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Super Bowl 54 Preview and Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs San Francisco 49ers

It’s finally set. The conference championship games have been wrapped up and the matchup for Super Bowl 54 is set. But before we dive into this very exciting Super Bowl, let’s take a quick look at how both the Chiefs and 49ers fared in their respective championship games.
The Chiefs took on dark horse Super Bowl candidates, the Tennessee Titans, and showed up at home. They took care of business with a final score of 35-24. After being down early in the first quarter 10-0, social media had a slight panic attack. Then social media had another slight panic attack when Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill lead a NINE MINUTE touchdown drive to put the lead back up to 10. NINE MINUTES!!  But everything was restored once the Chiefs eventually scored two more touchdowns before the half and took a 21-17 lead going into the second half. From then on, Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over and controlled the lead till the end, leading Kansas City to its first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl IV.
Run, Run, Run!! The 49ers learned that running was the way to win during their NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday. Quarterback Jimmy Garopolo threw the ball only 8 times the whole game and the Niners won by 17 points. Running back Raheem Mostert ran the ball 29 times and showed that he can solely carry an offensive game plan by himself. With a defense that ranked second in total yards allowed, first in passing yards allowed in the regular season, and a rushing attack that ranked second in total rushing yards, the Niners and head coach Kyle Shanahan showed that they can be the best team in football with elite defense and an unforgiving running game. This elite Niners defense led by defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is not one to be taken lightly and they showed that by making Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense extremely uncomfortable. Now the 49ers find themselves in their first Super Bowl since 2012 and their seventh appearance overall.
Patrick Mahomes is a flat-out star and can do some unheard-of things as a quarterback.
 The 49ers have a suffocating top-ranked defense. With that being said, this should be looked at as a high-octane offense vs. an intense defense match-up right? Oh boy is it so much more than that. As amazing as Patrick Mahomes is and as great as wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are, the Chiefs are going to need their defense to put their best foot forward against the 49ers. The Niners boast the league’s second-best rushing attack and a running back in Raheem Mostert that put up 220 yards and 4 touchdowns rushing on 29 carries

The 49ers have such diversity and can beat you in so many ways that it may be a little too much for the Chiefs to handle. Another unfortunate issue for the Chiefs is that this past season, they were the seventh-best team in terms of passing yards allowed and the seventh-worst team in terms of rushing yards allowed. A team that is terrible at defending the run doesn’t magically become amazing at it against a team that was second-best in the league at running the ball. Especially because Jimmy Garopolo rarely throws the ball, but has shown that when he does, he can carve up defenses and be dominant.
For the Chiefs to win this game, they have 4 major keys to follow. Firstly, Patrick Mahomes needs to show up and show out. Constantly impressing everyone with spectacular arm talent and the ability to make players around him better, I along with everyone else in the United States of America will be watching closely to see how Mahomes fares on the grandest stage of them all. If Mahomes plays like the MVP candidate he is, the Chiefs are halfway there but if not, it will be a long, hard, and eventually disappointing uphill battle for this explosive Kansas City Chiefs team. Secondly, the Chiefs defense needs to step up big time. George Kittle has the most yards after the catch of any skill player since 2017, Deebo Samuel has been a speedy rookie sensation, and journeyman Raheem Mostert has shown that he has a lot of talent and can take over when necessary. It is safe to say that the Chiefs in the middle of the pack defense have a lot on their plates in two weeks and is really going to need to play well if they have any hope of winning. Thirdly, drops and slow starts are going to be the story of the first half. In Kansas City’s divisional-round playoff game against the Houston Texans, they had 4 drops in the first quarter, a muffed punt, and a blocked punt. This led to them going down 21 points in the first quarter. Again, in the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans, they were down by 10 for most of the first half. Those slow starts have been brutal for this team and the Niners defense is too good to let them climb out of that deficit. Finally, Andy Reid may be the most important factor for the Chiefs as his record in the past is not fantastic. He will need to put together an amazing game plan and coach the best game of his life if he plans to out-coach Kyle Shanahan who seems to call the perfect play whenever necessary.
This is a Super Bowl that will be decided on control of possession. If the 49ers can play dominant defense and run the ball like they have been all season. I see very little chance of them losing this game. However, if the Chiefs can play solid defense, stay explosive on offense, and have Andy Reid call smart plays, they can definitely steal this one from San Francisco. My final score prediction is 28-24 with the San Francisco 49ers ending up as your Super Bowl Champions.


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