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Lighting up Neon City

49ers to face Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII

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The winter months are every football fans favorite time of the year. There are college bowl games, NFL playoffs and Cowboy fans complaining about how they should’ve been in the big game. All of this culminates in the grand finale, the Super Bowl.

This year’s matchup is between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. They both had completely different paths through the season, but both overcame challenges to get to this point, in a match that is sure to be a spectacle.

The Chiefs had an up-and-down season. They started 6-1 and looked like the Chiefs of the past, except, they weren’t. There were many issues that started getting exploited by teams during the season, which led them to finish with an 11-6 record.

The main issue was the dropped passes by the receiving corp. These mishaps caused the offense to stall and lose momentum on important drives. The Chiefs led the league in dropped passes and drop rate, with 44 out of 597 passes dropped. This may not seem like a lot, but many of these took place in big moments or led to turnovers that cost games.

One of the big reasons the Chiefs were able to stay afloat during the poor offensive performances, was their defense. It is one of the best defenses in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is one of the best in the business, as he knows how to get a defense fired up. Their pass defense gave up the fourth-fewest passing yards a game. The key for Spagnuolo’s defense is the blitz. He knows how to pressure a quarterback into rushing a throw or making a bad decision.

A big reason the D is so strong is one of the big men in the trenches, Chris Jones. Although he was a contract holdout in the first game, he was still able to reach 10.5 sacks on the season.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a big reason why the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the past five years. He was drafted by the Chiefs 10th overall in the 2017 draft out of Texas Tech. The Chiefs were looking for the successor to Alex Smith, a decent quarterback who couldn’t seem to get them over the hump.

After one year of sitting on the bench, Mahomes got the starting job and did not disappoint. Since taking over the starting role, the Chiefs have won two super bowls and made it to the big game four times. Mahomes has also won two MVPs. He threw for 4,183 yards this season, along with 27 touchdowns while maintaining a 63.0 QBR, all of which rank in the top 10 at his position.

The man that’s been getting all the buzz on the team this season has been Taylor Swift — oops, sorry, I mean Travis Kelce. Although a lot of this attention has come from his girlfriend, it would be ignorant to let that be only thing that grabs your attention. Since being drafted in 2013 by the Chiefs, Kelce has piled up yards, touchdowns and receptions to put him in the argument for the greatest tight end of all time. Most recently, he broke Jerry Rice’s record for the most receptions in NFL postseason history. This season, Kelce caught 93 passes for 984 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Even with these two superstars, the most important person on the team is head coach Andy Reid. Without him calling plays and managing the game, the Chiefs would not be in the position they are. This next game may be his biggest challenge, though, as he has to plan for the most talented team in the NFL, the 49ers.

It’s hard to find any weaknesses in this 49ers team. From top to bottom, the roster is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They have a top-3 edge rusher, a top-3 linebacker, a great secondary, a top-3 tight end, a top-10 receiver, and the best running back in the NFL. However, their whole offense depends on one man.

Quarterback Brock Purdy is in the driver’s seat, and everything lies on his shoulders. He’s done a great job so far, not just meeting expectations, but exceeding them. He is the perfect underdog story that everyone loves. He was drafted with the 262nd — and last — pick in the 2022 draft. This earned him the nickname “Mr. Irrelevant.” Safe to say, he became relevant very fast. He started off as the third-string quarterback, but quickly became the starter when both QBs ahead of him went down with season ending injuries. He never looked back. He’s had his struggles, but every young quarterback does. All that matters is that he never fails to show up when his team needs him the most. Some people say he’s just a game manager due to the crazy talent around him, but for being just a game manager, he makes it look “Purdy” easy, finishing the season with 4,280 yards, 31 touchdowns, and an NFL best 72.7 QBR, ranking in the top five at his position.

Stars are all over this team, especially on offense. Tight end George Kittle had the most receiving yards of any TE this season, being the only one to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Running back Christian McCaffrey was the best offensive player in the NFL this year. He had the most scrimmage yards and touchdowns in the league, with 2,023 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The star receivers are where the 49ers will get you. Brandon Aiyuk has a team leading 1,342 yards this season, while Deebo Samuel was able to able to get 527 yards after the catch. It’s safe to say they are going to be next to impossible to stop.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have game wreckers everywhere, but the two that stand above the rest are defensive end Nick Bosa, and linebacker Fred Warner. Bosa has been a wrecking ball ever since he got into the league. Despite drawing double and triple teams every game, he still recorded 10.5 sacks. Even if the line takes care of Bosa, Mahomes has to be wary of where Warner is lurking. Warner has caused four fumbles and four interceptions, which both rank in the top 10. Warner causes teams to avoid playing in the middle of the field. Players always have to look around to avoid this hard-hitting linebacker.

San Francisco’s coaching staff is perfect at managing all these talents. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan trusts his players to execute the game plan. He is an excellent play caller and always seems to know what the perfect play is. However, Reid is the biggest coaching challenge he will have faced this playoff run.

Both teams had their scares on the way to Super Bowl LVIII, but great teams find ways to win.

All the signs point to the 49ers winning it all, but the Chiefs have Mahomes, which has been enough. Kansas City should aim to get out to a quick start and test the Niners defense with pass plays all around the field. If Kelce can find the open seams, he should be Mahomes’ top target. However, even if the Chiefs execute all this, the San Francisco has a juggernaut of a team. One of their offensive players will have a standout game as long as Purdy does what he’s been doing.

Look for the 49ers to be champions of Super Bowl LVIII, 38-24.

Category: Sports