Super Bowl LVIII Preview: What to watch for in this year’s big game

| Staff Writer

The Chiefs and 49ers will face off Sunday for the NFL’s most coveted trophy. (Illustration by Tuesday Hadden | Student Life)

Super Bowl Sunday is on the horizon, and the NFL has narrowed its 32 squads to two teams competing for the Lombardi Trophy. This article will preview the most important game of the season, as Sunday’s matchup will bring glory to one fanbase and heartbreak to another in Super Bowl LVIII. Whether you’re a football fanatic or only watch the sport’s most important game, you can pick up some knowledge from this analysis and maybe even get a stat or two to impress your friends and family at a watch party.

Super Bowl LVIII: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers

Chiefs Recap: The Chiefs went on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, and for the second week in a row, they came through with yet another victory against arguably the best squad in the entire league. The first half decided the game as the Chiefs built up an early 17–7 lead. This was all the offense needed as the Ravens only scored three points during the entire second half. Later, Baltimore made two heartbreaking errors on back-to-back possessions. Rookie receiver Zay Flowers fumbled the ball at the one-yard line while reaching for the goal line, and on their next drive, Lamar Jackson threw a questionable pass into three defenders that was intercepted with the team 20 yards from the endzone. Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes maintained their status as the most dominant duo in the postseason on their way to a 17–10 win, with Kelce recording 11 receptions, 117 yards, and a touchdown. Mahomes would complete 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and a single touchdown. My prediction last week had the Ravens winning 20–14 and Lamar Jackson leaving his playoff woes behind him, but that will have to wait for another year. 

49ers Recap: What. A. Game. All hope seemed lost after the 49ers went down 24–7 against the Detroit Lions before halftime, but a third quarter rally, which saw the team score on every possession, tied the game at 24 apiece. From here, the 49ers continued to dominate, adding 10 more points for 10 unanswered points in 25 minutes. Detroit came back in the end with a beautiful touchdown from Jameson Williams. However, the offense couldn’t return to the field, and the Lions lost 31–34. Christian McCaffrey put up an MVP-level performance, turning in over 100 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. At first, my prediction looked like it would fall flat on its face, but in the end, I was almost spot on, predicting a 49ers 30–27 victory. 

Things to Watch:

  • Watch how the Chiefs utilize running back Isiah Pacheco against a team that gave up the 15th most yards on the ground. In the postseason, the 49ers have given up 4.9 and 6.8 YPA (Yards Per Attempt).
  • Kansas City has been the most dominant team in the playoffs for the past six years, with Mahomes holding a 14–1 record against teams that didn’t have Tom Brady (0–2 in those games). Playing more games at the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas should also give them a leg up in this matchup.
  • The Chiefs have given up more than 24 points in only one game this season (Week 13 against the Packers). This theme should continue against a team carried by defense.

Prediction: The Chiefs currently open as two-point underdogs against the 49ers and as the betting underdogs for the third time this postseason. Time and time again, they have defied these odds and proven themselves to be an unstoppable force in the playoffs en route to their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years. We have the next dynasty on our hands, and they will continue their legacy on Sunday. Chiefs win 27–17.

(Odds Courtesy of SportsLine)

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