So this is it. The finale of the 2023 NFL season, Super Bowl LVIII.
As the kings of the NFC and AFC meet this Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the Kansas City Chiefs look to become the ninth franchise in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships.
Their opponents this weekend and remaining top seeds, the San Francisco 49ers were one of said teams to do so back in 1989, with the New England Patriots the last team to win successive Vince Lombardi crowns, back in Super Bowl XL.
So will Andy Reid and his Chiefs’ dynasty seal a third title or will the Niners end 29 years of pain?
Either way, there’s a fair chance Christian McCaffrey could be a determining factor in Sin City.
Sneaking past Lions
Rewinding back the clock almost a fortnight to Championship Sunday, the dividing divisions saw two very different games.
As the Chiefs stamped their Super Bowl stub for the fourth time in five years, Kansas exposed the Baltimore Ravens as yet another almost-ran, in a lack-lustre contest.
Across in Santa Clara meanwhile, the Niners and the Detroit went toe-to-toe, sharing 64 points at Levi Stadium.
Coming back from a 17-point half-time deficit, it was again McCaffrey who rode to the rescue with 2 decisive TDs and 132 scrimmage yards.
That, after the Lions kept the RB largely quiet, barring an opening-drive rampage.
The two sides have faced off in the CMC era just one in Week 7 of last term, when Niners’ star rusher was but in the early stages of his surge to stardom.
Running just 38 yds in a 44-23 smash-up by Kansas City, its was now Dolphin, Jeff Wilson Jr, who topped the running stats for San Francisco, with only 16 more yds.
However, in all likelihood – though MVP may be out the reach of McCaffrey – the Colorado native will be keen to rewrite the script this weekend.
Pacheco can lead
If running the football becomes a predominant feature on Sunday, Kansas City are not without their weapons.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a key rusher in the playoffs as an alternate, but Isiah Pacheco put a TD on the board against the Dolphins, Bills and Ravens.
Not only that, the Rutgers collegiate rushed 65+ yds in all three games, topping the stats against Buffalo with 111 scrimmage yds.
— NFL (@NFL) February 9, 2024
Pacheco may not have the leg power of CMC, but can ‘angry run’ at any moment – something the Chiefs will look to against Nick Bosa et el.
Super Bowl LVIII may be mischievously tagged the ‘Taylor Bowl’, but both Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes could yet have the headlines stolen by Pacheco.
In the desert, it’s fair to say the weather shouldn’t be an issue for either Patrick Mahomes or Brock Purdy – despite a midweek downpour in Nevada.
Nevertheless, the running games of both Chiefs and Niners have gone a long way in the post-season.
Not only McCaffrey but Pacheco will be front-and-centre on the Strip, and will still dominate our prop betting.
888sport has a number of Super Bowl specials, and firstly, a 5/2 shot at McCaffrey to rush 49 yds and receive 49 yds looks very achievable.
The alternative to that, for CMC to notch 150+ scrimmage yds is a rounder 13/8.
For a combined punt meanwhile, Pacheco to rush 60+ yds and McCaffrey 80+ yds, a final fling at 27/20 might be a safer play.
The San Francisco 49ers play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, kick-off 23:40GMT/6:40ET.