The NFL Playoffs are about as reliable as watching Seinfeld before bed. The games always deliver, and when it comes to the Super Bowl, it seems always to be the two best teams duking it out in the big game. This year is a rematch of Super Bowl 54, as the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Francisco 49ers. Before we get into the storylines surrounding the game, how did we get to Las Vegas?
The Wild Card round brought plenty of storylines, beginning with the arrival of the Houston Texans. C.J. Stroud became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game after leading Houston to a 45-14 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns. In his first year as head coach, DeMeco Ryans made Houston an instant Super Bowl contender heading into 2024. The other games brought storylines galore: The Dolphins can’t win in cold weather (26-7, Kansas City), The Packers aren’t going anywhere (48-32 over Dallas), Jared Goff got his revenge (24-23 Detroit over LAR), Josh Allen can run the ball (31-17 Buffalo over Pittsburgh) and the Eagles had one of the worst collapses in history (a 32-9 loss to Tampa Bay).
While the divisional round brought less intrigue, each game was close. The Ravens ended the Cinderella story of C.J. Stroud and the Texans, dispatching them 34-10. The Packers played their hearts out, but Kyle Shanahan continues to dominate Matt LaFleur, as the 49ers escaped Green Bay 24-21. The Lions (yes, the Detroit Lions) made the NFC Championship game after a thrilling 31-23 victory in Detroit over Tampa Bay. Despite a career resurgence from Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay couldn’t muster enough stops on defense to create an upset. Finally, the heartbreak continued for Buffalo, as home-field advantage wasn’t enough to get over the hump against the Chiefs, who won 27-24 after another wide-right kick by the Bills. It was true misery: fans were seen sobbing in the stands. Sometimes, a team just owns you, and that’s what we see with the Chiefs and the Bills.
The Super Bowl was set after the Chiefs handled the Ravens 17-10, and the 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit from the Lions to win 34-31. While Patrick Mahomes did not play his best, the story of the game (and the season) has been Steve Spagnuolo’s defense for Kansas City. They made Lamar Jackson look like a deer in headlights all game; it will be interesting to see how Spags’ unit can handle Kyle Shanahan’s high-powered San Francisco offense in the Super Bowl. The 49ers, meanwhile, never quit in their matchup against the Lions. Brock Purdy has gone from Mr. Irrelevant to the face of the franchise in record time, and with a healthy unit headed into the Big Game, the 49ers will be looking to win their first title since 1994, when Steve Young threw for six touchdowns and Jerry Rice caught three of them.
Will Taylor Swift make an appearance? Who will win the coin toss? Can Patrick Mahomes continue his path toward Brady status? Or will a new star emerge in Brock Purdy? We shall discover the answers to these questions on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.