Andy Reid deserves to win a Super Bowl. The longtime coach, probably the best offensive mind in the NFL, who used to call LaVell Edwards on a regular basis to discuss matters of winning and living, who is respected by darn near everyone in and around the league, has had his share of success.
But the biggest prize has eluded him.
This time, he’ll get it, as his Kansas City Chiefs will defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Miami. How do I know this? I don’t. Like everybody else who’s asked to make a prediction, I’m guessing. But there are good reasons for guessing on KC.
There are proper reasons to guess on the Niners, as well.
It’s a classic battle of a kind of defense-first 49ers team with a throwback offense versus a newfangled — if there is such a thing in football anymore — attack, the Chiefs flinging the ball all over the yard, and hoping the defense will hold up just enough to allow a win.
San Francisco does love to run the ball and if it can do so against a Kansas City defense that was pretty well shredded at times during the regular season in that way, it will be a long-sorry night for Reid. It’s worth noting, though, that the Chiefs’ resistance has been much improved in recent times, and seems to have gotten its mitts around the concept that stopping the run is pretty important to winning, even in a pass-happy NFL.
So, what happens if KC is able to accomplish that? It appears that Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is capable of winning games when he is counted on to pass a lot. San Francisco is 7-1 in games in which the QB threw for 250 or more yards and 3-1 in games where he threw at least 35 passes.
But that’s not how the Niners prefer to play.
They favor pounding the rock and playing their defense, a moving wall that typically turns the area where an opposing quarterback sets up to throw a living hell. That pass rush applied by the Niners is rough, indeed, helped by one of the league’s best cornerbacks, Richard Sherman, and reinforced by a linebacking crew, led by former BYU backer Fred Warner, that cleans up the mess.
But Patrick Mahomes is not your typical quarterback. He will struggle if that aforementioned rush — a rush that usually is effective with just four lineman, not needing much blitz help — is not limited, if it is not made to think for a nanosecond about a few completed junk passes, screens and throws out of a rolling pocket and the like, that if properly executed will be effective against such upfront aggression.
Mahomes has been ridiculously devastating in the playoffs, sporting a 131.5 passer rating over two games. On account of his athleticism, he’s able to create passing windows that would not be available to most quarterbacks. And he can run forward, too, causing more problems for even an accomplished D like the Niners’. In the postseason, he’s hit better than 65 percent of his passes, averaged nearly nine yards per attempt, thrown for eight TDs and suffered no interceptions. He’s also run for a touchdown.
That’s the kind of play that will be required to beat San Francisco.
That’s the kind of play that’s become almost routine for Mahomes.
He’s helped by all the options that surround him — guys like Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Damien Williams.
The team with the best quarterback doesn’t always hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but it usually does. And if there are those who want to cling to the cliche that defense wins championships, they will go ahead and pick the 49ers.
In reality, it is all the players who win championships, and Reid’s players, in particular, want to win it not just for themselves, but for their coach, who is probably the best pro mentor never to have won a Super Bowl. He ranks sixth all-time in NFL wins. And as Kelce put it, the Chiefs are well aware of Reid’s record, and lack of a trophy. The tight end said getting to the Super Bowl is not enough, “Winning this thing for him is.”
It will be a thrilling, competitive game — another risky guess when it comes to Super Bowls — but, in the end, Reid at long last will get his title. And … who knows? … maybe sometime thereafter throw up a telepathic/prayerful message into the great beyond, to Edwards, his old friend and mentor at BYU.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.