As kickoff nears for what could be the most watched Super Bowl in many years, we’re stumped by the surge in popularity. After all, many former fans walked away from the sport and declared We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Others had no interest whatsoever.
Now? They can’t get enough.
Regardless, hardcore football fans will share couch space and fake cheese dips with relative newbies as they watch Super Bowl LVIII – the lesson on Roman numerals follows the word problem involving when a certain flight leaves Tokyo and arrives in Las Vegas.
So we offer the public service of 13 things every fan should know before the Chiefs and 49ers play the season’s End Game.
Love Story: We’ve surmised it’s probably the reason casual fans will watch. He’s a blue-collar guy who raves about her talent as an artist. She’s his biggest fan despite all the recent acclaim she’s received. Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk and his fashion designer wife Kristin, who created jackets for a couple prominent Chiefs fans early in the playoffs and just secured a licensing agreement with the NFL, are the adorable couple who will be magnets for TV cameras throughout the game. Of course.
Bad Blood: This is the second Super Bowl meeting in five seasons between the Chiefs and 49ers. San Francisco took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV, but Kansas City scored 21 points in the final 6:13 to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl and first in 50 years.
Superstar: The big names won’t all be in uniform. Before the game, the scheduled singers are Reba McEntire (national anthem), Post Malone (“America the Beautiful”) and Andra Day (“Life Every Voice and Sing”). And Usher will be the latest the halftime show performer to fall far short of Prince’s 2007 spectacle. By the way, a fun wager with your friends is on the over/under for McEntire’s rendition. Sports books have it as low as 86.5 seconds and as high as 90.5 seconds, but she’s gone as short as 66 before a World Series game.
Back to December: Few expected the Chiefs would be in the Super Bowl after they lost 3 of 4 in a rough December stretch. And there were questions about the 49ers after their Christmas night demolition by Ravens. Now the Chiefs are on a five-game winning streak, and the 49ers’ only loss since then was a meaningless one against the Rams to end the regular season.
Hits Different: If you hear the names Fred Warner and Nick Bosa a lot during the game, it’s a good sign for the 49ers. They are difference makers on defense and nightmares for quarterbacks. Warner was a unanimous all-pro selection and often will be much closer to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce than anyone else has been this week. And Bosa was the 2022 defensive player of the year who could make life miserable for a certain Taylor – Chiefs tackle Jawaan Taylor, the most penalized (by far) offensive lineman in the league this season.
Run: Conversely, if CBS analyst Tony Romo spends the day gushing about Isiah Pacheco – and Romo does gush about players he admires – the Chiefs could be well on their way to another title. Pacheco, a second-year running back, has a touchdown in each of Kansas City’s three playoff victories this season and was most impressive with 6.5 yards per carry against Buffalo.
I Forgot That You Existed: San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy was the last player selected 2022 NFL draft, also known as Mr. Irrelevant. He hardly was expected to be a star. Then he took advantage of injuries to become a starter and has excelled. Former NFL quarterback Cam Newton dissed Purdy as his team’s 10th best player. He’s one victory from being called a Super Bowl champion.
Anti-Hero: Chris Jones’ season started with him holding out for a better contract and watching from a suite while his Chiefs teammates lost to the Lions. It could’ve turned ugly for the all-pro defensive tackle, but he landed a one-year deal and was a key to a surprisingly strong defense. By the way, the Chiefs drafted him with a pick they got in a trade with the 49ers.
Shake it Off: 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is different with his combination of strength and speed, and defenders tend to fly off of him. When Samuel is a big part of the game plan, it usually bodes well for the 49ers; they won all eight games in which he scored a touchdown this season. He was out with injuries or was held to fewer than 60 total yards in all five of their losses.
Mastermind: Both coaches – Kansas City’s Andy Reid and San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan – draw praise as offensive geniuses, but only Reid has championships to accompany the admiration. This one is huge for both their legacies. A third Super Bowl win would thrust Reid into legendary company as just the fifth coach with that many, and a first could launch a new phase of Shanahan’s ascent.
Gold Rush: The 49ers were the NFL’s team of the ’80s when they won four of their five Super Bowls. But they’ve lost in their three most recent championship appearances. With a victory, they would tie the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles with six.
Superman: The 49ers already were quite good, but when running back Christian McCaffrey arrived from another planet – one inhabited by the lowly Carolina Panthers – in a 2022 trade it returned them to an elite level. The newly minted offensive player of the year tied for the league lead with 21 touchdowns scored in the regular season and he ran for two scores in each of the 49ers’ playoff victories. Added bonus: He’s got an origin story that includes an adorable picture of him at 2 years old on the field celebrating his dad Ed’s Super Bowl XXXIII victory with the Denver Broncos.
Fifteen: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, No. 15 for the Chiefs, has numbers that can’t be avoided – much like his ubiquitous commercials. In seven seasons in the NFL – six as a full-time starter – he is 14-3 in the playoffs and is about to make his fourth Super Bowl appearance in the past five seasons. He could become just the fifth quarterback to win three Super Bowls and could tie Tom Brady and Troy Aikman with three before the age of 30. Mahomes, by the way, is only 28.
Editor’s note: Yes, the author realizes he used Taylor Swift song titles throughout, her favorite number is 13 and she’s dating some football player. It’s her world, and we’re all living in it. Be kind, Swifties.
Source: Orange County Register