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Staff Picks: Super Bowl LVIII

Player wearing 15 jersey in Kansas City Chiefs red and white uniform gets ready to snap the ball in a game against the Washington Commanders.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes gets ready to snap the ball in a game against the Washington Football Team in 2021.
Photo by All-Pro Reels / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will face off at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada this Sunday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Ahead of the most anticipated game of the NFL season, six members of The Daily Princetonian Sports staff offered their picks for who will emerge victorious in this rematch of Super Bowl LIV, which saw the Chiefs erase a 10 point deficit in the fourth quarter to overcome the 49ers 31–20. 

The 49ers come into the contest as a slight two-point favorite on all major U.S. sportsbooks

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49ers 23, Chiefs 20: Hayk Yengibaryan, Associate Sports Editor 

Last year, I picked the Chiefs to win Super Bowl LVII. 

Back then, I wondered why the greatest quarterback of our generation was an underdog to win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Patrick Mahomes, Vegas does not make the same mistake twice. 

While the 49ers defense has raised questions with two subpar playoff performances, I expect defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to figure it out on the biggest stage. Nick Bosa is one of, if not the, best pass rushers in the league and will be key to the 49ers defense. Everyone knows how dominant Travis Kelce is, especially in the playoffs. The Niners will not win this game by playing zone or even man to man. They need to double cover Kelce and simply force the average receiving core for the Chiefs to make plays. 

Regarding San Francisco's offense, I am not worried about the Niners. Christian McCaffrey will have a field day against the Chiefs’ subpar defense. Kyle Shanahan will not overcomplicate the offense for Brock “Mr. Irrelevant” Purdy, especially in the first half as Purdy adjusts to the atmosphere of his first Super Bowl. Expect Jauan Jennings to be the hero for the Niners and make at least two big plays in this matchup.

It is extremely hard to win back-to-back Super Bowls in this league, hence why it has not been done since the 2004 season. Mahomes will not get blown out, but he will fall in overtime after a Jake Moody field goal seals the win for the Niners.

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49ers 31, Chiefs 27: Tate Hutchins, Associate Sports Editor

San Francisco hasn’t hoisted the Lombardi trophy since 1994, so this Super Bowl is 30 years in the making. The Chiefs will always have a chance as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, but the 49ers should outmatch them with their elite talent spread across the field. 

Though quarterback Brock Purdy may not have Mahomes’ raw talent, he’s shown himself to be more than capable of running the high-powered offense with four first-team all-pro players, earning himself an MVP nomination. Joining him in a nomination is Christian McCaffery, their all-purpose running back who has notched 1,459 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry on average during the season. McCaffery will be a key factor for the 49ers, who need to keep a strong rushing attack in order to open up opportunities for Purdy to make plays.

On the other side of the ball, Mahomes will always be the looming threat, even on a down year for him with “only” 4,183 passing yards. The Chiefs’ receiving core has been a negative storyline throughout the season, with a rare offensive offside call bringing back a game-winning touchdown and a costly drop on another potential game-winning touchdown costing them two regular season games. They’ve passed the eye test so far in the playoffs, but they may not do enough to take the strain off of star tight end Travis Kelce and Mahomes. In the end, I believe the 49ers’ incredible depth will triumph over the Chiefs’ star power.

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Chiefs 27, 49ers 17: Alex Beverton-Smith, Assistant Sports Editor

The Chiefs, who have boosted their performance in the playoffs after a shaky 11– 6 record in the regular season, will be making their fourth appearance in the Super Bowl in the last five years. Despite being the underdogs once again, I expect the Chiefs to emerge from Las Vegas as back-to-back champions. The stellar combination of Mahomes and Kelce, as well as a recent uptick in the performance of the Chiefs wide receiver core, will provide the offensive foundation for a victory on top of their strong defensive showing in recent weeks.

Nevertheless, the 49ers have been consistent favorites the whole season — and have shown why with their impressive comeback against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship game. They will give the Chiefs a very hard time with their usual stars of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Purdy, and McCaffrey. Although many see this as a less-exciting match than what could have been, these two teams will be sure to provide excitement.

Despite the 49ers star power, the Chiefs have unstoppable momentum, and their recent history of success in the Super Bowl gives them the experience required to emerge victorious. When it comes down to it, Mahomes, rather than Purdy, will be the quarterback who is best able to lead his team to victory.

49ers 30, Chiefs 24: JP Ohl, Sports Staff Writer

Mr. Irrelevant — Brock Purdy — and the entire 49ers roster will not let Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, and Patrick and Brittney Mahomes meet on the NFL logo when the clock strikes 00:00 in the 4th. The world doesn’t believe he can do it — but then again, when has the world ever believed?

Both teams met in Super Bowl LIV, only four years ago, when Mahomes and the Chiefs beat the 49ers 31–20. As the camera panned to a despondent George Kittle, he vowed, “I will be back here.” A Super Bowl win is never guaranteed, let alone an appearance. Kittle’s vengeance will fuel a career-defining game for him, allowing the 49ers to capitalize on this moment.

Both teams deserve to be in this game — expect fast-paced back and forth play. Don’t take your eyes off of the TV, as both teams are capable of unexpected and momentum-changing offensive plays. The Super Bowl happens once a year — regardless of outcome, enjoy the greatness on the field.

Chiefs 27, 49ers 20: Peter Wang, Staff Sports Writer

He may be the villain of the NFL, but there’s no denying Patrick Mahomes is on track to lead the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl victory in five years. The Chiefs come into this matchup backed up by a stifling defense that has only let up 41 points in their last three playoff games, foreshadowing trouble for 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.

While 49ers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey will almost certainly dominate on the ground, the same cannot be said for Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, the team’s star receivers. Kansas City’s top cornerbacks, L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie, have locked up their opponents all year, with Sneed only allowing one touchdown all season. 

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs’ offense has found its groove this postseason. The 49ers defense is one of the best in the league, but they have been vulnerable recently, especially against the run. This bodes well for Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco, who should find multiple opportunities to create big plays. Fan favorite and future Hall of Famer tight end Travis Kelce will continue his dominant tear in the postseason, sure to eclipse 100 yards and catch two touchdowns.

When it’s all said and done, the Chiefs will take a decisive victory, and Patrick Mahomes will win his third Super Bowl MVP trophy. They may just be a dynasty after all.

49ers 27, Chiefs 24: Ryan Kirby: Staff Sports Writer

With the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs meeting in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years, all the pressure is on 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. 

Despite San Francisco’s two recent playoff comebacks, Shanahan is still known around the league as a choker. The Niners lost a ten-point fourth quarter lead the last time they saw the Chiefs in the big game, and who could forget the New England Patriots’ historic 28–3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. 

Shanahan has a secret weapon this year: Brock Purdy. Mr. Irrelevant has shown tremendous talent game after game in the postseason. While he hasn’t been perfect, throwing an intercepted pass in both playoff games, Purdy has been as clutch as they come. He’ll have to contend with Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady’s successor as the NFL’s biggest star.

Despite a down year, Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the league, and has shown postseason dominance year after year, bolstering his claim to rival Brady. Nonetheless, Brady lost in the Super Bowl three times and Patrick Mahomes will be joining him in the loser club after a 49ers fourth quarter comeback propels them to victory.

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor at the ‘Prince.’

Tate Hutchins is an associate Sports editor at the ‘Prince.’

Alex Beverton-Smith is an assistant Sports editor at the ‘Prince.’

JP Ohl is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

Peter Wang is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

Ryan Kirby is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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