The stage is set for a historic Super Bowl LVIII as the Kansas City Chiefs, chasing their third Lombardi Trophy in five years, face off against the San Francisco 49ers, seeking redemption after their heartbreaking Super Bowl LIV loss. Can Patrick Mahomes cement his legacy and propel the Chiefs into dynasty territory, or will Brock Purdy orchestrate a San Francisco revenge victory? Buckle up for an offensive shootout, defensive adjustments, and a battle for footballing immortality. Don't miss this high-stakes clash between championship contenders, where narratives collide and legacies are made.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to cement themselves as an NFL dynasty, as they make their 4th Super Bowl appearance since 2020, against the San Francisco 49ers. If the Chiefs manage to pull off one more underdog victory in this year’s playoffs, they will join the Patriots (2x), Steelers, and Cowboys as the only teams to win 3 Super Bowls in 5 years.
At various points in the regular season, KC did not look nearly sharp enough to make a championship run. Unlike years past, their offense struggled for extended periods of time, after losing much of their receiving core. But on par with the level of greatness the Chiefs have embodied for the past half decade, they quickly morphed into a defensive juggernaut, holding their opponents to just 17.3 points per game in the regular season and 13.7 in the playoffs. They have already been able to dismantle three offensive minded teams on their road to Super Bowl LVIII, and they will need to do everything they can to continue to poke holes in the offensive schemes of a very talented team.
As for Mahomes, he is already following in the footsteps of other immortalized quarterbacks, with 2 Super Bowl wins and 3 NFC championships in his first 5 seasons. Legendary names such as Brady, Manning, and Montana are already peers of the young Mahomes. Adding a 3rd Lombardi Trophy to his collection, a feat only 4 other QBs have ever achieved, will undoubtedly make him one of the greatest American sports athletes of all time at just 28 years old.
The 49ers will be no easy task to overcome; they are stacked head to toe on both sides of the ball and led by a confident young QB, Brock Purdy, that personifies “calm, cool, and collected”. When healthy, they are almost unilaterally considered the best, and most well rounded team in the league.
They are also playing for arguably more than the Chiefs, as they have not won a Super Bowl since 1994, when they won for the 3rd time in 7 years. To make matters even more personal, the last time the Niners made the Super Bowl in 2020, they lost to KC, blowing a 21-10 lead halfway through the 4th quarter. This loss still stings for the Niners team and its fans just as much as it did 4 years ago, and they are certainly playing to not just win this year’s Super Bowl, but avenge their Super Bowl LIV loss.
In the 16 games their 3 biggest offensive weapons, Brock Purdy, Christin McCaffrey, and Deebo Samuel, have played together this year, San Francisco has outscored their opponents 529-239 and trailed less than 8% of the time. Purdy also has a ridiculous 34 to 3 touchdown-interception ratio in these games, using the plethora of weapons at his disposal to succeed.
Much of the unknown rests on the Chiefs’ defense. One of the biggest questions right now is, how will they align to combat the Niners’ 21 personnel offense. It is hard to cover an offense that is so unusual and so versatile. San Francisco has used this style of offense, which is distinguished by its 2 running backs and one tight end, nearly 40% of the time, far more than any other team. The Chiefs’ defense has had success against other 21 personnel offenses, but not against teams that use it as often and effectively as the Niners.
KC will need its defense, which has won them games all year, to settle in quickly and find a solution before too much damage is done by an offense that has been close to unbeatable. Will the defense rely on its linebackers to cover open space or will it move away from its base defense, banking on its run protection and pass rush to stay solid? These decisions will fall on defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who will have to gauge what is working best in the first quarter of the game.
Another huge factor in the game is KC’s pass rush and their ability to collapse the pocket around Purdy and pressure him into tight situations. For a QB of his caliber, Purdy has some difficulty keeping the ball safe, and KC will look to exploit this, as well as San Francisco’s unreliable pass protection, to disrupt the offense early on.
On paper, the Niners have what it takes to beat KC. They are not just an offensive team - they have great defensive linebackers that can close off the middle of the field very well and deter the Mahomes-Kelce connection. But the Chiefs have a way of making great teams, like the Ravens, look like shadows of their regular season selves. For years, the Chiefs have exploited the weaknesses of their opponents and watched them collapse under pressure. Everything goes out the window when you play KC - as many opposing players and coaches have noted before, there is a certain unbeatable aura that surrounds them.
Because of KC’s regular season ups and downs, oddsmakers were almost forced to set them as underdogs in the divisional round and conference championship. Once again, the Chiefs will be slight dogs in their next matchup, as they sit at around +106 odds (48.5% chances) to win the big game. It is no surprise that the vast majority of bettors are backing the Chiefs. Being at plus odds has incentivized many people to put their money on a team that has proved multiple times it can win on the biggest stage.
This year’s Super Bowl is different from all others because one of its biggest stories does not concern football. Pop icon Taylor Swift will bring in a whole new demographic of Super Bowl watchers that will surge the viewership to a projected all time high. The Swifties, and people who simply know her name and follow pop-culture outside of football, will be tuning in on Sunday to see Swift support her boyfriend, Travis Kelce. Since October, she has brought in an estimated 2 million new female viewers and this number is expected to drastically increase for the Super Bowl.