Super Bowl LIV Preview

In this article, Charles Street Times Sports Editor Joseph Frescott will give you everything you need to know heading into the big game. 

Joseph Frescott, Sports Editor

 

 

49ers Road to the Super Bowl

The 49ers have been one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this season. After a disappointing 4-12 season following the injury of starting QB Jimmy Garapolo in 2019, not many people had faith in this team coming into the season. However, they quickly quieted all of the doubters, as they jumped to an 8-0 start on the season. With a lethal rushing game on offense and a strong front 7 on defense, San Francisco was looking like the team to beat early in the season. Unfortunately, the 49ers struggled in the middle of the season, as they battled through injuries to key players such as Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford. Because of these mid season losses, the 49ers found themselves a wildcard team heading into week 17. After losing to the Seahawks early in the season, they got their redemption, winning a close game and securing the division title with a record of 13-3. With this win, the 49ers were granted the number 1 seed in the NFC. After Minnesota’s huge upset against the Saints in round 1, the 49ers found themselves matched up against the Vikings in the Divisional Round. San Francisco proved to the rest of the NFL that they were the team to beat, as by holding Dalvin Cook to 18 rushing yards, they blew out the Vikings by a score of 27-10. In the Conference Championship, they found themselves in a favorable match up against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. In the regular season, they blew out the Packers 37-8. As it usually does, history repeated itself again on Sunday night, as running back Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns in San Fran’s blowout win.

Chiefs Road to the Super Bowl

As for the Chiefs, their run to the Super Bowl was a little more predictable. After a disappointing loss to New England in the AFC Championship last season, Kansas City was primed for another playoff run this season. In the regular season, the Chiefs had a series of impressive wins, beating top teams such as the Ravens, Patriots, and Vikings on their way to a 13-3 record. Coming into the playoffs, the Chiefs were red hot, but were overlooked because of the hype that the Baltimore Ravens had generated with MVP favorite Lamar Jackson. Taking this personally, the Chiefs destroyed the Texans in the Divisional Round, and hoped to see the Ravens in Conference Championship. However, with Derrick Henry leading the improbable Titans run, they never got their chance. Playing at home against the seemingly unstoppable Titans run attack, the Chiefs proved why they were the best team in the AFC, beating the Titans convincingly while only holding Derrick Henry to a measly 69 yards rushing.

X-Factors

Coming into the Super Bowl, there are players from both sides that could have a huge impact on the outcomes of the game. The first player is Cheifs WR Mecole Hardman. During the season, Hardman made a name for himself as a return specialist and a big play receiver down the field. With his speed and explosiveness, he has the potential to break out for a kick/punt return TD at any given time. With Andy Reed’s crafty play calling, watch out for how he chooses to use Hardman in the Chiefs offense this Sunday. As for the 49ers, Jimmy Garapolo is the biggest X-factor for them. Coming into the game knowing that the Chiefs have an explosive offense, the 49ers must be prepared to pass the ball a lot if they get down big early on. This means that there is a good chance that the 49ers hopes at a Super Bowl are in the hands of Jimmy G. In their playoff run so far, he has not been tested very often, as their defense and run game have been stellar. Knowing this, many people question whether Jimmy G has the ability to limit the turnovers and keep up with the Chiefs passing game in the NFL’s biggest stage. If he is able to do so, the 49ers have a great chance of winning their first Super Bowl since 1995. 

Match Ups to Look Out For

In the biggest game of the season, there are various notable match ups that you should look out for. Firstly, there is the tight end matchup between Travis Kelce and George Kittle. This match up features two of the best in the NFL, with many arguing who is the number 1. In the postseason so far, Kelce has been battling through a knee injury, but has still been playing lights out, having a total of 13 catches for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns in two games. As for Kittle, he has been relatively quiet in the playoffs, only having 4 catches for 35 yards. Despite these low numbers, Kittle is bound for a breakout performance, and the Super Bowl is lining up to be the perfect time for the star TE to get back on track. Another huge match up that you should watch out for is Nick Bosa and 49ers top tier pass rush versus Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs unstoppable pass attack. Rookie Nick Bosa and veteran Dee Ford has led the 49ers front 7 this season that has totaled for 48 sacks. These two will need to play very well this Sunday, as Patrick Mahomes has been playing out of his mind all postseason. If they can pressure Mahomes and force him to get rid of the ball quickly, the 49ers can eliminate the big plays that the Chiefs offense thrives on. However, if they cannot get to the QB, the 49ers will have a lot of trouble due to Kansas City’s explosive offense. 

Super Bowl Prediction

Based on both teams performance this postseason, Super Bowl LIV is lining up to be a classic. With both teams having multiple play makers on both sides of the field, this year’s Super Bowl is bound to make up for last years disappointment. As for who I think will win this game, I think that the 49ers have more offensive firepower and less holes in their defense. Despite Vegas picking the Chiefs as the favorite, my prediction is 38-37 49ers.