The NFL’s best gather in Orlando, Florida, this week to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium (ABC/ESPN, 3 p.m. ET). How do they see Super Bowl LIV playing out between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers?
We asked 18 Pro Bowlers and a Legends captain to weigh in on who’s going to win the big game. Not everyone went on record and chose a winner, but everyone offered a take. Here’s what they said:
PICKING THE 49ERS TO WIN
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker
“The Niners — but a really, really, really close game. It’s just so hard, like it’s hard, but I just think that [the 49ers’] defense is gonna limit [the Chiefs’] offense a little bit, and then if they do enough difficult stuff on offense of not being straightforward, then they’ll get enough points.”
What makes the Niners’ defense special?
“Mentality, everybody want to make that play, everybody hungry to make that play and you can see it [in] the way they play.”
Denver Broncos linebacker
“49ers. I can’t go with the Chiefs. I can’t go with the Chiefs.”
Denver Broncos wide receiver
“It’s going to be a good game. Being a Broncos fan I can’t cheer for the Chiefs. But it’s going to be a good game. I’m not going to pick winner or loser but it will be a good game, and I can’t pick the Chiefs so I guess that’s my answer right there without saying it.”
Tennessee Titans defensive tackle
“Honestly I’ve got to go with my guys the 49ers. I’m a Cali guy, one, and then my boy Arik Armstead is up there, so I’ve got to go with my guy.”
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Steelers defensive end
“I’m going to say San Fran. I think they’ve got a really good front four and they can get after it.”
What about Patrick Mahomes?
“Mahomes is the X factor. I don’t know what he’s going to do but he’s been carrying that team. I think everyone wants to see Andy Reid get one, but it’s going to be tough versus that vaunted defense.”
PICKING THE CHIEFS TO WIN
Ravens offensive lineman
“I think it’s going to be a really good game, but if you make me choose I’m going to go with the Chiefs. I think the Chiefs had a really good defensive performance against Derrick Henry so I think if they can keep that up vs. San Francisco’s running game, that’ll be good, and then I just think that Mahomes is going to make his plays. So I’m going with Kansas City.”
Indianapolis Colts linebacker
“It’s hard. I’m going to stay with the AFC, though. I say Kansas City might get it because their offense is pretty nasty. They’ve got a lot of weapons there. They’ve got a lot of speed there. One of my former teammates from South Carolina State [defensive back Alex Brown] is playing there so hopefully he can get it his rookie year.”
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end
“Kansas City Chiefs because I feel like they’re playing really good defense right now and I think they’ll be able to handle San Francisco’s run game. But it’s going to be a good ballgame because the 49ers have a defense to slow down the Chiefs, too.”
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback
“I’m going to go with Kansas City. I’m just a Patrick Mahomes fan. I really love him. That offense is crazy and then their defense getting Tyrann Mathieu I think really, really helped them out. But I think their offense is just very, very powerful.”
Jaguars wide receiver
“I’m gonna have to go with the Chiefs. I think I have more former college teammates with the Chiefs. And shoutout to Tyreek Hill for going to the Super Bowl so I could come here, so I’m going with the Chiefs. They’re just explosive. But the 49ers are very good, too. It’s gonna be a good game. I just like the explosive offense from the Chiefs.”
Chicago Bears cornerback
“Kansas City. I think they’re pretty balanced, offense and defensive-wise, even special teams — I think they’re definitely a threat for sure with Patrick Mahomes and their receivers. I’m also a little bit biased. My brother [Kendall Fuller] is playing on their defense so … but yeah, I’m gonna go with Kansas City.”
On his brother, Kendall Fuller, playing in the Super Bowl
“It’s pretty cool. I’m looking forward to watching him.”
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HOW THE SUPER BOWL WILL UNFOLD
New Orleans Saints quarterback
“It’s gonna be a heck of a battle. I’m excited to see it. I know everybody else is. We’re talking about a super explosive offense — with all those weapons. [Chiefs quarterback Patrick] Mahomes’ ability just to make plays when there’s nothing there ….
“The challenge that the 49ers present is that they have an excellent front seven, and lots of subbing in that can play ball, too. And then their back end is very good. So there’s no weak link on that defense.
“On the flip side, the Niners’ offense is so good at controlling the ball, running the ball. They’ve got weapons — obviously their tight end and receiver position — Jimmy Garoppolo’s gonna have a terrific day. So it’s almost gonna be like a game of keep-away — just keep the ball away from Mahomes, because you know when he’s out there, something exciting is gonna happen.”
Baltimore Ravens safety
“That’s a hard question because me and [49ers cornerback Richard] Sherman are really good friends. Me and [Chiefs defensive lineman] Frank Clark are really good friends. It’s hard, man. It’s tough. It’s going to be a great game.”
Saints tight end
“Both offenses really use and really figure out a way to get their tight end involved. [Chiefs coach] Andy Reid really creates plays with Travis Kelce and the same with [49ers tight end] George Kittle. Big guys that run well, run well after the catch, run well after the first contact. That’s gonna be tough because both of them are key in their offensive production. I’m not sure [who will win]. That’s gonna be a tough one.
“San Fran’s defense is good. But I feel like there’s a blueprint out, and I feel like there’s a way to beat ’em. I’m more excited about the offense. I feel like it could be a high-scoring game. Maybe one for the record books.”
Ravens running back
“Man, I don’t even care, man. For real, man. But I know it’s two good teams. Mahomes is a beast. The Chiefs, they’re hot. San Fran, tough defense, I love the way they run the football. It’s just going to be a great game, man. I’m looking forward to it. I mean, I hate it, man. I hate it. … I’m going to watch. I’m a fan of football. No matter how bad it hurts or stings I’m a fan of the game. I love watching the game so I’m always going to be tuned in.”
New England Patriots special-teamer
“I don’t really make Super Bowl picks. Two great teams. Obviously they’ve proven to be the two best teams over the course of the season. I think it’ll be a really fantastic game. Great quarterback play, great defense, great players all over the field. But I don’t make predictions. I just hope everybody’s healthy and everybody plays a game that they can be proud of and we’ll see how it goes.”
Jaguars defensive end
“For me, I don’t got a team. I think it’s going to be a really good game. You have probably the best offense in the NFL versus the best defense in the NFL. The defensive line for the 49ers are playing at an unbelievable level right now and you have Kansas City’s offense that’s putting up points that people don’t do regularly. I feel like it’s going to be a good battle. It’s going to be a great battle. So I think the battle is going to be won with 49ers offense and Kansas City’s defense. It’s going to be a good game.”
As a defensive guy, do you lean toward the best defensive team?
“I want to go with the best defense but I want to go with the best player. Patrick Mahomes, he’s a generational player. You can’t bet against a generational talent like that.”
Arizona Cardinals safety
“I see a high, prolific offense [with the Chiefs] versus a gritty defense that gets after the quarterback that gets their hands on the football [with the 49ers]. I’m just very excited to see that matchup. Same thing with the other side of the ball — the Chiefs are doing a lot better getting turnovers. I know Tyrann [Mathieu] helped a lot with that. I’m just excited to see the defense really.”
AFC Legends captain
“At this point I just don’t [have a pick] right now. These teams are outstanding. They are both extremely talented. What I think it’s going to come down to, though, is the 49ers’ defensive line versus Patrick Mahomes and all the weapons that he has on offense.
“If they’re able to put pressure on Patrick Mahomes and make him throw under duress, [that] doesn’t allow him to extend the play. They are most explosive when he extends the play and runs around and finds that open receiver way downfield. Or he takes off. I think that could be the determining factor of the game, but right now I’m keeping my powder dry for another few days until I see the injury report.”