We’re a little over an hour away from kickoff, but the Guardian has produced a lot of pregame reading for all of you to take up your time from now and then.
Here, for instance, is Graham Searles’s profile on Chiefs defensive back L’Jarius Sneed, who could be a key for Kansas City slowing down this Niners offense.
My faithful editor Tom Lutz is in Las Vegas to provide on-the-field updates! Here’s his first.
Hello from Vegas where it’s a beautiful sunny day. I guess that’s the advantage of holding a Super Bowl in the desert (not that it matters when the stadium has a roof). Allegiant is about a quarter full with an hour or so to go to kick-off. It’s hard to tell which fans are in the majority when both teams play in red. But from closer observation in the days leading up to the game, I’d say the Chiefs have slightly more support on the ground (plenty of Steelers jerseys too, I guess they bought their tickets when Mason Rudolph got hot).
Email from Charlie Bird:
I am looking forward to which totally unexpected plays are going to be unveiled in the game tonight.
Both head coaches being who they are they will have things up their sleeves for just this occasion.
The likes of Kyle Juszczyk and Clyde Edwards-Helaire making big catches out of the backfield are always fun.
I would love an onside kick to start the second half, like the one the New Orleans Saints used to ambush the Indianapolis Colts
Email from Joe Pearson:
MVP might end up being CMC, but you can get 20-1 on Deebo. Just saying.
Do-it-all 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel is also a prime candidate for MVP although it’s time for a parting confession as I wrap up my time here: I have never once bet on a sporting event and if you’ve been keeping track of my predictions over the years, you’ll know that I have made the correct decision!
Email from Mark Moran:
I’m going to go against your writers on this one and predict that the Niners squeak this one by a field goal. I think a stellar performance from Christian McCaffrey, the quality of the ever-underrated Brandon Aiyuk and the versatile Deebo Samuel, and a relatively efficient and error-free display from Brock Purdy should be enough; it’s difficult to bet against Mahomes and Reid, though.
I think the Chiefs’ over-reliance on Travis Kelce may come back to bite them. With Kadarius Toney out (arguably an advantage for Kansas), perhaps a display of quality from MVS could help to turn the tide and take some pressure off KC’s star tight end and rookie receiver Rashee Rice? KC has the advantage at OL and in the secondary, but I think the star quality of Trent Williams and Nick Bosa give SF the advantage outside of the skill positions. L’Jarius Sneed and Creed Humphrey may have something to say about that, however.
As a Panthers fan, I would love to see CMC and 49ers DC Steve Wilks, two guys who gave so much to our organisation, win a ring. Either way, let’s hope for a tight, high-scoring game. 24-21 San Francisco.
Enjoy the game!
Someone else agrees with my prediction! I’m always a fan of this!
And yes bad news for Toney, the inconsistent Chiefs receiver is not expected to play in the Super Bowl. Toney has had just a single touchdown on the season and has been prone to make mistakes all season long, including an offside penalty against the Buffalo Bills that took a touchdown off the board.
Super Bowl quiz
Looking for a way to pass the time before the Super Bowl starts? Why don’t you take your chances at filling out Bryan Armen Graham’s Super Bowl quiz!
I, uh, got a mere 12/20 despite covering Super Bowls being my literal job for nearly a decade. Perhaps it is very much time to move on!
Taylor Swift is in the building. The pop star has arrived at Allegiant Stadium after wrapping up the last of four shows in Japan on Saturday night, hopping on a private plane at Haneda airport for a flight across nine time zones and the international date line, then making the quick trip from Los Angeles after landing on Saturday afternoon.
Here she is introducing Ice Spice to Jason Kelce, one of many outcomes we couldn’t have imagined back in September.
I feel as if I’ve been proven wrong for picking against Patrick Mahomes pretty much every single time I’ve done so, so this very well could be right.
I will say this: should San Francisco win, expect running back Christian McCaffrey to win MVP.
It feels like everybody is picking the Chiefs! It feels weird to me because I genuinely believe San Francisco is clearly the better team and has a slight edge assuming that Brock Purdy doesn’t have one of the Bad Brock Purdy Games.
Now, that’s quite the possibility! I just think that the Chiefs have been relying too much on Mahomes and that if he just has a human game, the Niners can take advantage of that.
