Super Bowl LVIII (58) Prequel

Super Bowl LVIII (58) Prequel

AFC Kansas City Chiefs vs NFC San Francisco 49ers (-2) at 6:30pm Eastern on CBS.

These teams met 4 years ago in Super Bowl LIV (54). In that game the 49ers led 20-10 in the fourth quarter before the Chiefs exploded and won 31-20. 

Many of the same players on both teams are still around. The main difference is that the 49ers now have Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy. Last year Purdy led the 49ers to the NFC Title Game. Purdy was injured in the game and the 49ers lost badly. The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions. They are looking to be the first team in 20 years to win back to back Super Bowls. The Chiefs are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in the last five years. They are looking to win their third Super Bowl in five years and officially establish a dynasty.

Coaches Walrus Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan are both West Coast Offense disciples from the Bill Walsh coaching tree. Shanahan is the son of Mike Shanahan, who won consecutive Super Bowls 25 years ago in Denver. Although Reid and the younger Shanahan are both pass-happy, Reid finally won a pair of Super Bowls after being willing to run the ball to close out games. Shanahan has blown two fourth quarter double digit Super Bowl leads by stubbornly refusing to run the ball. 

In addition to Purdy, the 49ers have Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. The Chiefs have a 25th Century Buck Rodgers bionic man at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes also has plenty of weapons including Travis Kelce. 

These teams took different paths to get to the big game. The 49ers for most of the year appeared to be the most complete team in the NFL. They have a nasty defense along with their offensive weapons. They suffered a three game losing streak midseason and an embarrassing home loss late in the year against Baltimore. Yet they won everything else. The 49ers barely survived their playoff run despite being at home in both games. They were outplayed for most of the game against a Green Bay team that barely qualified for the playoffs. When Green Bay’s kicker missed a short field at the end of regulation, it allowed the 49ers to escape with a 27-24 win. In the NFC Title Game, Detroit stormed to a 24-7 halftime lead before suffering a meltdown. Detroit passed up a pair of field goals in favor of failed fourth down conversion tries. The 49ers received a gift touchdown when a badly overthrown ball that should have been intercepted instead bonked off a defender’s helmet into the arms of the receiver. The 49ers survived again 34-31 to house the George Halas Trophy.

The Chiefs had a more difficult path to the big game. After five straight years of hosting the AFC Title Game, this year they had to play road playoff games. In the divisional round, Buffalo’s kicker missed a makable field goal at the end of regulation as the Chiefs survived 27-24. In pouring rain, the Chiefs sixth straight AFC Title Game would not be at home. At top seeded Baltimore, the Chiefs won 17-10 when Baltimore self-destructed in the red zone. The Ravens gave away the tying touchdown with a goal line fumble. The Chiefs won the Lamar Hunt Trophy named after their late founder and owner the hard way. This year the Chiefs offense was less smooth than in years past. The Chiefs lacked the deep ball threat, settling for more dinking and dunking. 

The game is being played in Las Vegas, and Sin City has lived up to its reputation. Many Super Bowls feature a needless distraction that may or may not end up weighing on the game. Mahomes already has a wife who talks trash and a brother who cannot stay out of trouble. Now Mahomes’s father has been arrested again for driving while intoxicated. Mahomes has blocked out outside noise all year, and will have to do so again if he is to win another ring. 

The 49ers are slight favorites. They have the best running back in the league in McCaffrey. Their defense is ferocious. Yet the Chiefs have the better coach and a quarterback in Mahomes with the potential to be the very best ever. Betting against the Chiefs is a foolish move. Four years ago the 49ers defense had Mahomes figured out for three quarters. That was simply not good enough. Mahomes is the best player in the NFL. Bet on the very best. When the game is over, expect the Chiefs to be holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy and being declared a dynasty. Upset special, Chiefs win outright


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