Super Bowl LIV Staff Predictions

At numberFire, we have an algorithm that generates our official NFL game picks, but that doesn't mean that we all totally agree with it 100% of the time. We're people. With opinions. And we, like a lot of other folks, think that we know who is going to win the Super Bowl.

This is the forum for just that: our staff members are here to give out their winner picks, score predictions, MVP selections, and reasoning behind those selections.

We'll start with the compilation of all 16 submissions and then move down the list into individual picks. Of note, 11 predictions see this as a one-score game, but pretty much everyone is on one side of this, and the MVP is pretty darn unanimous.

Combined Results

Super Bowl Winner: Kansas City Chiefs (13 votes) over San Francisco 49ers (3 votes)
Average Score: 30.44 to 25.31 (55.75 total points)
Over/Under Totals (54.5): 8 Overs; 8 Unders
Super Bowl MVP Votes: Patrick Mahomes (12), Raheem Mostert (3), Damien Williams (1)

Staff Picks

JJ Zachariason, Editor-In-Chief
Winner: Chiefs, 27-20
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: The 49ers' defense can generate pressure, but we’ve seen a more mobile Patrick Mahomes of late -- he’s averaged over seven rushes per game in the playoffs. His ability to escape pressure should help the Chiefs offense, as should the fact that the Kansas City defense has been much improved over the second half of the season. There’s a reason they’re on an eight-game winning streak while winning each contest by seven or more points.

Jim Sannes, Senior Writer and Analyst
Winner: Chiefs, 31-21
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: The 49ers' defense has mauled everything in its path, but Mahomes has put up monster efficiency stats even against the league's top defenses. The Chiefs' speed on offense is a bad matchup for the 49ers, and having multiple avenues for gutting an opponent will help the Chiefs come out on top.

Brandon Gdula, Managing Editor
Chiefs, 31-24
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: After poring over the data, I've changed my initial reaction over from the 49ers to the Chiefs. Jimmy Garoppolo has shown the ability to perform against tough opponents all season when called upon, but conversely, no defenses have really slowed down Mahomes, who has four key playmakers at his disposal -- and some rushing wheels of his own on top of it. Points will be scored, and while I always love a good contrarian MVP pick, it's Mahomes' to lose.

Abe Schwadron, Contributing Editor/Social Media
Winner: Chiefs, 35-24
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: In their last two outings, the Chiefs have spotted their opponents double-digit leads before waking up. Kansas City will be the team to jump out to the early lead in this one, nullifying the 49ers' desire to kill the clock and putting all the pressure on Jimmy G. The Chiefs cover the 1.5-point spread easily, and Mahomes takes home the MVP with three touchdown passes to three different receivers.

Austan Kas, Associate Editor
Winner: 49ers, 24-20
Super Bowl MVP: Raheem Mostert
Reasoning: Kansas City owns the league's seventh-worst run defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. As the Niners have shown through two playoff games, two outings in which Jimmy Garoppolo combined for 27 passing attempts, they're not afraid to pound the rock. I expect San Fran to feed Mostert, taking advantage of this matchup while also keeping Patrick Mahomes and company on the sideline.

Kenyatta Storin, Associate Editor
Winner: Chiefs, 42-35
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: Following a Week 7 knee injury, Patrick Mahomes had an inconsistent second half to the regular season, but there’s little question that he’s peaking at just the right time in these playoffs. And while it might be the boring choice, I’m not in the business of picking against a locked-in Mahomes, even in a tough matchup against San Francisco’s second-ranked adjusted pass defense. Although the 49ers should be able to exploit the Chiefs’ 28th-ranked run defense, I see them needing to throw more often than they like to keep up, and we did see Kansas City hold Derrick Henry in check against Tennessee. Jimmy Garoppolo has been efficient this year, but if this turns into a shootout, you’re siding with Mahomes and his weapons every time.

Tom Vecchio, Associate Editor
Winner: Chiefs, 28-24
Super Bowl MVP: Damien Williams
Reasoning: The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl via a balanced rushing and passing attack. While the 49ers’ defense is truly great, the offenses they’ve faced in recent weeks haven’t been at the level of Kansas City. Between Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Damien Williams, the 49ers will have their hands full but, they must not forget about Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman. It’s the depth of options the Chiefs have on offense which will ultimately win them this game.

