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News' staff predictions for Super Bowl 54

Vic Carucci

I agree with the general assessment that this will be a close, competitive game from start to finish. It still doesn't change the fact the most talented player on the field is going to have the greatest influence on the outcome. That player is Patrick Mahomes, and there isn't a close second. His play, good or bad, will be the biggest story of this Super Bowl. I'm expecting Mahomes to be great, as he has been virtually each time he puts on a uniform. The 49ers have a tremendous defense, which also goes a long way toward determining championships, but I don't think it will be enough to prevent Mahomes from doing the incredible things he does as a thrower, runner and everything in between. Chiefs 31-24.

Jay Skurski

Just one Super Bowl in the past 35 years has had a Vegas line this close; the Chiefs are favored by one. In other words, expect an awesome game. When picking a game between teams that are so evenly matched, I default to the best player. That's Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He's going to challenge the long-held belief that defense wins championships. The key for Kansas City will be getting a lead, forcing the 49ers to throw the ball more than they would like. As for your prop bets, take the over on the national anthem and – Bills fans might not like this one – Sammy Watkins as a sleeper for MVP. Chiefs 27-23. 

Mark Gaughan

Expect a wildly entertaining, high-scoring game. I can't see any way it goes like last year's Super Bowl, 13-3. Even if the Chiefs have a slow start, once Patrick Mahomes gets rolling, he's going to roll. Likewise, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's ability to keep the defense off balance with his misdirection game is unparalleled. The Niners have put up 30-plus points nine times. They won a 48-46 shootout with the Saints. Hang onto your seats. Last possession wins. I say this a lot, but this is not a good game on which to bet money you're not prepared to lose. I like the over 54.5. We could see some 2-point conversions. Don't lose hope if you have goofy numbers in your squares pool. Niners, 36-33.

Jason Wolf

Defense wins championships, and the 49ers have the NFL's top-ranked pass D and allowed the second-fewest total yards in the league. San Francisco is no slouch on offense, either. The Niners were second in points scored and rushing yards. That appears to be a bad matchup for Kansas City, considering the Chiefs have been miserable stopping the run. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense can be explosive, but they've also sputtered to slow starts in each of their home playoff victories, falling behind by double digits before rallying to beat Houston and Tennessee. Also, for what it's worth, and as much as I hate to type this, never underestimate Andy Reid's ability to lose a big game. Niners, 31-28.

Rachel Lenzi

The Chiefs were on the ropes early in both their playoff games, but found their stride against the Texans and the Titans, and made sure to remind anyone who bet against them – and it didn't seem like there were many – that it takes four quarters to win a game, not one, or not a half. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl after sustaining a knee injury in October, and steered a diverse offense, particularly on the pass. The 49ers haven't been a pass-heavy team in the playoffs, so the biggest test for the Chiefs will be locking up San Francisco's running game, which has averaged 235.5 yards in its two playoff games. Don't hold your breath for the Chiefs to jump out to a quick start, but don't be surprised if they make it interesting in the most important game of the season. Chiefs 30-27.

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