By: Kaja Antic, Sports Writer
For the fourth time in five seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl — and the San Francisco 49ers are there too.
The Chiefs and 49ers previously met four years ago during Super Bowl LIV, when the Chiefs overcame a 20–10 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 31–20. While this marks the 49ers first appearance back in the Super Bowl since 2020, Kansas City reached Super Bowl LV the following season in 2021, ultimately falling short to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Chiefs’ 2022 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship game was the first in two years that Kansas City wasn’t headed to the Super Bowl. Last year, Kansas City won Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles, after scoring a field goal with eight seconds left in the game.
San Francisco’s Super Bowl history is not as recent or thorough as the Chiefs’. Before 2020, the 49ers had been to the Super Bowl once in the 21st century, losing 34–31 to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 at Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers had previously won five Super Bowl games from 1982–1995.
The Chiefs (11–6) led the four-team AFC West division this season, while the 49ers (12–5) led the west division of the league’s other conference, the National Football Conference (NFC). Playoff positions are assigned based on a team’s record in comparison to teams in their own division, as well as teams from the other three other divisions that round out their conference.
Since the 49ers were seeded first in the NFC, they received a bye to the second round of playoffs, otherwise known as the divisional round. The Chiefs, who finished third, had to compete against the sixth-seeded Miami Dolphins in a wild-card match to advance to the second round. Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs made quick work of the Dolphins, winning 26–7. In the divisional round, the Chiefs defeated the second-seeded Buffalo Bills 27–24. They then defeated the AFC number one seed, the Baltimore Ravens, 17–10 to become the conference’s bid in the Super Bowl.
On the other side, the 49ers beat the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers 24–21, after the Packers pulled off an upset against the higher-seeded Cowboys to make it to the divisional round. The close margins of victories continued for San Francisco the next game. The 49ers scored 27 unanswered points in the second half of the NFC Championship game to win 34–31 against the third-seeded Detroit Lions, after being down 24–7 at halftime.
This year’s Super Bowl, Super Bowl LVIII, is set for Sunday, February 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas; it will be the first time a Super Bowl has been held in Nevada. The 49ers have the edge in offence, ranked second to the Chiefs’ ninth, while the latter ranks second in defence to the former’s eighth. They are closely matched in passing — San Francisco in fourth and Kansas City in sixth — while their rankings differ greatly when it comes to rushes, with the 49ers third in the league, way above the Chiefs in 19th.
Despite the regular season achievements of the 49ers, I don’t believe they will come out on top. Their playoff history since the turn of the century has been lacklustre, and they narrowly achieved wins against the Lions and the Packers — both being three points.
The AFC champion Chiefs are in a much different position than their opponents, due to their recent successes. The key members of their roster are much more experienced compared to the 49ers. The Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, has not just one, but two Super Bowl MVP awards under his belt, while 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is only in his second season in the NFL — his first as a starting quarterback.
As well, you can’t mention the Chiefs without mentioning Travis Kelce. Aside from his highly publicized relationship with Taylor Swift, the Kansas City tight end is widely regarded as one of the best tight ends in NFL history, and the best currently playing.
Kelce and Mahomes are a record-setting pair, recently earning the playoff record for touchdowns for a quarterback-receiver combo. The pair have completed 16 touchdowns in their years playing together, beating the previous record of 15 set by storied pair Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
If you’ll indulge me, I believe the Chiefs have the upper hand on the 49ers for Super Bowl LVIII. The lights of the NFL championship are always bright, but the Chiefs have shown that it doesn’t blind them, and they have the reputation to prove it. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but if all the pieces fall right into place, the Kansas City Chiefs will be the winners of this year’s Super Bowl.
For now, we have to wait and let the players play, and I could be wrong but life goes on. But I consider myself somewhat of a mastermind, so I’m still a believer in the Chiefs until the final whistle blows on February 11.