Isiah Pacheco has been the engine that keeps the Kansas City Chiefs offense running in 2023, and that has not stopped deep into the postseason. The Chiefs' second-year running back has shined on the big stage with an ability to rush for the tough yards the Chiefs need to keep drives alive. Pacheco is also always on the verge of breaking off a big play to put the Chiefs on top.
For the Chiefs to win back-to-back Super Bowls, Pacheco will need to have a big game, and I believe the 49ers have shown a weakness against the run in the 2023 postseason.
The 49ers boast a great front seven that has given teams a hard time in 2023, but they have shown a weakness to teams that stick to the run game. In the 2023 playoffs, the Packers and the Lions ran the ball effectively, both teams breaking the century mark on the ground. Both teams, when sticking to the run, were able to get the hard yards they needed, but also were very effective in the play-action game because Niners defense was forced to respect the ground game.
Divisional Round: Aaron Jones
When the Green Bay Packers traveled to San Francisco for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, Aaron Jones was coming off a 21-carry, 118-yard, and 3-touchdown game against the Dallas Cowboys. Jones and the Green Bay offense continued that run against the 49ers. Throughout the game, he successfully ran the ball against the front seven of the 49ers defense.
For most of the game, Jones was accountable for tough yards needed to move the chains for the Jordan Love-led offense, but early in the fourth quarter, Jones ripped off a 53-yard scamper to give the Packers great field position. That great run would go to waste on a missed 41-yard field goal by Anders Carlson.
Jones was a critical piece in the Packers offense, forcing the 49ers defense to respect the run, allowing the play-action-pass to be effective. Jones would finish the game with 18 carries for 108 yards. This means the 49ers defense allowed 6 yards per carry to Jones on the ground.
Conference Championship: David Montgomery, and Jahmyr Gibbs
In the NFC Conference Championship, the Detroit Lions employed the two-headed dragon of David Montgomery and rookie sensation Jahmyr Gibbs. Between the pair, the Lions ran the ball for 138 yards on the ground and controlled the clock until the game unraveled for Dan Campbell's team in the fourth quarter.
One interesting stat was that 10 out of Montgomery's 15 carries were between the tackles. The Lions were able to attack the interior of the 49ers' defensive line and had a lot of success. This helped the Lions extend drives, especially in the short-yardage game. Montgomery finished the game with 15 carries for 93 yards for a staggering 6.2 yards per carry. Gibbs was used as more of a change of pace back and in the passing game, but he still finished the game with 12 carries for 45 yards for 3.8 yards per carry.
Superbowl 58: Isaiah Pacheco
In 2023, Pacheco has been a consistent contributor to the Chiefs offense that, at times, stuttered when Pacheco was not in the lineup. Fortunately for Kansas City, Pacheco has remained healthy in the postseason and has taken his game to new heights.
This postseason, Pacheco has 63 carries for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns with a 4.0 yards/carry average. The emphasis on feeding Pacheco regularly has balanced the offense for greater efficiency in the playoffs.
Pacheco runs with fury and raises this offense to another level. The Chiefs offense will have to stick to the running game because the 49ers have shown they are prone to giving up the big play when the opposing offense sticks to the running game. Combining the Chiefs' offensive line and Pacheco's angry running style will be the keys to winning Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.
I predict the Chiefs' offensive line will buckle in and Pacheco will have a monster day on the biggest stage. Final prediction for Pacheco: 21 carries for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns in a Chiefs victory.