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The argument for a defensive MVP in Super Bowl 54

Super Bowl 54 is expected to turn into a shootout, which means plenty of opportunities for offensive players to shine. But the Chiefs and 49ers offer big time defensive players who could grab the MVP award.

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, defensive end Nick Bosa, and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander celebrate by sliding on the wet field after the final play against Washington at FedExField. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs face off Sunday evening in the 2020 Super Bowl, and most people expect a shootout. The point total is settling at 53.5 on game day, which is the fifth highest in Super Bowl history.

A majority of people expect the Chiefs to get another big outing from Patrick Mahomes, resulting in him, Travis Kelce, or Tyreek Hill as a likely MVP candidate. Mahomes is almost an even money favorite at +115, while Kelce and Hill are tied for sixth best odds at +2000. If the 49ers win, bettors likely expect either another monster game from Raheem Mostert (+900), a bounce-back effort from Jimmy Garoppolo (+225), or a huge game from All Pro tight end George Kittle (+1600).

But what would it take for a defensive MVP in Super Bowl 54?

Chiefs options

Garoppolo has shown a penchant for one bad mistake in many of his starts this season. Given the pressure of the Super Bowl, could one mistake pile up into multiple? Doug Farrar’s fearless Super Bowl prediction is Tyrann Mathieu (+6000) securing two interceptions and one touchdown to win the MVP award. If Mathieu can make that happen he could secure the rare defensive MVP. Mahomes is a huge favorite, so it’s going to take that kind of epic performance from a Chiefs defensive player to grab the award.

49ers options

A more likely scenario involves the 49ers defense. If San Francisco wins the Super Bowl, it will likely require a strong effort against Mahomes. I doubt they shut him down entirely, but if they get him on the run and struggling, they could build a lead that their run game makes insurmountable.

The best way for the 49ers to make that happen is with their pass rush. ESPN’s Field Yates offered up this ridiculous postseason stat for the 49ers defensive front.

That’s a small sample size, but it lines up with a regular season Bill Barnwell cited: When Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander were on the field together during the 2019 regular season (108 defensive snaps due to Alexander and Ford missing extensive time with injuries), opposing quarterbacks posted a QBR of 3.0.

With that in mind, your best bet might be sprinkling some money across the four defensive linemen. Their MVP odds are as follows:

Nick Bosa: +2000
Dee Ford: +8500
DeForest Buckner: +10000
Arik Armstead: +12500

Defensive players have claimed ten MVP awards in the history of the Super Bowl, so it remains a long shot bet. However, this is a matchup where if you think the 49ers can win this game, a defensive MVP makes a lot of sense.

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