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The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

2024 Super Bowl Showdown: Kansas City Chiefs vs. the San Francisco 49ers

On Sunday, February 11, the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pair of teams previously played against each other in Super Bowl LIV in 2020, where the Chiefs stormed back to defeat the 49ers with a final score of 31-20. This upcoming championship will be the eighth Super Bowl rematch in the history of the National Football League.

The Chiefs are ending with a mediocre regular season by their standards, finishing at 11-6 while only averaging 21.8 points per game, compared to 29.2 in 2022. Although they still are led by two time MVP Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and perennial All-Pro Tight End Travis Kelce, they are not the usual dominant team they had been in years prior. 

The playoff push began with a below-freezing victory over the Miami Dolphins in Kansas City. Led by Head Coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs marched into Buffalo, took down the Bills, and won against AFC’s 1 seed Ravens in Baltimore. But with offense struggling this year, the Chiefs relied more on their run game and some new receivers in these games. 

Running Back Isiah Pacheco has been the workhorse for them all season and has had the bulk of carries throughout the playoffs. Rookie Wide Receiver Rashee Rice leads a receiver core that is not full of stars. In a season where Kelce declined, Rice made himself another strong option for Mahomes. Kelce has returned to his form in the playoffs. He also broke Jerry Rice’s record of most postseason receptions, surpassing the 49er legend with 152 receptions.

Coached by Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs’ defense has turned into a stifling force. This season they held opponents to the second lowest yards per game and accumulated the second most sacks with 57. Defensive Tackle Chris Jones is the anchor of the group, a veteran who sat out of a game this year due to contract disputes, still tied the team lead for sacks at 10.5 with second year Defensive End George Karlaftis. The secondary led by L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie allowed the fourth least passing yards this season. Linebacker Drue Tranquill had a big effect on the defense in his first year with the Chiefs and is leading the team in tackles in the postseason.

Kyle Shanahan coached the 49ers to the NFC’s 1 seed. Despite being the frontrunner in their conference, the 49ers only won both playoff games by three points. Their 24-21 win over the young Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round was a sloppy, rainy game that saw quarterback Brock Purdy make many risky throws that Packers defenders dropped. Against the Detroit Lions, the 49ers had to come back from a 24-7 deficit at halftime to defeat the Lions 34-31.

Brock Purdy got the nickname “Mr. Irrelevant” as the 262nd overall, and last, pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. After taking over the starting quarterback position, Purdy has led the 49ers to two straight NFC Championship games, and now is in the Super Bowl. The narrative about Purdy is that he’s carried by his supporting cast of talent including All-Pros in Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel. Purdy undoubtedly is made better with his teammates, but it’s unfair to say that they are only what makes him good. He led the league in QBR and Passer Rating, while finishing top five in completion percentage, touchdowns, and yards.

Christian McCaffrey has cemented himself as the best running back in the NFL and is the favorite to win the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year award. He finished the year with 2,023 combined rushing and receiving yards and had 21 total touchdowns. McCaffrey should be able to exploit a weaker Kansas City rushing defense. With Kittle and Aiyuk who both eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards each, and Samuel who had 892 yards, the 49ers offense averaged the second most offensive yards per game at 398.4. Shanahan’s offense averaged 28.9 points per game and were tied for the most touchdowns scored with 61.

Defensively, the 49ers have a stout defense against the run, allowing the third least rushing yards this season and only 17.5 points per game to opponents. Edge Nick Bosa and Middle Linebacker Fred Warner are the leaders of this defense. Bosa finished with 10.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss, while Warner led the team in both solo tackles and total tackles. Warner also has 4 interceptions and intercepted Mahomes in the first Super Bowl matchup. The secondary is more average, but cornerback Charvarious Ward leads the team in passes defended and interceptions with 5.

The 49ers may be haunted by facing the Chiefs in the Super Bowl again, but with a revitalized cast there is nothing better than revenge. For the Chiefs, they are looking to cement themselves as a dynasty. In what could easily be the most watched Super Bowl, with Taylor Swift in attendance, it should be a shootout between two explosive offenses.


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