After a thrilling Conference Championship Sunday, the matchup for Super Bowl LVIII is set.
The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs are back in the Big Game for the fourth time in five years, where they will meet the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of Super Bowl LIV.
The Chiefs won that game, 31-20, and won last year’s Super Bowl as well, so many expected them to be favored coming into this year’s Super Bowl.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid are gunning for their third championship together as they look to extend their dynasty.
However, many NFL observers view the 49ers as a superior team coming off a more successful regular season.
San Francisco won 12 games in the regular season to Kansas City’s 11. The 49ers earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC, granting them an extra week of rest during the Wild Card Round.
On paper, this looks like a fairly even matchup. But which team is favored to win when these teams clash at Allegiant Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday?
Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook. Subject to change.
Super Bowl LVIII Moneyline Favorite
The 49ers opened as slight moneyline favorites and are priced at -130 on Super Bowl Sunday.
San Francisco has not won a Super Bowl since 1995 and has lost each of its last two appearances, including against Kansas City in 2020.
The Niners had a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but allowed 21 unanswered points to Mahomes and company.
This is the first Super Bowl appearance for San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy, who is only two years removed from being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
That hasn’t stopped him from going 21-5 as a starter in his career, including 4-1 in the playoffs.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is also searching for his first Super Bowl title.
He’s seeking redemption after enduring horrendous Super Bowl meltdowns with the 49ers in 2020 and the Atlanta Falcons (as their offensive coordinator) in 2017.
That may prove difficult against Mahomes and Reid, however, as the duo are close to unbeatable in the playoffs.
That’s a massive disparity in terms of experience. We’ve seen Mahomes and Reid flourish on the big stage multiple times; the same can’t be said for Purdy and Shanahan.
San Francisco’s playoff performance so far has been concerning.
The 49ers have fallen behind early in both of their postseason games and needed fourth-quarter comebacks to beat the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
That will be a tougher script to follow against the Chiefs, who did not relinquish early leads against the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in their run to the Super Bowl.
If San Francisco gets off to another slow start, it will be hard-pressed to rally against Kansas City’s vaunted defense (second-fewest points and yards allowed in the regular season).
The Chiefs’ defense has played outstanding in the playoffs, holding two of the league’s best offenses (Miami and Baltimore) to a combined 17 points.
The 49ers’ defense has been vulnerable, yielding 52 points and 772 yards of total offense in its two postseason games thus far.
Given San Francisco’s struggles against Jordan Love and Jared Goff, it’s hard to imagine the Niners slowing down a two-time Super Bowl MVP like Mahomes.
Kansas City has all the momentum after rattling off five straight wins and is playing its best football of the year. San Francisco has looked discombobulated at times, and another sluggish first half here could spell doom.
Super Bowl LVIII Spread Favorite
The 49ers were 2.5-point favorites on the spread. However, they’re just 1.5-point favorites on Super Bowl Sunday.
Kansas City was a 1.5-point underdog in last year’s Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles and covered, winning the game 38-35.
The Chiefs have been the better spread team this year, going 12-7-1 ATS. They’ve covered in five straight games, including the last two as underdogs.
San Francisco has been weaker against the spread, going 9-10. The 49ers have failed to cover in three straight games and four of their last five.
It’s worth noting that only one game in Super Bowl history has been decided by one point. That was back in 1991, when the New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills 20-19 after the Bills missed a go-ahead field goal.
Accordingly, a 1.5-point spread isn’t too relevant here. Most NFL games are decided by at least three points, so bettors should simply pick which team they expect to win.
In that case, we’re taking the points with Kansas City.
The Chiefs’ recent success in the Big Game, their key advantages at head coach and quarterback and their superior form lately should help them cover and bring home another Lombardi Trophy.
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images