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Super Bowl LVIII set to kickoff this Sunday: How each team can win

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Parity in sports is rare, and in the 2024 Super Bowl, it has eluded NFL fans once again. On Feb. 11, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Francisco 49ers in the mecca of sports — the Super Bowl.

         The Chiefs, who struggled at times in the regular season, found life in the playoffs. Their opponent is the San Francisco 49ers, a team that has dominated regular-season play since 2019. This Super Bowl will be the fourth time in the last five years that either the Chiefs or the 49ers have made it to the big game. 

The difference between the two teams in those appearances? The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls, and the 49ers have failed to win one.

         In 2020, the Chiefs and 49ers competed against each other in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs won that game 31-20. 

While there are still players on both teams that were present for that game, their respective rosters are very different than they were in 2020. Despite turnover, both teams have a realistic path to the Vince Lombardi Trophy.   

The Chiefs path to victory

It is undeniable that a Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs squad can win a Super Bowl it’s happened twice before. What they need to do to win this one, however, is remain confident.

Having the reigning MVP at the helm, being the defending Super Bowl champions and having Taylor Swift in the fold has brought a swath of media attention to the Chiefs. This pressure has seemed to motivate the team as they’ve locked into gear and dominated in the postseason.

         The Chiefs finished the regular season with an 11-6 record. Their regular season play netted them the No. 3 seed and one home game, where they defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-7.

The Chiefs then traveled to Buffalo to play against the Bills. With the Buffalo crowd vehemently against them, the Chiefs embraced the villain role and won 27-24.

Kansas City’s reward was a date with the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. Lamar Jackson, a former MVP quarterback, led the Ravens to a 13-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Backed by a suffocating Ravens defense, Jackson and the Ravens posed a lethal threat.

The Chiefs didn’t blink, defeating Baltimore 17-10 on the road. Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce connected for 116 yards and a touchdown, barreling through the Ravens’ esteemed defense.

The assignment for the Chiefs now: maintain the Mahomes and Kelce connection, stop running back Christian McCaffrey at all costs and maintain moxy. If the Chiefs can establish an early offensive rhythm and find ways to limit the 49ers run game, they can certainly come away with another Super Bowl victory.

The 49ers Path to Victory

The Chiefs may have Mahomes, Kelce and Andy Reid to rely on, but the 49ers have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL and head coach Kyle Shanahan behind the scheme.

         San Francisco has five 2024 first-team All-Pro players and two second-team All-Pro players. Shanahan, a mastermind of an NFL head coach, has consistently maximized his team’s talent.

         First-team All-Pro running back McCaffrey ran for 1,459 yards and totaled 21 touchdowns in the regular season. In the playoffs, he has accumulated 260 yards and four touchdowns in two games.

McCaffrey’s 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns were paramount to the 49ers 24-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round. McCaffrey was also the catalyst of the 49ers 34-31 shootout win against the Detroit Lions in the NFC championship game, scoring two touchdowns. If the 49ers are to come away victorious on Feb. 11, Shanahan must rely on his premier running back.

The 49ers must also rely on their vaunted defense to limit Mahomes and Kelce. The tandem of former Defensive Player of the Year edge rusher Nick Bosa and former Defensive Rookie of the Year edge rusher Chase Young must pressure Mahomes in the pocket. An uninterrupted Mahomes is unstoppable, but if Bosa and Young pressure and sack him, they will generate massive momentum swings.

Three-time first-team All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner will also be integral to the 49ers success. Warner is a critical cog in the 49ers defense machine, and his play in the Super Bowl will be vital to slowing down Kelce.

         For Shanahan, the task is this: lean on McCaffrey and the defense as a crutch. Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy is prone to mistakes, so Shanahan must limit the number of plays relying on Purdy. Ultimately, the 49ers defense must play better than it did against Detroit, and the offense must utilize Shanahan’s scheming to pull away with a victory.

The Chiefs and the 49ers are both seasoned teams with the potential to win. These are two fun teams to watch, and fans should expect to see a close game. The game will be broadcasted on CBS on Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. CT.

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