Sizing Up Super Bowl 54
Source: Ed Zurga/Associated Press
Almost all season long the San Francisco 49ers have been at the top of the NFC, getting off to an 8-0 start out of the gate and looking dominant the entire time finishing as the #1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs meanwhile, finished 2nd in the AFC clinching a bye on the final weekend of the regular season and have looked like legitimate contenders since last season when they had the top seed only to fall short in the Conference Championship game.
There was never a doubt that either of these teams could be the ones to get here and now that they both have, let's look a little more in-depth on each side as Super Bowl 54 should be one for the ages:
AFC CHAMPIONS - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
In just his second season as the starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who in my opinion is the best player in the NFL at any position, is setup for his official coming out party. The Kansas City Chiefs are much improved on defense this season, which was highly suspect last year and has turned into one of the team's strengths.
This is a well-oiled machine that play for veteran head coach Andy Reid, who is the 6th winningest coach in NFL history and has the most career wins to never win a Super Bowl. He has only been this far once before in his 20-year career, as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles losing a close one 24-21 to a New England Patriots team led by a young Tom Brady in Super Bowl 39, and it has now it has taken him 15 years to get back to this point.
No doubt for Reid this one is for him should they take home the big prize, as these players love playing for him. By winning the AFC Championship they are already taking home the Lamar Hunt trophy, named after Chiefs original owner Lamar Hunt and as a franchise are going back to the Super Bowl for the 1st time in 50 years since winning Super Bowl 4) as this is the team's 3rd trip ever to this big game, also losing in the very one back in 1967.
NFC CHAMPIONS - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
When the San Francisco 49ers acquired starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Nicknamed "Jimmy-G") at the 2017 trade deadline from the Patriots, they went 5-0 to finish the season once being installed as the starting QB for a 1-10 team.
You knew then that there was something special happening in a city having long history of winning in the NFL with 5 Super Bowl championships between 1981 and 1995, also getting there a 6th time just a few years back in Super Bowl 47 only to lose a really close one 34-31 to the "Ray Lewis Last Ride" Baltimore Ravens.
Unfortunately with high anticipation to start the 2018 year, Garoppolo tore his left ACL in Week 3 and the entire season became a write-off, falling to 4-12. But now with him back and healthy for his 1st full season as a starter, "Jimmy-G" has shown the world what he can do at the quarterback position now taking this team all the way to the Super Bowl in just one year.
They, like the Chiefs, also have a lot of weapons on offence particularly in the running game, with various backs and schemes that have sunk teams all year long. Plus even more so than Kansas City they too have one of the top-ranked defenses in the league all year long plus believed to be much higher rated than the Chiefs D.
Ironically enough, neither team had a 1000-yard runner although each have potent ground-game attacks with dual threats to go with quarterbacks that can use their legs and scramble, especially Mahomes who is one of the best at it. Also of note the leader and only player on either side to get 1000 receiving are the tight ends, as both Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and George Kittle of the 49ers are these 2 QB's favourite targets and each will be highly featured in this game.
The team that is more suited for playing with a lead and would have more trouble coming from behind is San Francisco, so it will be imperative they take an early lead. Kansas City can play either or, as they came from behind in both the last 2 rounds this postseason with their explosiveness in the passing game. Getting an early lead would be key for the Chiefs in this one as well, which would take the 49ers out of their usual game-plan.
One thing is for sure: It will take 60 minutes for either team to win this one, and while the "Niners" have proved all year they indeed are for real, I give the edge to KC's explosive passing game to cut through any defense and beat anyone in this league, and it will indeed be "Show Time" for Patrick Mahomes.