LIVing on a prayer

Chiefs, 49ers face off in Super Bowl LIV

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LIVing on a prayer

The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will compete in Super Bowl LIV.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will compete in Super Bowl LIV.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will compete in Super Bowl LIV.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will compete in Super Bowl LIV.

Story by TJ Wall, Sports Editor

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Named after the great Vince Lombardi, the coveted Lombardi Trophy is once again up for grabs and we are down to only two teams: the Kansas City Chiefs representing the AFC and the San Francisco 49ers representing the NFC. Both teams are powerhouses in their own respects, but only one team can come out on top. The game will take place on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT, and will air on FOX. Here’s a preview of what to watch for:

Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chiefs, led by last season’s MVP Patrick Mahomes, have — up to this point — been an offensive force like no other. The mismatches this dynamic offense produces leaves opposing defensive coordinators shaking in their boots while attempting to piece together something resembling a game plan to “stop” Mahomes and his squad. How can you stop them? That is the million dollar mystery that has yet to be solved.

Similarly to the LSU Tigers in this year’s National Championship, head coach Andy Reid and his offensive genius has fully embraced the notion that a great offense is the best defense. While this season was a statistical digression from last year’s MVP season, Mahomes’ performance has nonetheless been remarkable; he threw for 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 65.9 percent of his passes and obtaining a 76.3 quarterback rating (QBR) which is ranked second in the league.

As glorious as Mahomes’ professional career has been thus far, his success can be attributed not only to himself or coach Reid, but also to stars such as receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce — the keystones to this mismatch-creating offense.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Chiefs’ offense is the epitome of an NFL offense, but their defense is definitely not one to be looked down upon; players such as safety Tyrann Mathieu, defensive end Frank Clark, defensive tackle Chris Jones and cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland are threats that no offense would wish to face.

San Francisco 49ers:

On the other side of the coin, the 49ers are coming into this game with a completely different approach by embracing the philosophy that a great defense is the best offense. Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Dee Ford, and linebacker Kwon Alexander are all stars on a unit that looks to shine bright on Sunday night.

Bosa, the younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Nick Bosa, has had a stellar rookie season in San Francisco after being drafted out of Ohio St. with the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In his first season, Bosa has notched 47 total tackles — 32 of which were on his own — and nine sacks; he was also crowned defensive rookie of the year.

Along with one of the top ranked defenses in the league, the 49ers also have a strong passing attack led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and an exceptional run game featuring running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. However, Coleman was injured early in the 49ers’ NFC conference championship victory against the Green Bay Packers. After Coleman’s injury, Mostert took his place and ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. With Coleman’s injury still lingering and Mostert’s top-notch performance, Mostert will likely be the 49ers’ primary back going into Sunday’s game. After his historical performance, the Chiefs’ defense will certainly be keeping an eye out for Mostert, but they better be careful because the moment they zone in on Mostert is the moment that Garoppolo will hit Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders or George Kittle for six.

What to Watch for:

The Chiefs will score almost every time they touch the ball, and this will force the 49ers to retaliate with more passing; when the 49ers rely primarily on their passing game, the Chiefs win. It will be interesting, however, to see how the Chiefs contain the 49ers’ passing attack which will stretch their defense thin.

So far this postseason, the 49ers have mainly relied on their run game, so we don’t know what their passing attack will look like when it is at the forefront of their offensive gameplan. What we do know is that Samuel, Sanders and Kittle will cause major trouble for the Chiefs, and it will be hard to key in on one aspect of their game.

Mathieu will likely be matched up with Kittle, and even if Mathieu succeeds in neutralizing that huge threat the Chiefs will still have to find a way to lock down Samuel and Sanders while keeping pressure on Garoppolo and forcing the ball out of his hands. Will the Chiefs be able to successfully contain the 49ers’ offense even if they force them to stray from their forté in their running game? That is a key point to keep track of.

If the Chiefs can’t find a solution to stop the 49ers offense, they still have a large safety net in their own star-studded offense. Hill and Kelce are game-changers that will flip the entire game upside-down if they’re not appropriately accounted for. A vital matchup to watch will be whoever is assigned to Hill; the 49ers will likely alternate between Sherman and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Witherspoon has the speed, but Sherman is an experienced veteran. On top of this, safety Jaquiski Tartt will have to cover Kelce; even with two talented corners taking turns covering Hill and an exceptional safety in Tartt covering Kelce, the two can never be fully co

ntained, and if Bosa, Ford and Alexander don’t do their job and keep Mahomes on his toes, there is no doubt in my mind that the Chiefs will put up at least five touchdowns.

Final Prediction:

As Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier said, this is a game in which an “unstoppable force meets [an] immovable object.” The 49ers are the better overall team; they arguably have the best defense along with the second ranked rushing attack in the league. Despite this, the Chiefs’ offense is way too high-powered for even the best defense in the league to contain. The mismatches the Chiefs’ offense creates along with a defense that has significantly improved since last year will be too much for Kyle Shanahan to handle. I predict that the Chiefs will win with a final score of 34-23.