Chris Long has plenty of experience in winning Super Bowl championships and playing a huge role in the team's success. Long played a vital role on the defensive line in back-to-back Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, a matchup he thinks will show in Super Bowl 54.
"I think the San Francisco 49ers are a better football team comprehensively," Long said on CBS Sports HQ Thursday. "This matchup in negating the best player on the field is the whole thing. And that's rush lanes, and I think Dee Ford's the guy. The pressure rate goes up 10 percent and the sack rate triples when he's in the game.
"He's also at the position that's going to be the most relevant in how you rush Mahomes. It's not only the front four being dominant and they have the best matchups inside, but it's the front four working on one accord."
The 49ers finished tied for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks and Football Outsiders ranked them second in adjusted sack rate, which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent. The 49ers also have nine sacks in two postseason games, solidifying how dominant their pass rush is.
Even though Long thinks the 49ers have a better team and have the edge on the defensive line, he's picking the Kansas City Chiefs to win the game. His reasoning is much different than others, but makes plenty of sense.
"I lean Kansas City because of the quarterback. When things are close, I'm going to go with the guy that's probably not going to (make a mistake)," Long said. "What it's like being a quarterback that's going to be cold for a month (Jimmy Garoppolo), 14-15 throws over the past month. Coaches, they're hell bent in the preseason on getting everybody reps. This has been like an extended preseason for him."
Garoppolo threw just eight passes in the NFC Championship Game victory, making three weeks where he'll have just eight pass attempts between the divisional playoffs and the Super Bowl. Garoppolo opening the Super Bowl rusty is a factor that hasn't been considered, especially since he has just 27 pass attempts this postseason to Patrick Mahomes's 70.
Long was a part of the underdog Eagles team that won the Super Bowl in 2017, even though Philadelphia finished with the no. 1 seed in the NFC and won 13 games in the regular season (yet were underdogs in all three postseason games). The Chiefs and 49ers have been among the league's best throughout the year, but Long sees the underdog in both of them ... which will play a factor in the game.
"These are two teams that probably both have a chip and they both feel like underdogs in a sense," Long said. "Kansas City was left for dead. They were, they haven't lost since the Tennessee loss (in early November). Since Baltimore exited the picture, they're the hottest team in football. San Francisco can also be an underdog because nobody wants to give them credit.
"The thing about San Francisco is they battle hard. They've truly been in a number of up and down games lately than Kansas City. They won a number of different ways, the Washington game 9-0, the 40-point game against New Orleans, they came back twice against Arizona. So San Francisco has overcome a lot, so has Kansas City."