Watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 11, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kick-off at 11.30pm; Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter will be joined by former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins
49ers meet again in rematch of Super Bowl LIV />
Image: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is looking to win back-to-back Super Bowls
And then there were two! The 2023 NFL season reaches its climax on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers meet at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas…
Patrick Mahomes resumes his march towards the all-time greats in search of a second straight ring and third overall, while Brock Purdy, the famous last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, finds himself one more win away from one of the greatest feats in sporting history.
It beckons as a rematch of Super Bowl LIV, when Mahomes inspired a late Chiefs comeback to see off the 49ers at the end of the 2019 campaign.
Image: The Chiefs and 49ers will meet at Super Bowl LVIII
Kansas City Chiefs
AFC West division champions – 11-6 regular-season record
Chiefs 2023 regular-season stats leaders
- Passing: Patrick Mahomes, 401/597, 4,183 yards, 27 TDs, 14 INTs
- Rushing: Isiah Pacheco, 205 carries, 935 yards, 7 TDs
- Receiving: Travis Kelce, 93 catches, 984 yards, 5 TDs
- Sacks: Chris Jones & George Karlaftis – 10.5
- Interceptions: L’Jarius Sneed – 2
- Tackles: Justin Reid – 95
Head coach: Andy Reid is into his 11th season with the Chiefs, and this team has known only success since he’s been there, winning two Super Bowl titles and missing out on the playoffs just once in 2014 – albeit still securing a winning record at 9-7, the only time his team failed to reach 10 wins.
Key player: Patrick Mahomes, of course. The NFL’s best quarterback, the NFL’s best player and this generation’s best hope of mounting a rival to the greatness of Tom Brady. Defensive schemes across the league have rallied to blunt the man with the talent to make any throw from any angle at any position on a football field; at times it has succeeded, at times it has slowed him, and yet here he stands once again. For much of the season Kansas City’s usually-explosive offense has struggled to get out of first gear, ranking 15th in points per game (21.8) and only just sneaking into the top 10 in terms of yards per game (351.3). Mahomes has been hindered by an underperforming crop of receivers marred by dropped catches and misunderstandings, even his star tight end Travis Kelce, until recently, coming up shy of his typically game-changing standards at times. Mahomes hasn’t been blame-free, either, but as long as No 15 is under center the Chiefs will always be in contention.
Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce broke Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s record for the most postseason touchdowns scored by a quarterback and a receiver
The story of the Chiefs’ 2023 season has been defense, orchestrated by Steve Spagnuolo through his tormenting disguised coverages and rotated down lineman to muddy the field read of opposing quarterbacks. Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed have epitomised the physicality and multi-faceted tools of Spagnuolo’s unit as slot-jammers and pocket-rushers, while Chris Jones and George Karlaftis remain the disruptive faces of Kansas City’s defensive front. Nick Bolton’s late season return from injury has meanwhile provided an injection of both brains and brawn as one of the heartbeats of Spagnuolo’s unit, his ability to diagnose play designs matched by the range that will pit him in key matchups against both George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey.
Story of their season: The Chiefs won the AFC West division title for an eighth-straight season, with an 11-6 record – the longest active streak in the league and second-longest in NFL history behind only the 11-straight years the Patriots won the AFC East from 2009 to 2019. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the defending champions this season, heading into the playoffs off the back of five defeats in their last 10 and with their usually so dependable offense faltering.
Kansas City Chiefs 2023 season
|AFC Championship Game
Potential Super Bowl X Factor: Isiah Pacheco just watched the Detroit Lions and their rushing attack torch the 49ers on the ground during the first half of the NFC Championship Game. It is no coincidence that some of Kansas City’s most accomplished and balance servings of offensive football have come on productive days for their young running back, who has 254 yards and three touchdowns through three playoff outings as Reid’s trusted clock-controller and drive-extender. He is invaluable to luring San Francisco downhill enough to prop up Mahomes’ young receiving core for success.
Speaking on Inside The Huddle, Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold discuss whether it should be considered a dynasty if the Kansas City Chiefs win a third Super Bowl in six years
Playoff history: The Chiefs have made it all the way to the Super Bowl on five occasions, losing to the Green Bay Packers in the very first Super Bowl, before triumphing over the Minnesota Vikings three years later… though then came a 50-year drought, which was finally ended in the 2018 season as Kansas City famously fought back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the 49ers 31-20. The Chiefs missed the chance to go back-to-back as they were beaten by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following year, but Mahomes would rally the team to their second ring in four seasons with an epic 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Arizona last February.
