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What to expect for this Sunday’s Super Bowl

Garnering 115.1 million viewers all around the globe last year, the Super Bowl is widely regarded as one of the most anticipated world championship games of any sport. The San Francisco 49ers and the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs are set to square off this Sunday in Las Vegas at 5:30 p.m. CST.

Just four years ago, Super Bowl 54 (LIV) in 2020 had the same matchup, where the Chiefs won their third Super Bowl, 31-20, thanks to a fourth quarter comeback down 10 with nearly 6 minutes left to play.

However, this time around, there’s an entirely different narrative around the big game.

Last time they met, Kansas City was appearing in their first Super Bowl in 50 years and was heavily favored by the public, as well as a 2-point favorite in sportsbook betting odds. Led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who had just completed his second immaculate season as a starter, throwing for over 4,000 yards and a 5/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The Chiefs celebrating their victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54. (Denny Medley )

On the flip side, the San Francisco 49ers were preparing to play their second Super Bowl in eight years, winning their previous five of six. After finishing 4-12 the previous season, the 49ers finished with a 13-3 record, cruising their way through the playoffs and making a bombshell statement to the rest of the league. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan finished second in votes for the Coach of the Year award.

Fast forward to the present, and there are many narratives and storylines that are still the same as before. Mahomes won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award the year prior, and current 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is catching strays from fans and media claiming he’s a “system quarterback,” meaning he is only thought to be playing at his high level due to the talent around him. This is eerily similar to the backlash former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garapollo received in 2020 when they were on their way to Super Bowl 54.

The 49ers offense is as explosive as they get, in which every skill position player has received the NFL AP-All Pro award. However, the Chiefs have the widely regarded “Best Quarterback in the NFL,” whom you can never count out of the fight. Barring a midseason collapse, they weren’t supposed to be here, but somehow they pulled it off yet again.

This time around, the 49ers are favored by three points on all sportsbooks, and the public is definitely siding with San Francisco this time around. It may be because the Chiefs have been too dominant in recent years and the fans want to see a change of scenery.

Who is more likely to win the big game this Sunday? There are many coincidence conspiracies that circulate around the internet in an attempt to pick a winner, such as moon phases and which direction the teams travel to the stadium hosting the Super Bowl.

The keys for this game are different for each team. Kansas City needs to focus on feeding the ball to tight end Travis Kelce. He was riddled with injuries and doubted throughout the regular season; however, he has been electric and is the clear number one target in this playoff run. Recording 23 catches for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns, Mahomes should be looking Kelce’s way and exploiting the middle of the field as much as possible.

Promotional Poster for Super Bowl LVIII

For San Francisco, Christian McCaffery is slated to win this year’s Offensive Player of the Year Award and should be the main target in this game. While Kansas City’s front four and linebacking core have improved significantly this year, they allowed 113.2 rushing yards per game this year, which McCaffery should easily be able to blow past as the best running back in the NFL.

All that’s left to do now is grab your favorite snacks, enjoy the company of your friends and family, and take in the last NFL match we’ll be able to watch for nearly half a year.

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Ian King, Staff Writer

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