An Inside Look at Super Bowl LIV

Story By: Ben Hensley, Editor-in-Chief

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And then there were two.

It’s that time of year again. Super Bowl LIV is less than a week away. Fans have their jerseys washed, pizzas pre ordered and 60-inch flatscreen TV’s mounted just a little higher (hopeful to not end up being torn off the wall in another viral video) in preparation for what they hope will be a Sunday full of celebration.

And the first Super Bowl in four years without Tom Brady.

But who will hoist the coveted Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 2? California says the San Francisco 49ers. The Midwest says the Kansas City Chiefs. Booger McFarland says whoever wins will hoist the trophy.

 

Coaching: New Blood vs. Old Blood

 

Advantage: 49ers

 

Kyle Shanahan is going into his third season as a head coach.

Andy Reid is the seventh winningest coach in NFL history.

The contrasts in accomplishments and strategy could not be more vivid.

Shanahan, the 40-year-old third year head coach has been in a Super Bowl before as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan will have to improve on his last appearance in the Super Bowl when the offensive coordinator called only five running plays after their final score in the third quarter.

This playoff run, Shanahan seems to have learned his lesson, leaning heavily on the running game and backs Raheem Mosert and Tevin Coleman, who have combined for 325 yards in the Niners’ two playoff games.

Comparatively, Reid has an impressive coaching record, but lacks the playoff success of his counterparts. With a 14-14 head coaching playoff record, Reid will be coaching in his first Super Bowl.

From a coaching standpoint, Reid’s biggest goal should be to come out of the gate fast. The Niners defense is statistically superior to the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans who each jumped out to an early lead over Reid’s Chiefs. For Kansas City to come out with the win, they have to come out of the gate with more offensive fire than in their first two playoff appearances.

 

Quarterbacks: David vs. Goliath

 

Advantage: Chiefs

 

Statistically, it’s hard to compare Garoppolo and Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Garoppolo at times has been protected by the virtue of having a stellar defense and the second ranked rushing team in the NFL (behind only Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens).

Mahomes’ only drawback to his season was his health, suffering a dislocated knee in the Chiefs’ week seven meeting against the Denver Broncos.

Garoppolo ranked 19th in yards per game, 27 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, and an impressive quarterback rating of 102. Though he and the Niners outdueled Drew Brees in a week 14 shootout, the Chiefs’ defense has improved dramatically since the midseason point. Garoppolo will need to channel the power he displayed in the Superdome the week before a disappointing week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Mahomes and the Chiefs didn’t seem to skip a beat following his departure. While his numbers dipped from his historic 2018 season, Mahomes was still a respectable seventh in yards per game and threw 26 touchdowns to only five interceptions. But Mahomes has really turned in on in the playoffs, throwing for 615 yards and eight touchdowns with zero interceptions.

For quarterbacks of both teams, effectiveness will be key in hoisting the Lombardi trophy, but the Chiefs and Mahomes have a leg up on the 49ers in this matchup.

 

Does Defense Really Win a Championship?

 

Advantage: Chiefs

 

Statistically, the Niners ranked as one of the best teams in the 2019 season, placing 2nd overall in yards per game, fifth in sacks and eighth in points allowed.

Defensively, the Chiefs were middle of the pack, 17th in yards per game, 11th in sacks and seventh in points allowed.

Deceptively however, Kansas City holds the edge in the matchup defensively.

While the Niners and superstar defensive end Nick Bosa were more successful getting to the backfield (with 48 sacks and 87 tackles for loss), their Achilles heel was the mobile quarterback, suffering two of their three season losses against quarterbacks who can run – losing to the Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, and playing two close games against the Arizona Cardinals and rookie infielder Kyler Murray.

Comparatively, the Chiefs defense kicked it into high gear following Mahomes’ injury, intercepting Phillip Rivers and the Chargers four times during their week 11 matchup, and stopping the Patriots’ home win streak in Foxborough in a 23-16 in week 14.

With the combination of the Chiefs’ potent offense and Mahomes’ ability to make magic happen, and the Niners’ struggles against mobile quarterbacks, the Chiefs have a deceptive edge in this matchup.

 

And the Lombardi Trophy Goes to:

 

Winner: Chiefs

 

From a top-10 all-time winning head coach, to a quarterback throwing no-look passes, the Kansas City Chiefs hold the advantage over the San Francisco 49ers. In what will likely be a historic matchup between two evenly matched offenses and two deceptively even defenses, this year will see a new face added to the legends who hoisted the Lombardi trophy.