Super Bowl LIV Preview

100 years. 

 

Century milestones are special. 100 years is past the lifetime of most humans who will live on this planet, so a century serves to link the past with the present to see how much has changed. In the case of the National Football League, although the league has become a national phenomenon, the game it regulates still has the same fundamental action. The Super Bowl is a highly anticipated television event, and many people will be trying to predict the outcome. It may be a good idea to learn who will be teams people competing.

 

Representing the American Football Conference: The Kansas City Chiefs 

It is fitting one of the teams which played in the original Super Bowl found its way to the 100 year anniversary of the sport. But these guys play offense a lot different than back in the day. A football field is 57,600 square feet. The Chiefs are not afraid to use all of it to get into the end zone. The main factor everyone likes to point to is how fast their receivers are. The biggest problem for opposing defenses is Tyreek Hill, but Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins can also fly. But none of that speed would matter if they did not have a quarterback who can accurately get them the ball. Patrick Mahomes, to put it lightly, can provide that for a team. When watching him, it really seems like he can potentially make any throw under any amount of pressure. Teams might’ve just been able to game plan to take away the deep ball, but that would require safeties not watching the middle of the field as much or coming up with creative blitzes to get pressure on the quarterback. The problem with that is the middle of the field would become more open. If a team leaves the middle of the field, Travis Kelce would get wide open, if he’s not already.

What is weird about the Chiefs is despite the offensive firepower they have displayed this year, they were never really the favorites to make it out of the AFC. There may be several reasons for this. New England was the popular choice to make it out of the AFC at the beginning of the year, but then Baltimore beat New England and took over as the front runner. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes missed some time with injury, which also drove some of the national attention away. It could also be that Kansas City does not have Kareem Hunt anymore to bolster the running attack. Not that Damien Williams is not talented, but it feels like a downgrade from the initial team which broke out last year. People might also have questions about the defense. Again, it is not bad, but it also is not as respected as some other defenses that have been on display in previous Super Bowls. And then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room: Coaching legend Andy Reid has never won a Super Bowl. Yes, some of his teams with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs have had some devastating playoff losses. But Andy Reid is incredible after weeks off, so the team should be properly prepared. And if the Chiefs are, it will be very hard to stop them. 

Representing the National Football Conference: The San Francisco 49ers

In the history of the Super Bowl, there are four teams that are seen as having dynasties. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots, and the San Francisco 49ers. During the 49ers dynasty, they became one of the first teams to emphasize throwing the ball to play makers in space, much like what their opponent is going to try to do. However, these 49ers have a different offensive identity. Especially in the playoffs, they have run the football with incredible success. The interesting part of the 49ers rushing attack is that it isn’t centered around one back in particular. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert are all capable running backs who can get going at the right time. And if one of them does get going, expect the 49ers to keep giving the running back performing well the ball. No good rushing attack is complete without a good offensive line, but in this situation, they have some help. George Kittle is a tight end who seems to enjoy hitting people and can also run routes as good as the better tight ends in the league. Kyle Juszczyk has brought the fullback position back from the dead with his stellar blocking and versatility. The defense also seems to not have a weakness because they have experience, with guys like Richard Sherman, and youth, with guys like Nick Bosa. All things considered, this is a very well rounded football team built for a Super Bowl run. 

However, not many people said that at the beginning of the year. The 49ers have not been good for several years and people underestimated the moves they made in the off season and what having Jimmy Garoppolo for a full year would do. Speaking of Garoppolo, he has had many people who believed in him as a quarterback, including the great Bill Belichick. But he has also had some doubters too. If the 49ers need to start throwing the ball to win the game, Garoppolo will likely have to rely on guys like Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and the previously mentioned George Kittle as targets in order to silence the haters. Then there is the coach. Kyle Shanahan is a respected football mind, but there is a dark cloud that hangs over his reputation: 28-3. Many people attribute Shanahan’s play-calling as one of the main reasons the Atlanta Falcons blew Super Bowl LI. However, that was then, and now he has the chance to redeem his reputation and lead a historic franchise to another Super Bowl win. 

Prediction 

This Super Bowl should be more offensively oriented than the last one. The Chiefs have started out slow the past two games and it never really came back to bite them. I do not expect the Chiefs to start out slow this time, which means the 49ers are going to have to execute every time they get the ball. If the 49ers offense can limit the Chiefs’ possessions, they have a shot. The issue is the Chiefs’ defense already showed they can hold off a potent rushing attack enough for their offense to get started. Yes, the Tennessee Titans and the San Francisco 49ers have very different running games, but it still shows the Chiefs can play in the trenches. Jimmy Garoppolo will be asked to do a lot in this game, and I don’t think it is going to be enough. I predict the Chiefs will win this game 35-24. 

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