Shortly after the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game, the betting lines opened for the Super Bowl. When the numbers hit, the Kansas City Chiefs were not the favorites to win Super Bowl LVIII. That remains today, but the narrative as to why is shifting in favor of Mahomes and company.
They say one player alone does not win a Super Bowl, that it takes a team, and let’s be honest, a lucky ball bounce or two. Still, when you have the NFL’s best player, Patrick Mahomes, and you made it to the Super Bowl in his worst statistical season as a starter, I could see why he might be the underdog – if Tom Brady was the opposing quarterback.
Brock Purdy is a good quarterback, and his journey from Mr. Irrelevant to starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers playing in the Super Bowl in year two of his career is mighty impressive.
Unfortunately, he must do it against the NFL’s best defense and a two-time Super Bowl Champion Head Coach and Quarterback. The combination of Andy Reid and Mahomes is genuinely remarkable. That combination over the last six years with a Bye in the postseason is 6-1. The only loss was Super Bowl LV, where so much went wrong against the Chiefs. That day, Brady was the best player and quarterback on the field.
The disparity with the point spread makes no sense. I can’t think of a position on the field that is better than the Chiefs as a group. That doesn’t mean the 49ers don’t have some flash players, but if you dive into the group overall, the Chiefs roster is better.
So, does it matter? To the 49ers, it might, but not to the Chiefs. They enjoy being the Villains in this game and throughout the playoffs. They’ve already taken down the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and the Baltimore Ravens, the best trio of teams the AFC had to offer in stopping the Chief’s drive to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
The 49ers have that task Sunday, but the AFC preparation for the Chief’s run this postseason easily surpasses San Francisco’s path to get to Las Vegas. The 49ers squeaked by the Green Bay Packers and were the benefactors of some horrific coaching by the Detroit Lions to win the NFC title game at home.
Yes, Purdy led a pair of impressive comebacks, but you can’t argue without the tipped pass to Aiyuk, the Lions turnover in 49ers territory, and the failed fourth down plays. Does San Francisco win that game?
Not a chance!
Yet, oddsmakers don’t see it that way. They look at the season overall and ignore the greatness of Mahomes and the historic five-year Super Bowl run he’s delivered since winning his first in 2019.
If the comparisons to Mahomes are accurate, Purdy has a chance to prove to all those doubting him that he’s the best quarterback in the NFL. Let’s be clear; the best quarterback in any given NFL season is the one hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
The Chiefs have graciously obliged the media to play the underdog role and second fiddle to the 49ers. They’ve embraced during every press conference leading up to this game.
On the Chiefs Blitz Podcast earlier today, we discussed what super or anti-hero character would best describe a Chiefs player. When you think of Mahomes, the Grim Reaper fits; for Brock Purdy, finding a match is harder.
Even though both teams have some fantastic players and probably a few future Hall of Famers, this game is about the quarterbacks.
One is chasing history (Mahomes); the other (Purdy) is chasing respectability that he belongs in the Super Bowl club. The reality is one will fail, and the other will succeed.