Chiefs regular season rankings
How they got here: For all their wobbles and hobbles throughout the regular season, the defending champions have turned it on at the right time and arrive into Super Bowl LVIII playing some of their best football. Postseason nous and experience pays, and Reid’s side have exercised as much to topple leading contenders on their way to Las Vegas.
Harrison Butker kicked four field goals while Rashee Rice and Isiah Pacheco both scored touchdowns as the Chiefs neutralised Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins in their 26-7 Wild Card round victory to kick off their playoff campaign amid freezing conditions at Arrowhead Stadium. While Spagnuolo’s secondary jammed Tyreek Hill into non-factor territory, Mahomes was efficient enough alongside a Pacheco-led ground game to dictate a contest that had promised more.
The Chiefs would inflict yet another knockout blow to the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl dreams as they booked their spot in a sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game with a 27-24 Divisional Round victory at Orchard Park. Buffalo had been riding a six-game winning streak after turning their season around in dramatic fashion, only to be stifled by two touchdown catches from Kelce, another Pacheco end zone visit and Tyler Bass’ decisive late field goal miss.
Highlights from the Kansas City Chiefs against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game
Kansas City’s road to the Super Bowl was complete when they stunned the No 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens with a 17-10 win in the AFC Championship Game. Kelce and Pacheco delivered first-half touchdowns before the Chiefs leaned on Spagnuolo’s defense to frustrate probable MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw a late interception while chasing the game after Zay Flowers had lost a costly fumble, forced by the L’Jarius Sneed, at the goalline. Ravens hearts broken; Chiefs dreams ignited.
What’s been said already:
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes: “The last time we tried to go back-to-back we won like – I think we were like 14-1 going into that last week, got to rest, lost that game and then kind of rolled through the playoffs. It’s never easy, but we played well and we were just kind of like, ‘Oh we’re going to do it again. We’re going to go out there and play again’ and we got our butt kicked.
“So, this year it’s been completely opposite. It’s been a struggle throughout the season, and we’ve had to continue to get better and better. That’s what I’ve always preached. I think some of the losses forced up – we have to continue to get better.”
Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce can’t wait to get going in Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on 49ers tight end George Kittle: “He’s the best tight end in the league. He’s been playing lights out, playing the best football of his career and really catapulting that San Fran team through the playoffs, man. And I couldn’t be more proud of him and couldn’t be more honoured to go up against George in another Super Bowl. Can’t say enough things about who he is as a guy, who his family is, can’t say a bad thing about him.”
San Francisco 49ers
NFC West division champions – 12-5 regular-season record
49ers 2023 regular-season stats leaders
- Passing: Brock Purdy 308/444, 4,280 yards, 31 TDs, 11 INTs
- Rushing: Christian McCaffrey, 272 yards, 1,459 yards, 14 TDs
- Receiving: Brandon Aiyuk, 75 catches, 1,342 yards, 7 TDs
- Sacks: Nick Bosa – 10.5
- Interceptions: Chavarius Ward – 5
- Tackles: Fred Warner – 132
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan is considered one of the most influential head coaches in the league, and perhaps the game’s greatest modern offensive mind, with his team again ranking towards the top of the league – second in total offense (398.4 yards per game) and third in scoring (28.9 points per game). This is San Francisco’s fourth trip to the postseason in the past five years under Shanahan, with each of the prior trips taking them to the NFC Championship game (at least), though he is yet to win a Super Bowl for his efforts. Is this the year?
Key player: It’s hard to pick, with this 49ers squad loaded with top-tier talent. With that said, the two names that have thrust themselves into MVP contention are quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey. This offense runs through McCaffrey, illustrated by his 2,023 total yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns, which included one in an NFL joint-record streak of 17 consecutive games, dating back to last season. Purdy, meanwhile, has continued his unlikely ascent in his sophomore season, the former seventh-round draft pick ranking third in the NFL in passing touchdowns (31), first in passing yards per attempt (9.6) and passer rating (113.0). McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk. It is as potent a pick-your-poison offense as the NFL has to offer.
Watch the best plays from San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy from the 2023 season
On the other side of the ball, Fred Warner continues to preach of the value in possessing elite off-ball linebackers in the modern NFL as one of the most gifted operators in his position and one of the heartbeats of Steve Wilks’ defense. And leading the way up front is star pass rush Nick Bosa, who topped the team with 10.5 sacks during the regular season.
Story of their season: The 49ers were cruising as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, with many tipping them as favourites to win the whole thing – that is until they were punched in the mouth with a 33-19 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 in what had looked a possible Super Bowl preview matchup between the two respective No 1 seeds. Having marched to a 5-0 start they stumbled across a three-game skid, before winning six straight following their bye in a run that included a statement 42-19 rout of the Eagles.
