Super Bowl LIV Preview
In the first ever Super Bowl meeting between the two sides, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers travel to Miami on Sunday with hopes of seizing the Vince Lombardi trophy in the NFL’s historic 100th season. Seán McGill gives us a preview of the action.
In a post-season that has entertained and shocked fans in equal measure, the Chiefs and the 49ers have survived the playoffs, with one final hurdle between them and Super Bowl glory. However, the teams head to the Hard Rock Stadium with very different narratives surrounding them.
For the Chiefs, it’s all about capitalising on years of growing momentum. This season marked their fourth straight AFC West title, ensuring they reached the playoffs for the sixth time in head coach Andy Reid’s seven seasons in Kansas.
Despite this run of success, a Super Bowl appearance had eluded the Chiefs until this year. Their last and only appearance at the showpiece final came 50 years ago, when they overcame the Minnesota Vikings to claim the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.
While the Chiefs’ success comes after years of steady improvement, the 49ers have exploded into championship contention from seemingly nowhere. The San Francisco outfit dominated the NFC going 13-3 in the regular season, their first winning record since 2013.
Comparatively, the 49ers held a record of 4-12 in their last campaign. In his third season in the Golden State, head coach Kyle Shanahan has woken a sleeping giant, and hopes his 49ers can join the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers on six Super Bowl titles this Sunday.
Chiefs’ Season So Far
Reaching the playoffs was very much the minimum requirement for the Chiefs this season. Despite injury troubles for key players such as Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, Reid’s team managed a record of 12-4, claiming the No.2 seed in the AFC.
Boasting an offence that has shone all season, the Chiefs had confidence in their point-scoring ability, but it was the character shown in the playoffs that really stood out. Neither the Houston Texans nor the Tennessee Titans could see out their significant leads over the Chiefs, with the former leading 27-0 at halftime, only to lose 51-31, courtesy of a Patrick Mahomes masterclass.
Key Player – Patrick Mahomes
A team’s quarterback is often seen as its talisman, but none more so than Patrick Mahomes. On countless occasions this season, the Texas native has taken a game by the scruff of its neck and propelled the Chiefs to victory, exemplified best by their stunning playoff comeback against the Texans.
Mahomes walked into the season as the NFL’s reigning MVP and may well pick up the accolade for a second year running, although the extraordinary form of the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson could dash those hopes.
49ers’ Season So Far
After years of disappointment, the 49ers seemed to find the perfect balance in their squad this season. No team in the NFL conceded fewer points per game than Shanahan’s side, with only the Ravens scoring more points in the regular season.
Jimmy Garoppolo had arguably his best season to date, although the 49ers have been at their most dangerous when utilising their running game. The quarterback threw just eight passes in San Francisco’s dominant NFC Championship victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Key Player – Raheem Mostert
Raheem Mostert has become one of the NFL’s most explosive running backs, with only Tennessee’s Derrick Henry amassing more yards per carry in the regular season.
The 27-year-old ran riot against the Packers, running 220 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Mostert will be hoping he can replicate that form on Sunday in search of his first Super Bowl title.