After 21 weeks of games and then playoff action, the 2023 NFL season is coming to an end. Super Bowl LVIII will be hosted in the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on February 11th. One of the biggest sporting events in the World, this year the Super Bowl will see reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs battling it out against the San Francisco 49ers. A repeat of Super Bowl LIV in 2020, when the Chiefs came from being 10 points down to beat the 49ers 31 – 20, this game promises to be a close one.
The last time they faced each other was on October 23rd and the Chiefs came out on top by three touchdowns. In fact, the 49ers are yet to beat the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes as quarterback.
The Chiefs are heading into their sixth Super Bowl, and their fourth in the last five years, an incredible statistic. They could win back-to-back Super Bowls, something which has not been done since the New England Patriots won in both 2004 and 2005 with legend Tom Brady as quarterback.
On the other hand, while the 49ers have had eight appearances in the Super Bowl, they have not won since 1994. With an incredible pool of experienced talent, the 49ers are favourites for many. However, the same was said about the Philadelphia Eagles who the Chiefs beat in the Super Bowl last year.
Mahomes is looking to win his third Super Bowl ring at only 28 years old. He is widely considered to be the best quarterback in the current NFL, but statistically he has had one of the worst seasons of his career. The quarterback for the 49ers is Brock Purdy, who is only 24 and was the team’s final pick of the 2022 draft.
The Chiefs’ season got off to an inconsistent start, however they have shown their skills in the postseason, as they often do, and Mahomes seems to play his best in the big games. Like the rest of his team, tight end Travis Kelce got off to a slow start this season with only 93 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns, the first time he has finished below 1,000 receiving yards since 2015. However, in the three playoff games, he has had 23 receptions for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
For the 49ers, Christian McCaffrey is likely to play a big part in the game. He led the league in rushing yards this season with 1,459 and was second among running backs with 14 touchdowns. He also had 67 catches for 564 yards and seven touchdowns. His streak of 17 games straight with at least one touchdown snapped in mid-November emphasises his talent.
Looking at the coaches, Andy Reid for Kansas City is one of the most highly regarded offensive minds in NFL history. He is undoubtedly the more experienced of the two, having been head coach at the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012 and then at Kansas City from 2013 until the present. This will be his 5th Super Bowl appearance as head coach, and he already has two wins to his name. In comparison, Kyle Shanahan has only been head coach at San Francisco since 2017 but he is considered one of the best young offensive minds in the NFL.
Shanahan and McCaffrey will be wanting to repeat their fathers’ legacies. Shanahan was a teenager when his father, Mike Shanahan, was head coach for the Denver Broncos when they won the Super Bowl in YEAR. McCaffrey was only a baby when his father, Ed McCaffrey was a wideout and helped the Broncos to the title.
Defensively, the 49ers are not quite where they were last year when they had a No. 1 ranked defence whereas the Chiefs have their best defence of the Mahomes era this season.
All in all, most people are saying the 49ers should win, but then equally you should never bet against Patrick Mahomes.
Image: Mike Morbeck via Wikimedia Commons