This coming Sunday 2 February marks the NFL’s 54th Super Bowl in which the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. The following article will preview this Sunday’s showdown and provide the essential facts needed to enjoy the game.
Regular Season Campaigns
Both teams featured in this year’s Super Bowl enjoyed dominant regular season campaigns which put them in good stead heading into the playoffs.
The Chiefs ended the regular season with a record of 12-4 which meant they topped their AFC West division and received a first-round bye in the playoffs. Throughout the regular season they pulled off some impressive performances, heavily defeating divisional rivals the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders as well as claiming the scalp of Tom Brady’s New England Patriots and in-form Baltimore Ravens. Furthermore, although they lost on four occasions, these defeats were all by a margin of eight points or less meaning one score could have changed the outcome.
On the other hand, the NFC’s 49ers entered the playoffs with an outstanding record of 13-3 which also saw them clinch their respective division and gain a first-round bye. Like the Chief’s, the 49ers also displayed superb showings including a thrashing of the highly respected Green Bay Packers and a dramatic tight win over the New Orleans Saints. Like the Chiefs, the three blots on the 49ers’ record came in the form of close defeats all by one score or less.
The two teams did not run into each other over the course of the 17-week regular season which adds an extra layer of excitement and mystery to this year’s event.
As mentioned above both teams in this year’s Super Bowl had first round byes in the playoffs meaning they had to win two playoffs games to get to Miami.
The Chiefs’ playoffs began in disastrous fashion when they faced the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. Although the Chief’s had a better regular season record and the game was being played in Kansas City, they had been defeated by the Texans earlier in the season meaning Houston team were to be respected. A catalogue of errors saw the Chiefs gift the Texans a 21-0 lead inside the first quarter. The Texans then grew this lead to a further 24-0 before a series of heroics by Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce helped drag them back into the game. Heading into half time the Chiefs held a 28-24 lead and never looked back, eventually winning the game 51-31 and progressing to the Conference Championships to face the Tennessee Titans.
The Conference Championship clash against the Titans once again took placed at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead stadium and pitted the Chiefs’ passing offense against the Titans who heavily relied on running the ball. The majority of the game was close with only four points separating the teams heading into the final quarter. However, the Chiefs lighting offense helped them prevail once more and they pulled away to become 35-24 victors and earn themselves a place in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers had a smoother run in the playoffs relative to the Chiefs. Their first-round bye pitted them against the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round who had had defeated the Saints in the opening stages of the playoffs. This matchup proved fairly comfortable for the west coast team who, after a fairly close first half, pulled away in the final two quarters to win 27-10 in front of their home fans.
In the Conference Championships the 49ers came up against the Green Bay Packers. Although the game was being played at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers had comfortably beaten the Packers during the regular season, Green Bay’s explosive offense lead by legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers meant they were still a daunting prospect. However, Green Bays offense provided little trouble for the 49ers who held a 27-0 lead by halftime. The second half saw Rodgers step up and perform well in an attempt to bring his team back into the game, but the 49ers also continued to put up points and the game finished 37-20 in favour of the San Francisco team.
Players to Watch
Super Bowl LIV is very much a battle of offense against defence. The Chiefs, known for their explosive offense will have to find a way to breakdown the 49ers steadfast defence. This section will highlight a few players on each side who are likely to play key roles for their teams this Sunday:
Patrick Mahomes- Quarterback- Chiefs
Mahomes, who was the NFL’s MVP last season, leads the Chiefs offense and has had a tremendous season scoring 26 passing touchdowns (TDs) in the regular season and another eight in the Chiefs’ two play-off games. He almost certainly needs to perform well in order for the Chiefs to prevail in Miami.
Travis Kelce- Tight End- Chiefs
A favourite target of Mahomes, the big tight end often shows up when his team need him most and played a major role in the Chief’s comeback against the Texans. He is sure to play a vital role in the Chiefs offense this Sunday.
Tyreek Hill- Wide Receiver/Returner- Chiefs
Known as ‘Cheetah’, Hill possesses lighting pace and impressive footwork. He is definitely one to keep an eye out for when Chiefs are returning a kick-off or punt.
Tyrann Mathieu- Safety- Chiefs
Another Chiefs player with a nickname, Mathieu known as the ‘Honey Badger’ is a centrepiece of the Chiefs defence and helps them defend against the run and passing.
Nick Bosa- Defensive End- 49ers
This NFL rookie has had a tremendous opening season. He has recorded 12 sacks in total this season and is sure to cause Mahomes and the Chiefs offense some trouble this weekend.
Richard Sherman- Cornerback- 49ers
Sherman is a loud-mouthed, hard hitting cornerback who is likely to play a vital role in the 49ers’ efforts to disrupt the Chiefs passing offense.
George Kittle- Tight End- 49ers
Kittle is crucial to the 49ers offense when it comes to both blocking during plays as well receiving the ball. He had a tremendous regular season in which he broke the single-season receiving record for a tight end.
Who is the Favourite?
Due to both teams’ impressive regular seasons and playoff runs this weekend’s contest is expected to be one of the most competitive in recent history.
Most bookmakers have Kansas City as slight favourites offering odds of 13/15, while the 49ers are slight underdogs with odds of 11/10.
The Halftime Show
For those who are not a fan of the sport itself the event still may well be worth tuning into. As ever the Super Bowl will feature a start-studded halftime show and this year is no exception.
Super Bowl LIV will have American singer Jenifer Lopez performing alongside Colombian pop sensation Shakira in a performance many are highly anticipating.
The American National anthem will also be performed by another high-profile artist, with singer Demi Lovato fulfilling this duty.
Where to Watch in St Andrews?
Super Bowl LIV kicks off at 6:30pm in Miami meaning it is a late 11:30pm start here in the UK.
This year the Union will be showing the Super Bowl in Main Bar and Sandys meaning those looking to watch the game with friends and enjoy a good atmosphere are in luck.
Alternatively, those who would rather watch in the comfort of their own home can catch the game on BBC1 or through the US TV channel Fox.
No matter how you choose to watch, this year’s Super Bowl promises to be a fascinating contest which could be one for the history books.