Elisha Twerski, Associate Editor
Winner: 49ers, 27-24
Super Bowl MVP: Raheem Mostert
Reasoning: If you asked me tomorrow, I might pick the Chiefs, but for now, I’m sticking with my gut and going with San Francisco. In the 10 games where Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander were all healthy, the Niners went 10-0 with an average margin of victory of 16.7. On average, they allowed just 13.2 points and 232.9 net yards in those contests. The recipe for a 49ers' win is through their ground game, so I’ll take flier on Raheem Mostert (+850).

Keith Goldner, Chief Analyst
Winner: Chiefs 27-24 (0.59% chance of this exact final score)
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: It's Andy Reid's time. In a game with a total currently over 54, offense should win out, and KC has the better offense (number-two in the league after adjusting for strength of schedule). The key matchup will be Patrick Mahomes and a passing offense that adds a point above expectation for every three drop backs versus the league's number-two opponent-adjusted passing defense.

Sam Hauss, Analytics Manager/Projections Czar
Winner: Chiefs, 31-27
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: This is an extremely interesting matchup given the juxtaposition of styles. San Francisco has had great success controlling the tempo of the game with their rushing attack this postseason while Kansas City has used their explosive passing attack to overwhelm their opponents. Ultimately, I think the Chiefs' ability to score quickly on offense will force San Francisco out of their comfort zone and into a bit of a fast-paced shootout. Look for Mahomes to have a huge game through the air en route to MVP honors and for Andy Reid to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Neil Dutton, Contributor
Chiefs, 27-17
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: The success that the 49ers have had this season with their smothering defense and multi-faceted ground attack has been nothing short of brilliant. I would decry as a fool anyone who tried to deny it. But the best player on either team in this match is Patrick Mahomes, and in 2020, a great quarterback should beat a great defense. The Chiefs' defense doesn’t have to be a shutdown unit for them to win, whereas the 49ers probably do. But the next team to completely shut down Mahomes and the Chiefs offense will be the first, and I don’t see that happening in Miami.

Sam Factor, Contributor
Winner: Chiefs, 35-24
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: There is no defense in the league that can stop the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Chiefs get an early lead, I do not see the 49ers' passing attack having the ability to make a comeback. If the 49ers take an early lead, there is no telling how quickly we could see the Chiefs make a comeback as we have seen in their last two playoff games.

Sam Hoppen, Contributor
Winner: Chiefs, 41-28
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: It's the immovable object of the 49ers' defense -- the second-best defensive unit this year -- meeting the unstoppable force of the Chiefs' offense -- the most explosive offense over the past two years. As prolific as San Francisco's running game is and as good as Shanahan's play-calling is, this year is finally going to be Andy Reid's year to win the big one. Hawaiian shirt and all, Reid will find a way to bottle up the San Francisco rushing attack in the same way that they did against Tennessee, and Patrick Mahomes will shine as he has this entire playoffs while leading Kansas City to its first Super Bowl victory in over 50 years.

Gus Logue, Contributor
Winner: Chiefs, 34-31
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan are arguably the two best play callers in the league, and I imagine they'll each be able to put together some great game plans with two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl. I think this will come down to the wire and be one of those high scoring games where the team that scores last wins, like Niners versus Saints this season or Chiefs versus Rams last season. I'll take the better quarterback in Pat Mahomes to win Reid's first Super Bowl.

Erik Smith, Contributor
Winner: Chiefs, 34-27
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Reasoning: This 49ers' rushing offense is a scary matchup for the Chiefs, but so was Derrick Henry and the Titans. Mahomes has been dynamic through the air and on the ground, and Damien Williams has finally begun to contribute down the stretch. Kansas City should be able to figure out a crack in the defense, and once they exploit it, watch out. Garoppolo will be needed at some point in this one, and he may show some rust early on. But really, this is about Mahomes, who appears to be marching toward a championship.

Taylor Smith, Contributor
Winner: 49ers, 28-20
Super Bowl MVP: Raheem Mostert
Reasoning: It’s over. We are screwed. Derrick Henry and Raheem Mostert have murdered analytics. I’m fully expecting Kyle Shannahan to scheme up some brilliant opening drives, build a marginal lead, and have the Niners' pass rush tee off on Mahomes. The Chiefs are a bottom-five schedule-adjusted run defense, so stopping this dynamic rushing attack won’t be easy. The San Francisco defense also ranked second at limiting explosive plays this season, so a fiery comeback won’t be as easy for Kansas City as it was these last two games. If this contest unfolds as I think it will, Mahomes and Andy Reid are going to have to wait another year for that first Lombardi.