Super Bowl should prove to be the ultimate test
How do you pick the winner of this year’s Super Bowl?
Of course, if you’re a fan of the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s easy — just go with your heart.
But for the rest of us — at least for me — I’m really having a hard time figuring out which of the four main parts of these teams will assert themselves most.
Will the Chiefs just run wild on San Fran’s near top-of-the-league defense? Or will a more modest 49ers offense have a field day against a KC “D” that often looks like even those commercials for Flex Tape — you know, with the boat made entirely of glass — couldn’t make the needed repairs.
Here’s one way I’ve been trying to boil down this game — unless something unusual happens like a fumble on a kickoff or punt or a successful onside kick, each team gets an equal number of possessions in the game.
Now maybe KC would like to see each team get 20 possessions and will try to make that happen with a bunch of two- and three-possession drives, even ones that go the length of the field.
San Fran might like the total in the game to be closer to 20 total — in other words, 10 or maybe even less for each team.
Before I go much further, let me make this my “official” analysis of the game:
Super Bowl, NFC No. 1 San Francisco 49ers (15-3) vs. AFC No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (14-4), 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox — So how does analyzing possessions help pick the winner?
Easy, unless one team decides to kick off to start both halves or gets that extra possession at the end of one half that the other doesn’t get in the other half, possessions should come out equal.
I don’t have a strong enough feeling about the special teams of either team to knock this equal-possession theory for a loop.
So who does the most with the chances they have?
Immediately, I think San Fran will as KC generally plays a higher-risk, higher-reward offense. That means while they cash in a lot of touchdowns, there’s sometimes interceptions or fumbles that derail them big time.
But here’s the problem with the plodding run game that the 49ers have used this postseason: it might move down the field with almost maddening efficiency — until it doesn’t.
When the Chiefs face 1st-and-25 or 3rd-and-15, no sweat — just throw it 27 or 17 or however many yards are needed to move the chains.
But how often can you count on running plays to gain those 15 yards in one play or even 25 in three?
Tennessee couldn’t do it against the Chiefs with enough consistency.
And no matter how much you’re married to your run game, will you stick with it if you fall behind 28-10 in the third quarter?
One other thing is that football isn’t like soccer or baseball where each score counts one. No, a TD is worth basically double, or slightly more, than a field goal.
How many times have you seen a team kick four field goals and score two TDs — that’s six total scores — and lose to the team with five scores, but all of them TDs?
That makes for a final score of 35-26 in favor of the team with fewer scores.
And doesn’t it seem like it’s almost always the plodding run team that is the one kicking all those field goals?
I’m going to kind of bail out on my prediction, and pick the winner based on which team has the least wiggle room for letdowns and mistakes — and that the 49ers.
So in a rather wild one, I’ll pick the Chiefs, 40-36.
Two weeks ago — 1-1, 50 percent. Playoff total — 6-4, 60 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.