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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Super Bowl LVIII

Keys to the Big Game

This Sunday, Feb. 11, Las Vegas will host the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers for the 58th Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. The Chiefs, who played the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, won 17-10, while the 49ers narrowly beat the Detroit Lions 34-31 after overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit to clinch the NFC championship title. The latest Chiefs vs. 49ers odds have San Francisco as a two-point favorite.

Kansas City is chasing its third Super Bowl victory in five years. With a win, the Chiefs will capture back-to-back Super Bowl titles for the first time since the New England Patriots achieved the feat in 2003 and 2004. Kansas City has proven its place in the Bowl, despite having an inconsistent offense throughout the regular season that lacked the flair and explosiveness we had become used to from the previous few years. Before this year, the Chiefs hadn’t played in a true road playoff game in the Patrick Mahomes era. They’ve now won back-to-back to reach Super Bowl 58. 

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is deemed the best quarterback in the NFL and is already regarded as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In the 2023 regular season, Mahomes wasn’t at his finest. But, has shown his true form this postseason. In the playoffs, Mahomes has completed 70% of his passes and thrown 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions. 

Like most of the Chiefs offense, tight end Travis Kelce had a slow start to the year. He finished the regular season with 93 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns, his first season finishing below 1,000 receiving yards since 2015. But, he’s reminded the NFL world why he’s the best tight end in the league and a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, with 23 receptions for 262 yards and three touchdowns in three playoff games. 

Amid a rough year for the Chiefs’ wide receivers who led the NFL with 22 dropped passes, rookie second-round pick out of SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice has been a huge contributor and has emerged as a crucial weapon for Mahomes. Rice had 79 receptions for 938 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season.

Since taking over as the Chiefs’ first option running back midway through his rookie year last season, Isiah Pacheco has provided much-needed physicality for Kansas City’s offense. The 2022 seventh-round pick out of Rutgers carried the ball 205 times for 935 yards with seven touchdowns this regular season.

The Chiefs have what’s indisputably one of the best defenses in the NFL. It ranked second in the league in points (17.3) and yards allowed (289.7) in the regular season. The Kansas City defense consists of All-Pros up front and in the back: defensive tackle Chris Jones and slot cornerback Trent McDuffie. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed is also a Pro Bowl talent on the outside for the Chiefs and one of the most underrated players in the league. Look no further than his terrific forced fumble at the goal line in the team’s AFC Championship Game victory over Baltimore on Sunday. 

Behind all the talent is head coach Andy Reid. One of the most respected offensive minds in NFL history, Andy Reid is making his fifth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach, his fourth with the Chiefs. His first came in 2004 with the Eagles, and he holds a 2-2 record in the Super Bowl.

For the Chiefs, priority No. 1 should be stopping 49ers star running back Christian McCaffrey. Kansas City was 6-0 in the regular season when it held opponents under 110 rushing yards. 

Mahomes and Kelce will need to come up big as they typically have on this stage, but defense is where the Chiefs have been most consistent this season. The unit will likely need to put Kansas City on their back one final time, particularly against an all-time great running back in McCaffrey, to secure the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl victory.

San Francisco seeks its first Super Bowl win since 1995. It’s not surprising that the 49ers made it this far, given their impressive 12-5 record and overall dominant regular season. This will mark San Francisco’s eighth appearance in the Super Bowl in franchise history. The 49ers possess a highly efficient quarterback in Brock Purdy, as well as several talented playmakers including Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey. This lineup has set the stage for a must-see title game. 

Brock Purdy has gone from the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to an MVP candidate for most of this past season. He completed 69.4 percent of his passes this past season for 4,280 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

The response to anyone who claims that running backs aren’t valuable in today’s NFL is Christian McCaffrey. He finished second among NFL running backs with 14 rushing touchdowns, led the league in rushing yards (1,459) and ranked second on the 49ers with 67 receptions for 564 yards and seven scores. He held a streak of 17 straight games with at least one touchdown that came to an end in mid-November.

Despite only having 75 catches, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was seventh in terms of receiving yards (1,342). That’s 17.9 yards per catch, which ranked second in the NFL. He excels in yards after catch and has become a big-play threat for the 49ers.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel showed that he has the ability to be more dangerous as a receiver than Aiyuk with eight catches for 89 yards in the NFC Championship Game. He is a jack-of-all-trades for the 49ers’ offense. He not only caught 60 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns, but he also ran 37 times for 225 yards and five touchdowns. The Chiefs’ defense must know where he is every single play.

The 49ers’ defense isn’t quite as good as last year when they were ranked No. 1 led by Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa with 18.5 sacks. But they’re still very solid. Led by Bosa, who had 10.5 sacks this season, they were ranked eighth. They gave up just 89.7 rushing yards per game with the addition of DT Javon Hargrave in the middle. However, the Lions did go for 182 yards on the ground in the NFC Championship game. Linebacker Fred Warner and cornerback Charvarius Ward were Pro Bowlers too, joining Hargrave and Bosa, from San Francisco’s imposing defense.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is believed to be one of the best young offensive minds in the NFL. He has stated his case by taking teams led by Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy at quarterback to four NFC Championship Games and, now, two Super Bowls in the last five years. 

The 49ers need to play to their strength in Super Bowl LVIII as teams have proven they can run on this Chiefs defense. McCaffrey should lead them both in the run game and the passing game and Kyle Shanahan should come up with as many different ways to get him the ball. The 49ers have always been a run-first offense, and they shouldn’t go away from that now. By doing this and keeping Brock Purdy protected, they will put themselves in a great position to win the title.

Their defense is more than capable of stopping the Chiefs’ offense, which has shown its inconsistencies. But their ticket to the trophy is running the ball and eating up the clock. The longer Patrick Mahomes is off the field, the better the 49ers chances are.

If you’re planning on making it to the big game, you might want to reconsider your retirement date. The Feb. 11 game is the most expensive Super Bowl on record. The average price is hovering around $9,800, which is 70% more expensive than last year’s big game.

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About the Contributor
Jakob Hansen
Jakob Hansen, Staff Writer

Jakob Hansen is a senior Staff Writer. When Jakob isn’t playing golf or shooting baskets, you can find him exploring nature, spending time with family, or skiing at Mount Bachelor. Jakob enjoys hanging out with friends and his dog Cooper. He is a driven student athlete who takes pride in his work in and out of the classroom. Jakob is very passionate about sports, which he is very much looking forward to writing about in The Summit Pinnacle.


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