Claire Komarek, CBS Sports

The big game is finally here as the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs face off in Super Bowl LVIII, which kicks off in just a few hours. The 49ers opened up as favorites, even though they have yet to cover the spread in the playoffs. As for the Chiefs have gone 3-0 ATS and SU even while being road underdogs in the divisional round and AFC championship game.

Patrick Mahomes vs. Brock Purdy is one of the bigger matchups: One is on track to rival Tom Brady as the greatest ever, while the other continues to quiet any remaining doubters. Is Purdy a "game manager?" I don't think that term is a negative descriptor. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to throwing with anticipation, and he has a chance to change the narrative around him forever on Sunday.

Before we get into the pick, here's how to watch.

San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs

Date: Sunday, Feb. 11 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, Nickelodeon | Stream: CBS broadcast on Paramount+
Opening odds: 49ers -1.5, O/U 47.5  

Is Mahomes as an underdog an auto bet? As a dog, he's 9-3 SU and 10-1-1 ATS. Those marks rank first among the 320 quarterbacks who have made 10 starts as an underdog since 1970. Vegas gave us the Chiefs at plus money vs. the Philadelphia Eagles last year, and those who didn't take it looked silly. I've already bet the Chiefs, but am I 100% sold?

Mahomes is playing great football, but the Chiefs defense has gotten this team to this point. Now, they have to face off against one of the most unique offenses in the NFL. At Super Bowl Opening Night, I wanted to know how Kansas City's defensive starters planned on stopping the timing routes and that special rhythm the 49ers offense can get in. I spoke with Trent McDuffie, Nick Bolton and Justin Reid, who all said it comes down to being physical in coverage and in tackling, and that it will take a collective effort. 

I think San Francisco is one of the best teams in the league, but the 49ers haven't looked like juggernauts in the playoffs. There's a reason why so many people are surprised they are favored over the Chiefs -- who have dominated in the postseason. In Super Wild Card Weekend, the Chiefs defense held the Miami Dolphins to season-worsts in points (7), yards per play (4.5) and third downs (1 of 12). Against the Buffalo Bills in the next round, Kansas City held Buffalo to its fewest yards per attempt (4.8) since 2021. In the AFC Championship win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Chiefs held Baltimore to a season-low 81 rushing yards and the lowest time of possession (22:30) in Lamar Jackson's career. That's crazy!

I'm interested in how Steve Spagnuolo will call the shots on Sunday. Purdy had 13 touchdowns and one interception vs. man coverage this season, while averaging a league-high 10.2 yards per attempt. Blitzing Purdy isn't a fantastic idea either, as he averages a league-high 10.5 yards per attempt. Containing Christian McCaffrey is one thing, but when it comes to containing the 49ers' passing attack, the Chiefs should try to force Purdy to hold on to the ball longer than he wants to. Holding up in coverage -- whether that be man or zone -- for an extra two seconds could be the X factor to defeating San Francisco, and then Chris Jones and George Karlaftis have to get pressure without additional help. Spagnuolo is going to throw multiple looks at Kyle Shanahan, but keep an eye on Purdy's time to throw. 

Expect a close game that comes down to the fourth quarter, where the Chiefs defense makes a stand. 

Projected score: Chiefs 24-21
The pick: Chiefs +2

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