Perhaps nothing is more important than dealing with facts when in search of truth, and while that seems to be a point of contention in today’s political climate, it is also true when handicapping a sporting event.
If you were to meet an average football fan on the street today, and ask them who they liked in the Super Bowl, they may have reasoning something like this. If the San Francisco 49ers were their choice, they would contend that the 49ers had the better defense. If they landed on the Kansas City Chiefs as their selected winner, they may point to the Chiefs prolific offense.
Would it surprise you to know that the 49ers scored more points than the Chiefs this season both throughout the regular season and adding points scored in the playoffs? After 16 regular season games, San Francisco had tallied 28 more points than Kansas City, 479 to 451, and with the two playoff games included, the 49ers maintain an edge by a six point margin.
Perhaps just as illuminating to most fans, is that during the regular season the Chiefs defense allowed fewer points than San Francisco, 308 to 310. It is worth noting that when the postseason stats are added into the equation, Kansas City has allowed 23 more points than San Francisco.
Perhaps even more important than those stats, is to know how these two Super Bowl combatants have fared over the past ten weeks. Since Week 10 of the regular season, the 49ers defense has allowed 263 points while the Chiefs have surrendered 182. A closer examination of those numbers suggests this, that Kansas City has the better defense, but that would be to abandon the possible reasons for the 49ers drop in defensive performance down the stretch of the 2019 regular season.
Injuries created holes in the 49ers stop unit, and they were carrying the weight of being the last undefeated team in the league. In recent weeks, the San Francisco stop unit has again been healthy, and their defense was paramount in stopping the Seattle Seahawks in their season finale to clinch the number one seed in the NFC and dominated both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in the two playoff games leading to Sunday’s showdown.
As for the Chiefs, their defense has improved as the season has moved along, and it has been their offense in the playoffs that has paved the way for them participating in their first Super Bowl in 50 years. They won Super Bowl IV, over the Minnesota Vikings, to complete the 1969 season, and also participated in the first Super Bowl, known then as the AFL/NFL Championship Game, and lost to Vince Lombardi and his Packers, 35-10.
From purely a stat perspective, the 49ers have rushed for a higher average, 4.7 to 4.2, and passed for the same average as the Chiefs, 7.9. Defensively, the 49ers have allowed fewer yards per rushing attempt, 4.4 to 4.8, and a lower average on pass attempts, 5.3 to 6.2.
Stats don’t lie.
If stats alone decide this Super Bowl, the 49ers are going to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy, tying the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories.
But, while numbers don’t lie, they also don’t necessarily predict the future. And given the 49ers have the game stats produced on the field bending their way, the bigger question becomes why are the Chiefs favored in Super Bowl LIV on the point spread?
Is it simply misguided public opinion, or something more?