February 8, 2024

The Post Predicts: Super Bowl 58

A statistical breakdown from both sides of the ball

The Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs need no introduction. Since Patrick Mahomes made his first NFL start, the Chiefs are 73-22 in the regular season and 14-3 in the playoffs. Kansas City has been to six straight AFC Championship games, winning four of those games along with two Super Bowls.

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are among the greatest of all time at their respective positions with each passing week, and in case you haven’t seen, Kelce is dating the world’s biggest pop star.

It is easy to point to the many reasons why Kansas City will win Sunday. The Chiefs have been to the Big Game in the past, even beating the 49ers in Super Bowl 54. Mahomes is by far the best in the sport, regardless of position, and his defense has played phenomenally in the playoffs, holding Lamar Jackson to just 10 points in the AFC Championship game.

There is more to look at than just Kansas City’s personnel and some of the data points that favor it over San Fransico in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday. With the rise of advanced stats in recent years, data that takes a deeper dive into why the Chiefs are successful is more available.

After Mahomes posted his highest interception and second-lowest passing yard totals of his career during the regular season, the two-time MVP has stepped up his game to new levels in this year’s postseason. Expected points added, or EPA, gives insight into how many points a quarterback adds to his team per dropback. Mahomes ranked 10th in the statistic with a regular season .07 EPA per dropback. In the playoffs, that number has quadrupled to a staggering .28 EPA per dropback.

The improvement of Mahomes’ stats comes at the right time for the Chiefs, who have made their fourth Super Bowl of the Mahomes era despite having the worst regular season record since Mahomes took over. Additionally, they have had to go on the road to Buffalo and Baltimore in the last two weeks to make it back to the biggest stage. The Divisional game in Buffalo was the first non-Super Bowl playoff game on the road that Mahomes has played in his career.

49ers quarterback Brock Purdy finished the regular season leading all quarterbacks in various statistics such as passer rating, EPA per dropback and total quarterback EPA. However, since the postseason has begun, Purdy’s EPA per dropback has been cut drastically, going from .26 EPA per dropback in the regular season to just .12 EPA per dropback.

It has been shown time and time again that quarterback play wins Super Bowls, and Purdy’s play as of late has not been elite, especially when compared to Mahomes’ goliath numbers on the other sideline.

For the defensive side of the ball, both teams are neck and neck in many categories, but Kansas City has the edge. Kansas City led the league in sacks this season and finished second in points allowed and second in yards allowed. In the playoffs so far, the Chiefs have allowed 11 fewer points than the 49ers even though they played an extra game. The Chiefs' defense is red hot right now, coming off an all-time performance against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Kansas City forced three turnovers, four sacks and held Baltimore to just 3-11 on third down.

The 49ers on the other hand are coming off an NFC Championship game that saw the Lions outgain the 49ers while putting up 31 points on them as well.

Super Bowl 58 is going to be a great match-up, but the two teams are coming into the game playing different types of football. Kansas City has been the better team since the postseason started, and I expect the trends to continue with Kansas City winning its third Super Bowl in five years.

Score Prediction: Kansas City 27, San Francisco 17

Charlie Fadel is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Charlie know by emailing or tweeting him at @CharlieFadel or cf111322@ohio.edu.

EDITOR: Alex Imwalle

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

ILLUSTRATION: Alaina Dackermann


February 8, 2024

The Post Predicts: Super Bowl 58

A statistical breakdown from both sides of the ball

The San Francisco 49ers

Arguably one of the most successful franchise in football history is back in the exact spot it was in four years ago: playing for a Super Bowl against Kansas City. However, so much has changed in the nearly 1,470 days since the two heavyweights last met.

The 49ers experienced a disappointing 2020 season that saw them win only six games. They quickly responded by achieving back-to-back NFC Championship game appearances in which they fell short to the Rams and Eagles.

However, this season there is a more confident vibe around San Francisco. Watching them play all season long, it is clear they are more dangerous than the team that faced the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

From the Week 1 domination of the Steelers all the way to the team’s eighth Conference Championship, it feels like this could be the year that the 28-year drought will end. That feeling stems largely from what Kyle Shanahan has put in place over the last seven seasons.

