NFL Analysis


5 min read

Super Bowl LVIII Matchup Guide: Mismatches, Key Stats For Every Phase of the Game

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) celebrates with guard Jon Feliciano (55) and offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) after a play against the Detroit Lions during the second half of the NFC Championship football game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, Sports Info Solutions (SIS) will generate a matchup comparison for the week’s NFL games based on its proprietary Total Points stat. 

There is only one game on the schedule this week, so we will beef that up and have a note for each major phase of the game: Kansas City Chiefs pass offense, San Francisco 49ers pass defense, etc. Everyone on our content team is contributing a note so you can get the widest breadth of statistical analysis we can offer.

First, let’s start with our usual matchup reference, using Total Points, SIS’ proprietary player value stat.

Total Points takes nearly everything that happens on the field and scales it in a way that allows you to compare players, units and teams. It will allow you to pinpoint mismatches, perhaps those you weren’t even aware existed.

To learn more about Total Points, read our piece from last season

Total Points Per Play ranks are based on 2023 performance to date. Fourth-down decision ranks are based on the head coach’s history of matching our model regarding what to do on fourth down over the last two seasons. See a brief description of the ranking methodology in this piece.

Here’s a note on every phase of the game from our analysts.

Super Bowl Matchups

49ers vs. Chiefs - Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
TeamPassRushRecBlockRun DPass RushPass Cov
Fourth-down decisions: 49ers 13th, Chiefs 29th

Chiefs Pass Offense

Death, taxes, and a top-five Chiefs passing offense led by Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes solely leads the charge this time, ranking second in on-target percentage and fourth in passing Total Points.

The term “solely” can be used because Mahomes has gotten minimal help from his receivers. This group has the seventh-lowest on-target catch rate and the second-highest drop rate. Even in the playoffs, the Chiefs have the second-most drops.

49ers Pass Defense

The 49ers have arguably the best coverage linebackers in the league. Their pass defense ranks second in the league in Total Points per play when a linebacker is the primary defender in coverage.

And while it might be wise to avoid them, there aren’t any weak units in the back seven. The corners and safeties still rank eighth and 10th, respectively.

Chiefs Rush Offense

Isiah Pacheco missed some time in the second half of the year and was struggling with elusiveness before that. He averaged five broken/missed tackles per 100 attempts and 2.3 yards after contact per carry in the four weeks before the injury, and when he returned.

He has found his wiggle and physicality during the last month, averaging 18 broken/missed tackles per 100 attempts and 3.5 yards after contact per attempt over the three games. However, he was stuffed by a stout Baltimore Ravens defense last time out.

49ers Rush Defense

For all the stars the 49ers have on defense, their run defense is not impressive. By run defense Total Points, its last place in the NFL — 21st on a per-play basis. 

The intended direction of the run makes a massive difference. The 49ers give up a “boom” play (+1 EPA or better) 12.1 percent of the time when the offense runs left, the worst in the league. When the offense runs right, that drops to 6.6 percent, fourth-best in the league.

This is an absurd split, and though the Chiefs run to each side of the field a near-identical percentage, don’t be surprised if they run left more often in this game.

49ers Pass Offense

San Francisco has perhaps the widest variety of effective pass catchers in the league, and it'll need contributions from as many of their stars as possible. Brandon Aiyuk finished the season ranked third in Total Points among all wide receivers on the way to his first All-Pro selection. 

Christian McCaffrey led all running backs in receiving Total Points, and George Kittle ranked second among all tight ends. Both earned first-team All-Pro honors. Brock Purdy held it all together with a top-10 finish in passing Total Points while leading the league in passing EPA by a wide margin.

Significant contributions also came from Deebo Samuel and a rock-solid offensive line that ranked third in Total Points per play. The 49ers have all the pieces to attack the Chiefs through the air on Sunday.

Chiefs Pass Defense

CB Trent McDuffie made the All-Pro team as the inaugural slot corner, but L’Jarius Sneed carried the defense during the back half of the year. 

Since Week 10, passes targeting Sneed have -21 EPA, and passes targeting anyone else have +17 EPA. 

McDuffie is a big part of this imbalance. Before Week 10, he was worth 24 pass coverage Total Points, 10th in the league among corners with 20+ targets. Since then, he has -1 Total Points (10th-worst).

The formula for a successful 49ers' passing attack is simple: keep it away from Sneed.

49ers Rush Offense

The key lane for McCaffrey during the regular season was on the left side of the field, all the way to the outside. During the regular season, McCaffrey had the most rushes to that area (57) and averaged the most yards (8.8) of any running back with at least 15 such runs.

But that lane closed off in the playoffs. He’s totaled 13 yards on five such rushes in his last two games.

Chiefs Rush Defense

The Chiefs’ rush defense is not great. During the regular season, their rush defense measured at -0.02 EPA per play (bottom-10 in the league). In the divisional round, Josh Allen picked up two rushing touchdowns in a single quarter.

We know the 49ers like to use zone blocking (three-quarters of their runs this year). When we filter for runs out of zone blocking schemes, the Chiefs’ numbers get even worse: -0.05 EPA per play.

It'll be a tall order for the Chiefs defense to contain McCaffrey. This matchup definitely favors the 49ers.