San Francisco 49ers 2023 season
|NFC Championship Game
Potential Super Bowl X Factor: The big mystery to Baltimore’s game-plan against the Chiefs was the inactivity of a running game that had steamrolled most of the league all season, particularly in light of the Bills enjoying such success on the ground during stages of their defeat a week earlier. It is how you get at this Kansas City defense. With that in mind, the stage seems to be set for George Kittle to play a defining role as one of the primary blockers to San Francisco’s outside zone attack, which, led by McCaffrey, will test every ounce of the Chiefs’ lateral mobility up front and the sideline-to-sideline range of their Bolton-led linebacker group. He also looms as perhaps the biggest test of physicality that the Chiefs’ prized secondary has encountered all season in the passing game.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has scored at least one touchdown in 17 consecutive games in the NFL
Playoff history: The 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in Super Bowl history, with their five wins placing them level with the Dallas Cowboys and seeing them bettered only by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots (both six) – and Tom Brady’s seven! That said, San Francisco last tasted success nearly three decades ago in the 1994 season, and have lost their two trips since – to the Ravens in 2012 and to Mahomes’ Chiefs in 2019. They very nearly made it back to the big dance in each of the last two years, only to lose out in back-to-back NFC Championship appearances, to their division-rival Los Angeles Rams in 2021 and the Eagles last year as they lost Purdy to an early injury.
49ers regular season rankings
How they got here: Twice the 49ers have been asked to dig deep in the playoffs in their bid to book a Super Bowl return. Twice they have been up to the challenge, Shanahan’s side not only parading their depth of talent in the process but demonstrating the poise and resilience to fend off adversity that had threatened to end their season.
Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers pushed them all the way in a Divisional Round thriller, but saw their efforts go unrewarded as McCaffrey’s touchdown with 1.11 remaining and Dre Greenlaw’s game-icing interception snatched a 24-21 victory for the 49ers. Love had given Green Bay a 21-14 advantage with touchdown passes to Bo Melton and Tucker Kraft either side of McCaffrey’s 39-yard house call, before Purdy led a 12-play 69-yard drive culminating in McCaffrey’s go-ahead run to edge the 49ers towards the next round.
Highlights from the Detroit Lions against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game
San Francisco went on to secure their place at the Super Bowl by overcoming a 17-point half-time deficit to stop the Detroit Lions – looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in history – in their tracks with a 34-31 win in the NFC Championship Game. Trailing 24-7, the 49ers reeled off 17 points in the third quarter before Elijah Mitchell’s fourth-quarter rushing score put the game out of reach.
What’s been said already:
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy: “I feel like all of us, we’re sort of learning just that chip on our shoulder, the mindset of our backs being against the wall and we need it. That’s when our best style of ball comes out and we all step up to the plate and play our best. When we needed to come back, we step it up, we pick it up, the intensity, everyone’s just on it and on point. If we can have that kind of mindset early on, just like we have all year and come out firing away, I think that’s when our defense plays well with that.”
49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilkes on his unit’s performance vs Detroit: “Collectively as a team, I can tell you as a defense it’s unacceptable. Alright. We talked about that. I wish I could tell these guys on play four, on play 27, this is what’s going to happen. You don’t know. We’ve got to make sure that we play every down as if it’s going to be the difference in the ball game. And you could see on those particular plays, it wasn’t to our standard. Those guys understand and know that and, quite honestly, it was embarrassing.”
What do I need to know about Super Bowl LVIII?
Kick-off in the big game is at 11.30pm UK time live on Sky Sports NFL.
Watch all the best build-up coverage from 10pm, with Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter joined in Las Vegas by former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins.
You can also stream Sky Sports’ live Super Bowl coverage with NOW.
For subscribers, watch live on Sky Sports NFL on your TV or mobile device via the Sky Sports app or Sky Go, while non-subscribers can buy a NOW Sports Day Membership to stream the big game without a contract on a multitude of different devices.
On the Sky Sports NFL website and app we will keep you updated on all things Super Bowl, bringing you all of the latest news, player interviews, pundit analysis and podcasts ahead of the big game. And we’ll have a live commentary page following Super Bowl LVIII itself – including video of the biggest touchdowns and moments from throughout the night.
Watch Super Bowl LVIII – the 49ers against the Chiefs – live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday February 11. The game starts at 11.30pm. Stream the Super Bowl and lots more great sport with NOW.
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