Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Super Bowl LVIII Prediction: What to Look Out For in the Big Game

Super Bowl LVIII comes to Las Vegas this Sunday, Feb. 11 in a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, which promises to be a tight contest.

After the National Football League’s (NFL) marathon regular season and several nail-biting playoff thrillers, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11. Heading into Sunday’s highly anticipated game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., the Chiefs are seeking their third Lombardi Trophy in five years, while the 49ers are looking for their first Super Bowl victory since 1994.

The long road to the Super Bowl concluded with the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) championship games Jan. 28. In the day’s earlier game, the Chiefs triumphed over quarterback and this season’s MVP winner Lamar Jackson and the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens, winning 17-10. Meanwhile, the 49ers overcame a 17-point second half for an impressive 34-31 comeback over the Detroit Lions

Analyzing how each team performed in these pivotal conference championship matchups reveals key insights entering the year’s pinnacle game. 

For the majority of the 2023 season, the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs have lacked their trademark explosive offense as in the past. However, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ experience on the big stage has shone throughout the Chiefs’ dominant playoff run. After a close road victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs toppled the favored Ravens in Baltimore.

Although Kansas City sprinted to a 17-7 early lead, Baltimore only managed 3 additional points in the second half, ending the Ravens’ season in disappointment. 

Throughout the game, the Chiefs’ offensive line did a great job protecting Mahomes and giving him time in the pocket to operate. On top of that, Kansas City’s defense has been one of the best in the league, ranking second in the league in yards and points allowed during the regular season, only behind the Ravens. Their matchup against the Ravens, holding Baltimore’s prolific rushing attack to just 81 yards, while forcing 3 turnovers.

Nonetheless, the Ravens had their chances in the fourth quarter, with two major errors on back-to-back possessions ultimately dooming the team. Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line, and then, Jackson threw an interception into triple coverage with the team 20 yards from the endzone

As the Ravens offense fell apart in the second half, tight end Travis Kelce and Mahomes proved their continued postseason dominance. Kelce caught all 11 of his targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. Mahomes completed 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown. 

On the other hand, the 49ers have been favored in each game this season and enter the Super Bowl with the NFL’s second-ranked offense, led by quarterback Brock Purdy and All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. San Francisco is the more complete team heading into Sunday’s matchup with Pro Bowl-level weapons at every position from fullback to tight end. 

In the NFC title game, the 49ers struggled early, overpowered by the Lions on the way to a 24-7 deficit at halftime; it seemed as if the end of San Francisco’s season was imminent. Holes in the 49ers defense were apparent, especially up front. Detroit rushed for 148 first-half yards, with touchdown runs by wide receiver Jameson Williams and running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. 

San Francisco needed chunk plays to start the second half to stay in contention — and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk met the call with a game-shifting 51-yard catch which bounced off a defender’s facemask. The 49ers proceeded to score on every possession of the third quarter, tying the game in just eight minutes. The team continued to dominate in the fourth thanks to elite play from Purdy, the last pick of 2022 draft, and a series of Lions miscues, including two failed fourth down conversions while in field goal range. 

Purdy finished with 267 passing yards and a touchdown, along with 48 yards rushing, proving he can spark a comeback for the second consecutive game. Despite a late touchdown by Williams, the Lions could not find another score, ending their historic NFC North-winning season with a 34-31 loss

Although the 49ers are the most complete team in the NFL and will be able to engineer effective offensive drives against a dominant Chiefs defense, it is difficult to count out Mahomes and the Chiefs when it matters most. On top of that, the Chiefs have been playing at a higher level, beating the Bills and Ravens handedly on the road, while the 49ers have struggled to win both of their home games. 

In the Super Bowl, Kansas City’s defense will contain McCaffrey, and the 49ers and the Mahomes-Kelce duo will come up with big plays at key times, culminating in the Chiefs’ third ring in five years in a tight win.

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