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Marquee matchup in Miami

by Ben Jansen

On Sunday, Feb. 2, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will go head to head in the biggest football game of the year as Super Bowl LIV kicks off from Miami, Florida. The two teams are polar opposites in many ways; Kansas City has a high scoring approach while San Francisco loves to run the football and grind it out on defense, but both teams are undoubtedly the best from each of their conferences.

The Chiefs were appointed NFL’s next great team after last year, when quarterback Patrick Mahomes burst onto the scene winning the MVP award. After a brutal offsides penalty cost them the AFC Championship in 2019, Kansas City has redeemed themselves this season. Despite falling to a 20 point deficit in their first playoff game of the postseason, Mahomes showed how explosive his offense can be by leading the way back as the Chiefs scored 51 points in the comeback win against the Houston Texans. 

After the comeback, Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill fought to gain a well earned 35-24 victory against the red hot Tennessee Titans to clinch the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1970. The game also holds significant meaning for head coach Andy Reid, who has yet to win a Super Bowl in his 20 years as a head coach.

However, despite preparing to coach the game of his life, Reid is joking his way through the week.“I’m fired up to go to Miami. I need to get on a diet so I can fit in my clothes and we can go do our thing. Very proud, very proud of everybody and the job that they did,” said Reid after the AFC Championship win, during his post game press conference.

On the other side of things, the 49ers go into the Super Bowl seeking their sixth championship, which would tie the NFL record. Led by Jimmy Garappolo and a star studded defense, San Francisco cruised through the National Football Conference (NFC), winning both of their playoff games by 17 points each and never trailing throughout the postseason.

While the Chiefs are known for how explosive they are, the 49ers are much more methodical. In the NFC Championship game they only threw the ball eight times, compared to the Chiefs who passed 35 times in the AFC Championship game. However the Niners are much better on the ground as they ran for 285 yards in the NFC Championship game. 

Despite the differences in style, both teams are extremely effective. San Francisco ranks second in offensive points per game and Kansas City is ranked fifth in the same metric. However, both sides know that defense will be just as important. 

We’re back playing a mobile quarterback and one who could throw better than any we’ve faced,” said Nick Bosa, 49ers defensive lineman and front runner for defensive rookie of the year. “One of the biggest things is trying to keep him in the pocket and not let him escape when he wants to escape and make him uncomfortable.” 

San Francisco has been one of the best defenses in the league all season, ranking second in yards allowed and high in many other categories. “Obviously they have a ton of playmakers on the defense with the defensive line, linebackers and in the secondary,” said Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “They have guys that have experience and they have young guys that are super talented.” 

With the two teams who have clearly been forerunners all year, along with plenty of young talent all over the field, this is set to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. The Chiefs are favored by one point heading into the last NFL game of the season this Sunday.

Ben Jansen can be reached at benjamin.jansen@spartans.ut.edu

 

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