It’s the day of days in American Sport.
Super Bowl LIV kicks off just after midday tomorrow with the Kansas City Chiefs facing the San Francisco 49ers for the biggest prize of them all, the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Before we get to the big one, we presented our NFL Tragics of Alex Chapman, Christopher Reive and Nigel Yalden a couple of other questions to pontificate on as it relates to the season decider in Miami:
Which quarterback is under more pressure – Patrick Mahomes (KC) or Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)
AC: Heading into the game, it’s Patrick Mahomes. People expect him to pull a rabbit and probably a dove and then the Statue of Liberty out of his hat, and then do some other freaky, un-worldly stuff. But on the field, it will be Jimmy GarOpPolo. He has a reputation of throwing picks, the Chiefs will be putting massive focus and emphasis on him and trying to force him into those mistakes. Jimmy also hasn’t been asked to throw a massive amount this post-season, while Mahomes has thrived under pressure, highlighted by that massive comeback against the Titans. If anyone knows how to handle pressure though its six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, a man Jimmy worked with at New England and watched win Super Bowls.
CR: You have to think its Patrick Mahomes, right? That San Francisco defensive unit it something special and they've been terrorising teams all year. Mahomes has made a name for himself as someone who can make things happen in the stickiest situations and with the weapons he's got out wide - Hilly, Hardman, Watkins - and underneath with Travis Kelce, Damian Williams and LeSean McCoy, the pressure comes on Mahomes to make the right plays. He's the star, the face of the league, and this is the biggest stage in the sport.
NY: It’s undoubtedly Patrick Mahomes. He is the Kansas City Chiefs in the eyes of many; he is the new face of the NFL and easily the standout talent in NFL’s game of games. Whatever the result for the Chiefs, it will, rightly or wrongly, be laid firmly at the feet of their quarterback.
Which player (quarterbacks excluded) will have the most influence in the outcome of Super Bowl LIV?
AC: I think if the Niners are to win this, tight end GEORGE KITTLE needs to have a massive game. The Chiefs are relying on Mahomes, but the Niners can’t just lean on Garoppolo. Kittle needs to step up big time and show the classy player he is who had 85 catches this season, five of which were for touchdowns. If he does, he’ll certainly be in the conversation for MVP.
CR: Richard Sherman, come on down. If there's one match up outside of the two quarterbacks that will decide this game, it's San Francisco cornerback Sherman against Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Simply put, Sherman is annoying. He has a knack for getting in the passing lane and either disrupting the play or picking it off, and makes sure he lets his opposition know he's around. Against Hill, he meets one the, if not the, fastest and most elusive wideouts in the league. If Sherman can lock Hill down, that will go a long way in San Francisco winning.
NY: Kansas City Chiefs starting left tackle ERIC FISHER was the number 1 overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft. His matchup with last year’s second overall pick San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa, is arguably the most significant of the Chiefs Offensive Line vs 49ers Defensive Line battle. If Fisher can disrupt Bosa’s pass rushing influence that will go a long way to helping Kansas City lift the Lombardi Trophy come tomorrow evening.
Which kicker would you have more faith in to kick a Super Bowl winning field goal – Harrison Butker (KC) or Robbie Gould (SF)
AC: Have to go just based on numbers here. Stats don’t lie. HARRISON BUTKER led the NFL in 2019 with 34 made field goals, missing four total, three from outside 50 yards and one under 39 yards. Gould made 23 field goals and missed eight, including all four of his 50-plus yard attempts. Give me Harrison
CR: Harrison Butker hands down. He was by far the best kicker in the game during the regular season, hitting 90 per cent of his attempts - Gould hit just 74 per cent. Butker is the more reliable of the two from long range too, making 50 per cent of his shots from 50 yards or more; Gould missed all four he attempted in the season. Butker also has a better track record from 20-49 yards out. It's an easy choice if you're going for a game-winner.
NY: Can’t add anything more to what has already been said by my colleagues so make it a clean sweep for Harrison Butker
And finally, the biggest question of any Super Bowl week, who wins and why?
AC: If you’ve listened to the podcast from this week (the one Peard didn’t attend), I took forever to decide this. I’ve in fact re-written my answer here a half dozen times
Prediction: Niners by … no, Chiefs by two, but I don’t back it enough to have a flutter … still probably will though
CR: When I look at this contest, I can't help but side with the Chiefs. Their offensive unit is too impressive to ignore, even with San Francisco's impressive defensive system. The pressure will be on Mahomes but I feel like he's more than ready to take that on and show up in the biggest game of his career so far. The Chiefs have a very serviceable offensive line, which has been a bit overlooked at times. The 49ers need to shut down the ball and I don't think they can do that enough to keep the Chiefs off the scoreboard.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs by 10. Travis Kelce 2+ TDs
NY: I am a card carrying member of the “Defence Wins Championship” Society and that is for a very, very good reason. Yes, the Chiefs offence is that darn good and as such most definitely gives you cause to pause. However the 49ers have the defensive weaponry to limit Patrick Mahomes and company, whilst also have multiple attacking options themselves.
Prediction: San Francisco holds off a fast finishing Kansas City in an instant classic