The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Super Bowl 58 preview: Deja vu or drought breaker

Although quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy have played sensational football this season, expect Sunday’s matchup to be a defensive slugfest
Kansas City is going to have to put all hands on deck for San Francisco’s weapons in the passing game. (photo from National Football League)

For obsessed football fans like myself, Super Bowl week is a week of jubilation, excitement and disappointment that after Sunday’s game in Sin City between the 49ers and Chiefs this football season is coming to its inevitable conclusion. 

It’ll be depressing to know that our Sundays will be filled with boredom and disappointment that there isn’t a game to watch. But football fans around this campus and around the globe are hoping that this Super Bowl provides an entertaining bookend to a mundane season of football. 

While some are more invested in the spectacle of Super Bowl halftime, commercial breaks for the drawn-out advertisements you don’t regularly see, along with CBS cameras panning to celebrities in the stadium every chance they get (Taylor Swift I’m looking at you).

Those who want a football “insiders” look into the big game this weekend are going to enjoy this look into the details of each team’s success in the game and who will be inevitably hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Las Vegas. 

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Starting with America’s most hated team (or liked depending on where you stand on how much attention they’re getting), the Kansas City Chiefs

We’ll put aside my thoughts on where I stand on the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift relationship that the sports media has beaten to death. The Chiefs come in looking like a flawed team that has relied more on its defense slowing down elite offenses rather than generational quarterback play carrying them. 

No greater example than this occurred is what got them to this stage where the offense looked like its former, well-oiled machine in the first half then proceeded to lay an egg in the second half, relying on Baltimore beating itself by turning the football over in the red zone and committing egregiously dumb penalties in key spots. 

Now if the Chiefs want a complete effort where both sides of the ball can carry their weight, the offensive line is going to have to be better in run and pass blocking against a San Francisco team that has one of the better defensive lines on paper, led by star pass rusher Nick Bosa

Kansas City is also going to have to put all hands on deck for San Francisco’s weapons in the passing game, particularly with their linebackers and safeties if they’re going to neutralize the threat of All-Pro Running Back Christian McCaffrey and Swiss army knife Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel. 

They’re also going to have to put in a better effort in stopping the 49ers’ dangerous rushing attack and get better play out of their linebackers. 

They’ve shown in the Divisional Round game against Buffalo that the defense can get worn down easily by consistently running the football and getting five to six yards a carry, which San Francisco has consistently proven that they run the football down teams’ throats.

Speaking of the 49ers, coming into this game, this team has been battle-tested all playoffs long with a dogfight against the upstart, hungry Green Bay Packers team who if it wasn’t for a missed Anders Carlson field goal (yes I’m still bitter about that game), would’ve bounced the top-seeded 49ers team from the playoffs. 

Along with a historic 21-point comeback in the NFC Championship game against the Detroit Lions where it seems that Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell coached this game like he was a degenerate gambler on the blackjack table instead of making calculated decisions to help his team win the game.

Despite the adversity they’ve faced these playoffs, the 49ers have fought through the fire and the flames to get back to the Super Bowl to exercise the demons the last time these two teams met in Super Bowl 54 down in Miami four years ago.

A lot has changed since these two teams met on a stage this big, with the surprise rise to stardom for 49ers quarterback and MVP finalist Brock Purdy, who was concluding his sophomore year at Iowa State the last time these teams met. 

Purdy’s play this season has been remarkably consistent this season give or take a few games and I don’t see it changing this weekend. 

Where I can see things falling apart for San Francisco is in their secondary play on defense and how streaky it has looked for these playoffs. Along with the shaky performance of their special teams unit, particularly the kicking game. 

The game plan for the defense should be relatively simple given that the 49ers have two of the better linebackers in coverage in Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner, simply have both of them shadow Travis Kelce all game and force Patrick Mahomes to force the ball down the field to his inexperienced and mostly undependable wide receivers. 

All San Francisco’s offense really has to do is what they did in the Green Bay game and that’s controlling the tempo of the game and limiting the amount of times that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense has the football. 

As for the outcome of this game, I see this game being more of a defensive slugfest between two teams who know when it’s time to step their games up on the defensive side of the ball. 

Right now with how San Francisco has performed these playoffs, this is a team that seems like they’ve exercised their past playoff demons and pending any colossal mistakes from their defense and special teams. They are ready to break the 30-year drought between Super Bowl victories. 

Sorry Swifties, there’s no fairy tale ending to this love story as San Francisco prevails this weekend, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 1994. 

Mikalofsky can be reached at [email protected].

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