it close, but a late interception by L’Jarius Sneed seals the deal for Kansas City…Chiefs 27 49ers 21.
For all the ups and downs each of these teams has faced this season, I think we got the best two overall teams in the Super Bowl. San Francisco’s defense is suspect as of late, but the 49ers offense has been up the task in clutch moments. The game goes over the total as San Francisco drives down the field for a game-winning touchdown in the final moments. And Brock Purdy goes from game manager to Super Bowl legend and is named the game’s MVP….49ers 28, Chiefs 24.
Let me put out there that I want the 49ers to win. They have the better overall roster and have two Iowa guys in Brock Purdy and George Kittle. However, I do think Kansas City takes home another Lombardi. The two most important figures in football are the quarterback and head coach, and Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid have that championship experience and ability to come through in crunch time. Throw in some magic by the Swifties out there, and I think you get that fairytale ending with Kansas City winning it all yet again…Chiefs 27, 49ers 24.
The 2023 NFL season played out to perfection, and now we get to see the two best teams face each other on the biggest stage of them all. For me, it comes down to Brock Purdy vs. Patrick Mahomes. And I’ll take Mahomes all day. He will make a play or two (either with his arm or legs) more than Purdy, and K.C. will win it with a late Harrison Butker field goal…Chiefs 34, 49ers 31.
It’s too difficult to bet against Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, especially when he has one of the league’s best defenses supporting him on the other end of things…Chiefs 23, 49ers 20.
If the Steelers are out, I choose to root for the team that has gone the longest without winning. Therefore, I will be rooting for San Francisco. However, it’s hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes, and Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been on a roll, his defense allowing 12 or fewer points in three of the last four games. The Niners jump out early, but the Chiefs make the right adjustments and close it out…Chiefs 27, 49ers 21.
Don’t pump-fake the money shot. San Francisco has been sitting at the head of the NFL table this entire year, and I don’t think that’s changing. The 49ers have my pick for MVP (McCaffrey), a great defense and the best coach in the league. People will point to Brock Purdy as their weakness, but in the Shanahan system, he’s more than enough. While Mahomes is Mahomes, I question the Chiefs’ lack of playmakers. Sorry, Swifties!…49ers 31, Chiefs 21.
These are two high-quality organizations, so I really can’t root against either. If I had to bet on one over the other, it would be the Kansas City Chiefs. The game will be won by the more effective defense, and I believe K.C.’s unit has the right assets for this particular matchup. San Francisco has the better weapons but will have a hard time figuring out the Chiefs. On the other side, the Niners will slow Mahomes down, but he and his crew will eventually find the answers they need…Chiefs 27, 49ers 24.
The 49ers have talent all over the offense, and they will score points. However, with how good the Chiefs’ defense is and with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, it’s just too hard to bet against them…Chiefs 27, 49ers 23.