After a 50 year Super Bowl drought, the Chiefs have finally made it back to the big stage. They suffered a heartbreaking AFC Championship loss last year, but this year the Chiefs had an exciting playoff run. They came back from being down 21-0 to beat the Texans by 20 and then beat the Titans after going down 10-0 early. Today I will be previewing the Chiefs’ keys to victory.
All throughout these playoffs, the Chiefs have started all their games slow. They fell behind 21-0 against the Texans early but ended the game on a 51-10 run to win. In the conference championship, they fell behind 10-0 early but ended up winning 35-24. Against the 49ers, they cannot go down early. The 49ers have the best running game in the NFL. By starting slow, they allow the 49ers to play into their strength which is running the ball. By starting fast, they will force the 49ers away from their strength and will force Garopollo to make plays.
This Chiefs defense has taken huge strides. In the 2018-2019 season, they had the 31st ranked pass defense but this year they have the 8th best pass defense. They have 16 interceptions which is the 5th most in the NFL and have 45 sacks which is ranked 11th. Also, since week 12, the Chiefs have allowed only 10.8 points per game. The only glaring weakness is the run defense, which ranks in the bottom 4 in the league. But since week 12, the Chiefs haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher and give up about 88 rushing yard per game. Also, last week they held star running back Derrick Henry to 69 yards, something many teams struggled to do.
This Chiefs offense, which includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, DeMarcus Robinson, and Damien Williams, is just too explosive. Against the Texans, they tried to eliminate Tyreek Hill but then Kelce had 10 receptions for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns. Against the Titans, they tried to eliminate Kelce but then Hill had 5 receptions for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns. The one consistent receiver here has been Sammy Watkins. Watkins had had 190 receiving yards across both games and is averaging 21.1 yards per reception. This offense is just full of speed and playmakers and its hard to stop. The 49ers defense is ELITE, but has yet to face a team with this many playmakers and speed that Patrick Mahomes has at his disposal.
The 49ers have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, led by Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead. They can rush 4, leaving 7 in the secondary, and still get to the quarterback. While you cannot stop this potent pass rush, the Chiefs need to neutralize it. This Chiefs O-Line has allowed the third-fewest sacks in the NFL with 25. PFF ranked the Chiefs among the best at pass protection. They have allowed just over a sack per game since Week 12. This O-Line is ELITE. Not to mention, when you have an elusive quarterback in Patrick Mahomes under center, it’ll make your job much easier.