Patrick Mahomes didn’t even have to sweat.
The 2019 version of the Chicago Bears defense was very good. Not as good as the team’s 2018 defense, but certainly among the better units in the league. They had, for the most part, shut Aaron Rodgers down a week before, but Mahomes was different.
The stat line wasn’t amazing. Mahomes completed 23-of-33 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another score. It was as ho-hum as three-touchdown games get. But the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
The Bears defense didn’t play poorly.
It was among Khalil Mack’s better efforts, turning Kansas City’s offensive tackles inside out numerous times.
It didn’t matter.
Mahomes was able to step up, move to his right or his left and use different arm angles to deliver passes right on the money. Wide receivers that shouldn’t have been open were because Mahomes can make throws no other quarterback thinks about. Mahomes is just better than any quarterback we’ve ever seen.
While the final score allows us to toss the San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship game as a blowout, the truth is the Packers had their chances to make the game interesting. They forced the 49ers to settle for a field goal, making the score 10-0. The Packers had a long drive that would’ve resulted in points down 17-0 if not for a botched snap. They had a chance before halftime, trailing 20-0 before an interception.
The 49ers have issues in their secondary. They recently benched one starting cornerback and their other is Richard Sherman, who simply doesn’t have the speed to keep up with any of Kansas City’s receivers.
Kansas City’s defense isn’t great, but it’s better than many fans seem to realize.
After three early drives, the Chiefs shut the Titans down — the Titans had one of the most explosive offenses in the league since Ryan Tannehill became their quarterback. Houston didn’t do all that much outside of garbage time late, it was special teams mistakes that allowed them to put up 24 points at the start of the game. Since their Week 12 bye week, the Chiefs have allowed more than 24 points just once and less than 10 three times.
The 49ers are no slouch.
Even as Green Bay was working its way back in the game, it’s hard to fathom that the 49ers basically didn’t have to pass. It wasn’t until late that they called a pass play that led to a big gain to start a drive that essentially clinched the win. It makes you think they could’ve scored at will, which perhaps makes the comeback and the other chances the Packers seemed to have earlier in the game meaningless. We’ll never know simply because it didn’t get to that point.
Kyle Shanahan is the best coach in the league. To say he beat the Packers by running the ball is an extreme oversimplification. They didn’t just line up and pound it, they found ways to attack specific weaknesses on every play. It was as impressive of a game plan as we’ve seen.
But the 49ers have a major weakness in that their quarterback tends to make huge mistakes. Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception against the Vikings and very nearly did so against the Packers. Those mistakes can’t happen against the Chiefs.
The 49ers should score points. Their offense has shown it can light up the scoreboard against good defenses, which is what will make this game fun. But when the game is on the line and one of the teams needs to make a big play, Mahomes won’t blink.