Prisco’s Super Bowl 2024 pick: The next Michael Jordan? Patrick Mahomes beats the 49ers again as his legacy grows

LAS VEGAS – It was just four years ago that the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers played in the Super Bowl, a game won by the Chiefs and a game that gave Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes his first Super Bowl victory.

Since then, Mahomes has won one more, lost another, and this week is trying to become a three-time Super Bowl winner against the same 49ers organization he defeated four years ago.

We’re often asked what that first meeting will mean for the game.

Not much.

Both teams have only 17 players in that game. But even more so is a look at the game’s statistical leaders.

The leading passers were Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers and Mahomes for the Chiefs. The leading rushers were Raheem Mostert for the 49ers and Damian Williams for the Chiefs. The leading receivers in yards were Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs and Kendrick Bourne for the 49ers. Had four players with interceptions in the game. Three of those four players are gone.

A constant?

Mahomes.

That’s why I’m picking the Chiefs to beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII and repeat as champions because Mahomes will win his third title, sending Tom Brady notice that he’s coming for him.

Kansas City Chiefs (+2) Vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, 6:30 pm ET (CBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount+)

This Chiefs team isn’t the grand-stat offensive team we’ve come to expect from Mahomes, but he’s found a way to work around key issues on offense this season, including poor tackle play and receivers who can’t catch him. Football is now on the track of its team history.

The Chiefs will become the first back-to-back champions since the New England Patriots and Brady did it in 2003 and 2004.

While Mahomes hasn’t been able to put up huge numbers in the playoffs, he’s been steady, capable and made big plays when needed without making mistakes. Game Manager? rarely. But he hasn’t thrown a pick in three postseason games and has been sacked just three times behind a leaky offensive line. It’s playing big at the moment.

That doesn’t mean Mahomes can’t get hot and carry this team even with problems. We know he can. But I think the Chiefs will start running the football in this game against a 49ers defense with Isiah Pacheco that has given up 5.6 per rush in the playoffs. The 49ers were trying to defend the run as they were pushed around by both the Green Pay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Andy Reid is smart enough to know where to attack.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs have had the best defense during the Mahomes era. Coordinator Steve Spagnuello is one of the best players ever in the postseason, but he faces a tough challenge against the 49ers’ high-scoring offense. Spagnuolo likes to use nickel and dime looks a lot, but you can bet the 49ers will attack with Christian McCaffrey if he does. The Chiefs, like the 49ers, are prone to the run and will be more so if they don’t play much base defense.

Then there’s 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, playing in his first Super Bowl. This is a game that could be his vindication moment for any remaining doubters. He’s been really good this season, putting his name in the MVP talk for a while. In the 49ers’ two postseason wins, he’s had great success with late-game drives. That’s how quarterbacks are defined, even if he struggles at times in those games.

Purdy has been outstanding against the blitz this year — No. 1 in the league — so Spagnuolo will have to be creative with how he uses him. The Chiefs secondary is the strength of the defense, and its disguise and late rotation could be big in getting Purdy to tick.

Early on, I see two teams running the football against a weak rush defense. The game will close late. But in the end, it will be Mahomes time.

I can see it now: 49ers up by three at 20-17, Mahomes with the ball at his own 25 with 2:20 left in the game and two timeouts. From there, it’s Mahomes pulling off another magical moment, surgically carving away the 49ers defense to give the Chiefs a game-winning touchdown, even though a field goal tied it.

That would give Mahomes three Super Bowl wins in six years as a starter, with one loss in the big game. He could have easily played in the other two, blowing a 21-3 lead against the Bengals in a playoff loss and, given the offsides penalty, negated the interception that would have beaten the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

The man is on a mission. That mission is to unseat Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time. But let’s make it bigger than that. He may be on his way to becoming the next Michael Jordan, leaving stars in his path without rings as he builds pillars as the greatest to ever do it.

High praise for sure, but who do we suspect Patrick Mahomes is? I certainly don’t.

choose: Chiefs 24, 49ers 20

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