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Super Bowl 54 sports staff picks: Chiefs look Super

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers practice for the final time before Super Bowl Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers practice for the final time before Super Bowl Sunday. (2020 Getty Images)


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Super Bowl is Sunday night in Miami. The News4Jax sports staff offers its thoughts on the game between Kansas City and San Francisco.

Justin Barney: Classic storyline. It’s the high-powered Kansas City offense meeting the rock solid defense of San Francisco. Definitely a good cliche. I think the difference here besides the obvious (Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is ridiculously good) is that Kansas City can shut down the run. We saw that in the AFC championship game when it erased running back Derrick Henry from the offense (69 yards on 19 carries). Henry had been on a record-setting rushing pace up until that point. San Francisco’s defense is elite (teams are averaging 252.5 yards per game in the playoffs), but I don’t think it can slow Mahomes and Co. for four quarters. Pick: Kansas City 31, San Francisco 24.

Cole Pepper: Let me start with some full disclosure. Many of you know that I grew up in Kansas City. I cut my teeth covering the NFL reporting on Marty Schottenheimer’s teams that featured a strong running game and a dominant defense. Then, Joe Montana arrived. In two seasons, Montana became the second-best quarterback in Chiefs history (well behind Len Dawson, who led Kansas City to its only championship in Super Bowl IV).

Now, KC boasts the new second-best quarterback in franchise history, Patrick Mahomes. The fastest offense in the NFL and the most explosive passing attack in the league give Andy Reid’s team a chance in any game. That it has been 50 years since the Chiefs played in a Super Bowl has been well-chronicled. Still, what it would mean to the city to have a football title again can’t be overstated. I suspect there will be a lot of KC fans in Miami on Sunday. That being said, the 49ers are not to be dismissed. The Niners featured the fastest running game in the league and a defense that can be dominant. In the modern NFL, it’s not defenses that win championships, it’s great quarterback play. I’ll take Mahomes over Jimmy Garoppolo in a close, exciting game. Pick: Kansas City 31, San Francisco 29.

Jamal St. Cyr: One game between two very different teams. The Chiefs have their high-powered passing offense while the 49ers have a dominant rushing attack. The difference in the game will be the defenses. Steve Spagnuolo and Robert Saleh will both have their hands full. I give the edge to the 49ers. There’s no reason to think the 49ers won’t continue to dominate on the ground. The Chiefs defense was able to slow down the Titans power rushing attack, but the 49ers outside zone is a whole different monster. I think Raheem Mostert has another monster day and will be the Super Bowl MVP. Pick: San Francisco 38, Kansas City 20.


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