The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are set to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in Miami, Florida, for Super Bowl LIV.
This Super Bowl is refreshing as it marks the end of an era. It seemed as if Tom Brady or Peyton Manning were in every Super Bowl since I’ve started watching football. Instead, we will now see Patrick Mahomes II and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Both of these quarterbacks are interesting. Mahomes is the reigning MVP and has had an eye-opening career for those who did not watch him at Texas Tech. In his two seasons as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Mahomes has thrown for 9,291 yards and 76 touchdowns, according to pro-football-reference.com. Although this is his first appearance in the Super Bowl, it most definitely won’t be his last.
Mahomes is also a different breed of quarterback the NFL hasn’t seen. When you think of the recent great quarterbacks like Brady, Manning and Drew Brees, you think of someone who has an absolute cannon. You don’t necessarily think about their running game. Mahomes, on the other hand, has a cannon of an arm and is also effective on his feet as he has recorded 500 rushing yards in his two seasons as a starter, according to pro-football-reference.com.
When you think of great quarterbacks, one of the biggest factors is how they handle pressure in clutch situations. Time and time again, we have seen how Mahomes handles pressure, whether it was at the collegiate or professional level. Mahomes’ ability to keep a play alive is unreal. He has reinvented the game in a way that we have never truly seen before. I have never seen a quarterback run out of the pocket and throw a 20+ yard pass off of their back foot in a clutch situation, but Mahomes has done it multiple times.
The only thing that may be concerning regarding Mahomes is how he suffered a knee injury earlier this season. Not many people expected him to return for the rest of the season, let alone play in the Super Bowl. Although the injury is concerning, Mahomes has shined in the playoffs, throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns to defeat the Houston Texans after being down 24-0.
Mahomes and the Chiefs won by 20 points. He then threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns while also recording a rushing touchdown to win the AFC over the Tennessee Titans. Despite the injury, it doesn’t look like he has been affected in the postseason.
From the NFC, Garoppolo will try and outplay Mahomes and the Chiefs. While Garoppolo has never started in a Super Bowl, he has learned from one of the best, Brady. Garoppolo was Brady’s understudy in his first three seasons at the professional level as he played for the New England Patriots. The most recent understudy who turned into a star was Aaron Rodgers after being Brett Farve’s backup.
The interesting thing about the 49ers is that this is a big comeback story. Last season, the 49ers went 4-12 with no hope of even making the playoffs. This season, Garoppolo has led the team to its best regular-season record since 2011, going 13-3. Garoppolo is also not familiar with losing games as he has posted a 21-5 quarterback record, according to pro-football-reference.com. Leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he threw for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns.
One weakness Garoppolo does have is his run game. He tends to rely on his passing game as he has only ran for 116 total yards in his career. Mahomes recorded 218 rushing yards this season in two fewer games, according to pro-football-reference.com.
While Garoppolo lacks in rushing yards, the 49ers’ running back Raheem Mostert has made up for it. Mostert recorded 772 rushing yards this season, according to pro-football-reference.com. He has seemed to settle in San Francisco after having a rocky start to his career, bouncing around to five different teams in two seasons. Since being added to the 49ers’ roster, Mostert has shown improvement each season.
Aside from players on the roster, one concern comes from the coaching staff. Although the 49ers have not been to the Super Bowl since 2013, their head coach Kyle Shanahan is not new to the spotlight as he was on the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching staff when they went to the Super Bowl in 2017.
As Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, Shanahan helped coach the Falcons to a 28-3 lead in the third quarter over the New England Patriots. The Falcons then blew that lead as the Patriots came out victorious with a 34-28 win. While this wasn’t necessarily 100 percent Shanahan’s fault, it isn’t comforting to know he was a part of one of the biggest collapses in NFL history.
On the topic of coaching, another concern lies with the Kansas City’s head coach, Andy Reid. In Reid’s 21 seasons, he has coached his teams (Philadelphia Eagles and Chiefs) to 207 wins, according to pro-football-reference.com. Of those 207 wins, he has been to the Super Bowl one other time (2005) and has zero rings. This accounts for the most wins without a championship of all head coaches in NFL history. Maybe the streak will be snapped on Sunday.
The biggest thing to look for in this year’s Super Bowl is the tight end battle. Both the Chiefs and 49ers have elite tight ends in Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
Kansas City’s Kelce has had a more successful season this year, possibly giving him a slight advantage. This season, Kelce has recorded 1,229 receiving yards , the fourth-most receiving yards in the NFL, and five touchdowns, according to pro-football-reference.com. San Francisco’s Kittle has had a great season but not to the extent of Kelce. Kittle has recorded 1,053 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season.
Although both teams have their pros and cons, I think the Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to a victory in Super Bowl LIV. It will most likely be high scoring, but I would never bet against Mahomes and his abilities to run an offense.