Since its inaugural year in 1967, the National Football League’s Super Bowl championship has been an honorary American holiday. Family and friends gather together, food is made in preparation and relationships are tested—all parts that make holidays so fun. The 58th Super Bowl, which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 11, has the makings to be one of the most exciting yet. With my excitement for the “big game” comes my thoughts about the season thus-far and my predictions for the final matchup of the season.
For starters, the Philadelphia Eagles (last year’s runner-ups) are no longer even in the running for the Vince Lombardi trophy after getting knocked out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Additionally, the Detroit Lions participated in postseason play for the first time in 32 years. Teams who were expected to be in the contest unexpectedly fell off. Unexpected teams like the Lions, as well as a young Packers roster, were able to make headlines for just securing a playoff spot. Rookie C.J. Stroud led the Texans to a postseason win against veteran quarterback Joe Flacco in his first season in the NFL.
In this year’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, I am picking the Chiefs to win. The 49ers are a defensively sound team, but their offense has been struggling as of late, and young quarterback Brock Purdy (though he has proven his ability) has never had experience in a game like this. However, Chief’s Patrick Mahomes is a veteran who has been in this game, and won, as recently as last year, has won a total of 14 playoff games in only seven seasons of playing.
San Francisco star wide receiver Deebo Samuel had been hurt in their game against the Packers, though he did play in the game against the Lions, recording 89 yards on eight receptions and plans to play in the Super Bowl—which is a good sign for the 49ers. San Francisco will have a tough time against a sound Chiefs defense who is experienced in these high-stakes games. Purdy does not have the versatility to match up with Mahomes or an offense which boasts multiple threats—including All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and breakout receiver Rasheed Rice.
The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled more in this season than any other, but still hold a winning record and are ranked third in the AFC (only behind the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, both of which they already beat in the path to get to the Super Bowl, despite being picked as the underdogs in both). For the first time since 2018, the Chiefs did not host the AFC championship, but do not let this sway you to count this team out. Mahomes is arguably one of the best quarterbacks we have ever seen, and Kelce one of the best tight ends, surpassing Rob Gronkowski in stats this season according to the NFL. The Chiefs boast a strong defense but have struggled with rookie receivers not producing as much as expected. I have seen these receivers improve exponentially over the season, so the Chiefs have a strong chance of winning this game—especially given the experience they have based on playing in this game for the last three years and the veteran leadership they have on the team.
The 49ers have a strong defense including star All-Pro linemen Nick Bosa and boast some of the most talented offensive players in the league including Christian McCaffery, George Kittle and Samuel. McCaffery is the best running back in the league and is almost impossible to stop, so the 49ers will need him to show up in this game if they want a chance at winning. Notably, the 49ers went down early in the NFC Championship game against the Lions, but were able to fight their way back and eventually win the game. While I do see this as a good sign that they were able to make this comeback, if they get behind early against the Chiefs, I do not think it would be possible for them to dig their way out of that hole.
When it comes down to “the big game,” I think it will be a test of who is better under pressure—and for that reason, I am taking the Chiefs over the 49ers.