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It’s less than eight hours until kickoff of SB LVIII. Picking against Patrick, Andy and the Chiefs can be foolish. (I was living proof of that last year.) But I’m taking the 49ers.  Here’s why:

  • The SF offense is the best and the most versatile in the NFL. That attack can pull and stretch a defense in a greater number of directions than can any other team, certainly including the Chiefs.
  • This will be a game of big plays. And the Niners have a greater number of explosive players than do the Chiefs. In hoop terms, San Fran has CMC, Kittle, Deebo and Aiyuk runnin’ the floor with Purdy as the point guard. They are gonna get some fast-breaks.  I think the Chiefs will be more dependent on long, double-digit play drives. Pacheco is a good and very versatile back. He’ll need to rush for 75 yards and catch six passes for 40 more for the Chiefs to prosper. That’s a tall order, even though the SF run defense has under-performed thus far in the postseason.  Generating a vertical passing game could be a problem for K.C. The Chiefs’ offensive tackles are poor pass protectors, and while the WR corps has improved of late, it remains iffy at best. Either Rice or Valdes-Scantling—or both—will have to come up big, and I don’t have a lot of confidence in that.
  • That leads us to Kelce. He’ll get his catches, but they will mostly be of the dink-and-dunk variety. Kelce does most of his damage in the middle of the field, but the ‘Niners statistically have had the best “between the numbers” pass defense in the NFL all year long. Mahomes is going to have to run for multiple first downs, and that could be a problem, since the Niners will be in zone most of the time, with all eleven defenders facing the quarterback.
  • Yes, this is the best defense the Chiefs have ever brought to the Super Bowl in the Andy-Era. But a lot of this defensive success has been generated by Steve Spagnuolo’s exotic—and even off-the wall—blitz packages. They don’t DARE blitz the Niners as often as they blitzed the Ravens two weeks ago. Unlike the Baltimore, SF will have the good since to RUN the ball against those blitzes, and CMC will inevitably break some long runs. And then there’s Deebo running hot adjustments against the blitz. Can you say, “Yards after catch”?

Essentially, the Niners just have more ways to beat you. The Chiefs’ blue-print for victory is very specific and narrow. They HAVE to get off to a hot start. But they can do that. They scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions against the Ravens. The KC defense HAS to force some early three-and-outs. But they can do that, particularly in view of the first-half offensive sputters the Niners suffered against both the Packers and the Lions. If KC jumps out early and big, the Niners will have a serious problem reeling them in. And if this comes down to a late field goal, the Chiefs and Harrison Butker will have a decided advantage there.  But overall, the Chiefs have a smaller margin for error that the Niners do.

But I know you. I know what you’re thinking. I know you better than you know yourselves.  You’re thinking, “Coach, do you really think Brock Purdy can beat Patrick Mahomes?”  No. But I absolutely think the Niners can beat the Chiefs. The Niners 1-53 are better than the Chiefs 1-53.

And underestimate Purdy at your own peril. He led the league in yards per attempt. He threw for over 4,200 yards. You can’t do that if you’re merely a pedestrian “game manager.”

The Niners get their sixth Lombardi Trophy, tying the Patriots for the most in Super Bowl history.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.