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Super Bowl LIV: 49ers vs Chiefs

Super Bowl LIV: 49ers vs Chiefs
snladmin
Sunday,February 2,2020
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It’s somehow here already. 17 weeks of fixtures to see off 2019 and January’s playoff games are in the books, leaving us with one game of what our friends across The Pond call “football”.

Who do we have this year?

In the red corner, the team who finished with the second worst record in 2018, but have mounted a superb transformation into a mighty offense and a swashbuckling defense, please welcome the San Francisco 49ers.

You will likely remember the New England Patriots coming from 28-3 down to beat the Atlanta Falcons three years ago. The offensive coordinator for the Falcons that day was Kyle Shanahan. He got too conservative that day, trying to protect the lead, and it cost him dearly. In press conferences this week, the now head coach of the 49ers has responded to questions by saying not that he regretted his decisions that night, but that it has taught him a lead even that big isn’t enough. His offense is an imaginative and fluid one, with a creative running game and an acute willingness to focus on a perceived weakness of the opponent. They’ve gone for athletes on both sides of the ball in their player recruitment and, when you pair that with clever minds, you get a recipe for success.

The Niners have four first round draft picks in the front four of their defense, led by the superb rookie Nick Bosa. Their ability to pressure quarterbacks and to stop the run has made the team fearsome on both sides of the ball. They like to rotate the guys in and out, meaning they can use them more explosively and more selectively.

In the…er…other red corner, please welcome the Kansas City Chiefs. A phenomenally gifted offense, with pace galore and the best player on either side in Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball accurately and providing an additional weapon with his legs. We saw that to great effect two weeks ago in the championship game, where he recognised that the defense was covering all the receivers, so he took off himself and wasn’t able to be stopped.

The defense is better than people think. It was rubbish last year but changes in the offseason have turned this into a competent, albeit not stellar, outfit. When you score as many points as KC do, you only need to stop the other team scoring a few times to win. Head coach Andy Reid has never won a Super Bowl and is one of the most popular and respected coaches around. He’ll be a Hall of Fame coach, if he can get over this one final game.

What should we expect?

The easy answer is points. After last year’s borefest, we need some scores and we should see them this time, with these two wonderful offenses making plays in the run and through the air, changing personnel groupings and using both play action (where the QB considers giving it to the running back but then can decide to keep it and pass it if he wants to) and pre-snap motion (where a guy is running just before the ball is snapped, typically to suss out what the defense is doing) to perfect effect. Both defenses have weaknesses (KC the run game; 49ers in the redzone) and both offenses have brilliant minds calling the shots. You’d expect that to mean we see some scoreboard movement.

Any surprises?

It’s the highest pressure game of most of these people’s careers. The teams will be playing at 100mph and throwing the kitchen sink into every play. Mistakes are inevitable and it could well be that one big mistake defines the game. It could be a coaching decision, an offensive lineman jumping offside on a key play, a missed field goal, a moment of madness from a cornerback or an unthinkable drop. It’s bound to happen, so hearts will be broken.

Unlikely hero?

The obvious MVP on each side will be the quarterbacks, so Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo understandably are the favs. If the game is a passing game, the QBs will be taking the glory.

If it’s a running game, Raheem Mostert for San Francisco has been the star for them in the playoffs and he’s emerged as the leader of the running back committee for the Niners. For the Chiefs, it’s a similar story, with Damien Williams being the main man, but it could be the case that a star is being saved for the day. LeSean McCoy for instance?

You’d be hard-pushed to think a defender wins the MVP in a game projected to have so many points, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. The likes of Tyrann “Honeybadger” Mathieu is a playmaker and in the form of his career, two seasons removed from a nasty injury.

Halftime show?

The game is in Miami this year and we get two for the price of one in Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Expect a breathless medley of their better-known songs and one or two you don’t remember.

Anthem?

Ah yes. The Star Spangled Banner will be warbled by Demi Lovato (I can’t hum a song of hers, I’m afraid, but she’s very successful) and the bookies think she’ll give it the absolute beans, predicting a long rendition, exceeding the two minute mark and leaving the athletes needing to start their warm up again.

Prediction time

Ok, here goes, in no particular order…
1. Neither team will score a TD on their opening drive
2. The second half will have more points in it than the first
3. Kyle Juszczyk, the 49ers fullback, will score a TD
4. Patrick Mahomes will run for a TD
5. The National Anthem will take 2 minutes 5 seconds
6. There will be one interception in the game
7. The Chiefs will play noticeably quickly in the first half on offense
8. The 49ers will not generate a sack in their own half
9. The final score will be 31-17
10. The coach covered in Gatorade at the end of the game celebrating will be Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs

Good luck everyone. Enjoy the game.

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