The Shanahan family name has historically surrounded the Super Bowl. Kyle’s father Mike Shanahan won back-to-back titles with the Denver Broncos in 1998 and 1999.

Kyle first made it to the big game as the Atlanta offensive coordinator in 2016. After the 2016 run, Kyle Shanahan was hired by San Francisco and he has been there ever since, leading the 49ers to their seventh (2020) and eighth (2024) Super Bowl appearances.

The 49ers offense has been one of the NFL’s most intricate since Shanahan’s takeover in 2017 but it will have to find a way to crack one of the league’s top-three defenses.

Taking a peek back at the last Super Bowl matchup, the 49ers held a 20-10 lead with 2 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter. However, San Francisco was held scoreless for the remainder of the game, gaining just 49 yards total. The 49ers have to avoid an offensive lull or beating the Chiefs gets exponentially more difficult.

The offense that crumbled under pressure four years ago is also immensely different from the one that will take the field this year. Most notably in the backfield, with Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey

Purdy’s story has been told a million times. The last pick in the 2022 draft, who got a chance with the 49ers, has now been to back-to-back NFC championship appearances and, of course, this year, a trip to the Super Bowl.

When he makes the start Sunday, Purdy (24 years, 46 days) will become the third-youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, behind only Dan Marino (23 years, 127 days) in 1985 and Ben Roethlisberger (23 years, 340 days) in 2006.

His story is almost equally as impressive as the stats he has produced on the field. Purdy has thrown for the fifth-most yards in the NFL this season, while only ranking 16th in completions and 20th in attempts.

Purdy is an efficient passer and has thrown for over 300 yards five times this season and, more importantly, has only been held under 200 yards one time (Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns). Meanwhile, Kansas City hasn’t allowed a 300-yard-passer since Jalen Hurts in the Super Bowl last year.

The other piece of the San Francisco backfield, arguably more valuable, is Christian McCaffrey. When the 49ers made the trade for McCaffrey mid-season last year, everything changed. The team added another dynamic weapon to its already elite offensive arsenal.

What McCaffrey does for the San Francisco offense is crucial to beating Kansas City. According to Pro Football Reference, McCaffrey was tied for the fifth-best approximate value.

Although it has had some faults so far through the postseason, the San Francisco offense is still undeniably one of the most dangerous in football. Yet, the defense has also been remarkable, consistently making big plays in every game.

The 49ers are the third-best scoring defense, third-best rush defense and the 14th-best pass defense.

And when the team needs a big play, they seem to have a knack for finding it. The defensive unit is tied for the league lead with 22 interceptions and tied for the seventh-most sacks. Nick Bosa led the 49ers defensive line with 10.5 sacks, but 16 players recorded at least one sack in the regular season. In the playoffs, Bosa has the only two sacks the 49ers have recorded.

A major part of the path to a victory for the 49ers is to continue to get a consistent pass rush without blitzing. San Francisco blitzed on just 18% of plays in the regular season, the third-lowest rate in the NFL. Yet, they were still one of the best teams at getting to the opposing quarterback.

If the 49ers are still able to get a rush against the Chiefs without blitzing, that will allow them to commit more players to covering the passes of Patrick Mahomes, a necessity for defeating the Chiefs.

Finally, San Francisco has an X-factor in Kyle Juszczyk — one of the most intriguing players in the NFL. No offense uses a fullback like the 49ers do, and that could lead to Juszczyk making a huge impact.

The Chiefs are going to be focused on slowing down the many other weapons. So, Juszczyk, who only had three receptions in the last Super Bowl, may be the game-changing factor for the 49ers

Although the Chiefs have defied the odds again and made it back to the Super Bowl, this matchup may be too much to handle. The 49ers have a deeper roster with more explosive pieces that give them the edge in this highly anticipated Super Bowl.

Score Prediction: San Francisco 30, Kansas City 27

Andrew Bowlby is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Charlie know by emailing or tweeting him at @andrew_bowlby.

EDITOR: Alex Imwalle

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

ILLUSTRATION: Alaina Dackermann