The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Chiefs or 49ers?: Zach and Zach take on Superbowl Predictions

Photo illustration by Zach Kennett
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will face off in Super Bowl 58 against the San Francisco 49ers.

One game to go. Mahomes’ dynasty versus the best scheme in the league. The Kansas City Chiefs versus the San Francisco 49ers. 

At 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11, the best of the AFC and NFC will face off in Super Bowl LVIII, a rematch of the big game four years ago.

One team will walk away with the Lombardi. The other will be relegated to history.

Who will win? Two TTO sportswriters weigh in.

Kansas City Chiefs – Zach Cohn

Four years ago, the Chiefs faced off against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. The 49ers had a 20-10 lead with 6 minutes and 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs stormed back to win 31-20.

How did the 49ers manage to blow that big of a lead? 

The answer is pretty simple: Patrick Mahomes. 

In the first seven years of his career, six as a starter, Mahomes has won three conference championship games, two Super Bowls and two MVP awards: the start of what is sure to be a hall of fame career. 

In those six years, Mahomes has led a dominant offense surrounded by superstar playmakers like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. This year is different, though; instead of a traditionally potent offense, the team is led by their dominant defense. 

The Chiefs defense allowed the second-least yards per game this season and were second in the league in sacks. The 49ers are led by their top-heavy defense, with stars like Fred Warner and Nick Bosa, but the Chiefs defense, led by L’Jarius Sneed and Chris Jones, is deep and has been the better unit throughout the season. 

Steve Spagnoulo is one of the most underrated defensive coordinators in the NFL and improved the Chief’s defense every year that he’s been with the team.

This is the same defense that held MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to 10 points in the AFC championship game. The same defense that held Josh Allen and the Bills to 24 points and under 200 passing yards. The same defense that held Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins to seven points.

Brock Purdy is easily the worst quarterback that the Chiefs defense has faced in the playoffs. And while the 49ers’ supporting cast is phenomenal, the Ravens laid out the blueprint to beating them in their 33-19 throttling that forced Purdy to make mistakes. Purdy threw four interceptions that game and was pulled.

Experience plays a role in a game this big. The 49ers have not won a Super Bowl since 1994, and their only appearances since then were the 2020 loss to the Chiefs and the 2013 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Purdy is playing in his first-ever Super Bowl in just the second year of his career, while Mahomes has played in three of the last five.

Mahomes is experienced and will make the easy throw, letting Purdy make the mistakes that will cost his team the game. 

The 49ers also have Jake Moody, a rookie kicker, ranked 18th in field goal percentage this year, while the Chiefs had the third highest field goal percentage in the league. A missed field goal or extra point could be the difference in what should be a close game.

Mahomes and Purdy will likely lead their teams down the field for several scores, but ultimately, Mahomes’ magical connection to tight end Travis Kelce, the defense’s dominant play and this team’s calm and collected composure will prove to be too much for Purdy and the 49ers to handle. 

The Chiefs will win their third Super Bowl in six years, 27-20, firmly cementing themselves as one of the sport’s great dynasties. 

San Francisco 49ers – Zach Kennett

The San Francisco 49ers had the best record in the NFC this season and their third straight winning season, one of the longest streaks in the conference. Led by standout late-round picks and schematic genius Kyle Shanahan, they’re on route to their sixth Super Bowl title.

Looking through the 49ers roster and sideline, it’s apparent that they have the pieces to win.

Kyle Shanahan is one of the best head coaches in the league. He just can’t seem to manage a lead in a playoff game. 

Take Super Bowl LI for example, where Shanahan’s Atlanta offense was up 28-3 against the Patriots. A 25-point lead seemed insurmountable, but the Falcons’ offense stalled, punting four times in the second half, allowing the Patriots to come back.

His playoff woes seem to be solved now, as the 49ers had a 17-point comeback win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship game. Still, with a Super Bowl resume as inconsistent as his, he has much to prove.

He should manage, though. His playoff record is 8-3, and he’s helmed five straight top-five offenses. On the other side of the ball, his teams have ranked No. 1, No. 3 and No. 1 in yards allowed since 2021.

Let’s meet the players that account for that dynastic dominance.

The firecracker for the 49ers is running back and offensive player of the year Christian McCaffrey. On a hall of fame trajectory, he led the league in rushing and scrimmage yards. In this postseason, he’s totaled 260 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns. If the 49ers have any success on offense, it will be because of No. 23.

Brock Purdy, the second-year quarterback, will have to face off against one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Luckily, with his stellar supporting cast and Shanahan’s masterful schemes, all he needs to do is manage drives and occasionally hit on the deep bomb.

It’s a strategy that worked for Purdy throughout the season. He was fifth in passing yards, third in touchdowns, first in passer rating and first in adjusted yards per attempt. The last pick in the 2022 draft has blossomed into one of the most dependable quarterbacks in the league, and he will need to be all of that against Mahomes.

Purdy’s weapons are some of the best in the league. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk combined for seven touchdowns and more than 2,100 yards in the regular season, and in the playoffs, they’ve tacked on another touchdown and 213 more yards. 

Aiyuk’s 51-yard reception against the Lions was the play that turned the tide in the comeback win, and momentum-shifting moments like that will make the difference in what may be a back-and-forth slugfest.

Tight end George Kittle rounds out the 49er receiving corps, and he’s Purdy’s perfect safety valve. Whether it’s a two-yard drag route or a quick underneath that goes for 20 yards, Kittle’s rough and tumble play will slice right through the Chiefs’ box.

Fred Warner, a three-time All-Pro linebacker, and Nick Bosa, the reigning defensive player of the year, lead the San Francisco defense. Warner and Bosa’s play demand complete redesigns of any offensive attack, and the 49ers pass defense, the best in the league, will tear apart the Chiefs’ weak offensive line.

Studs like Dre Greenlaw and Charvarius Ward round out the starting 11, and rookie kicker Jake Moody is consistent in the clutch. Still, with the lights being brightest in the big game, special teams may be shaky.

The San Francisco 49ers have the best defense in the league, and defense wins championships. The Legion of Boom Seahawks, a squad where talented linebackers and pass rushers combined with a potent secondary to feast on a weak offensive line and a shallow receiving core, crushed their offensive-minded opponents in Super Bowl LVIII. 

This game will play out similarly. The 49ers will win 31-17.