It will be a close game. I’m predicting the 49ers squeak by on a field goal, maybe 49ers 31-28 Chiefs? Feel free to offer your own prediction, either via email (to email@example.com) or X (@HunterFelt).
The only thing harder than winning the Lombardi trophy is defending it. Only eight teams have managed to win back-to-back Super Bowls and three of those repeats happened in the first decade of the game’s existence.
Green Bay Packers (1966-67); defeated Kansas City and Oakland
Miami Dolphins (1972-73); defeated Washington and Minnesota
Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-75); defeated Minnesota and Dallas
Pittsburgh Steelers (1978-79); defeated Dallas and the LA Rams
San Francisco 49ers (1988-89); defeated Cincinnati and Denver
Dallas Cowboys (1992-93); defeated Buffalo and Buffalo
Denver Broncos (1997-98); defeated Green Bay and Atlanta
New England Patriots (2003-04); defeated Carolina and Philadelphia
Not only can Kansas City join this elite class by defeating San Francisco tonight, but the Chiefs could become the first ever repeat champions to win both games as underdogs. Each of the previous eight teams to do the double were betting favorites in one or both games.
Hello I must be going
One thing I’ve learned in the last 12-plus years I’ve been covering sports is that it’s better to leave a year too early than a year too late. In that spirit, I must announce that today is my last day writing for the Guardian US.
It’s a decision I didn’t make lightly! This has been the most fun job a person could possibly have, particularly when writing these liveblogs. You have been an amazing audience. It, however, was time for me to find something new. I’m not sure what that will be yet, but I didn’t want to stick around for too long when it started just being a Thing I Did For Money. It’s time for fresh blood here, I know for a fact that whoever will be replacing me will be doing an amazing job. I will still be reading for certain!
I don’t want to make this all about me; these blogs are about the game. I just wanted to make that clear upfront. I’ll save my final goodbyes until the end. We have many, many hours together before then. I’ll cherish them all.
Hello all, welcome to the conclusion of the NFL season. If this feels like a familiar matchup, it’s because we were here before! It was over four years ago when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 back in 2020. I remember it like it was yesterday but only because I also remember yesterday very poorly!
This 49ers were probably the most complete team in football all season long. While the Chiefs have the edge at quarterback, Brock Purdy has a better set of offensive weapons. Even when they fell behind early to the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game, they were able to put together a perfect second half to mount an impressive comeback. They can’t afford to fall behind that early to the Chiefs, but one suspects that they know it.
However, the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the most important player in the league for a reason and he’s proved it in what may well be his most impressive season to date. The Chiefs have had a depleted receiver core meaning that he’s had to do more heavy lifting than in seasons past. It’s a load he’s proven more than capable of lifting. Plus, he still has Travis Kelce at tight end who must be feeling pretty invincible now that he has the Most Famous Pop Star on the Planet rooting for him.
So, it’s the best team v the best quarterback in the year’s biggest game. That sounds like it will be fun to me. For one final time, you can contribute to our live coverage of this NFL season. If you have email, and you probably do since it’s 2024, you can send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re still on Twitter or X or whatever Elon wants to call it, you can shoot them off to @HunterFelt. We’ll publish them throughout today’s coverage.
It’s Super Bowl LVIII featuring the San Francisco 49ers v the Kansas City Chiefs at Nevada’s Allegiant Stadium! The game is scheduled to start at 6.30pm ET, but this is the Super Bowl! It’s not going to start on time! We will continue to provide updates before then as we can get you up to speed until the start of the Big Game.
It’s two and a half hours until kick-off and Allegiant Stadium is already filling up.
Hunter will be with you shortly, in the meantime here are our writers’ predictions for today’s game (49ers fans may want to stop reading here):
49ers 24-27 Chiefs. This is one of those heart-mind picks. The Niners are a better all-around team. The Chiefs have an exceptional defense, but few answers to the specific strain the Niners’ offense puts on opponents. But they also have the most talented player walking the Earth at the game’s most valuable position. This is a Mahomes pick. The Chiefs shouldn’t be here; they’re a flawed team, with the worst offensive group Mahomes has worked during his career. But he’s still Mahomes – and it’s tough to pick against the quarterback continuing his dynastic run. Oliver Connolly
49ers 24-30 Chiefs. Purdy plays well, but the Chiefs D gets the better of him in the end. Andrew Lawrence
49ers 14-31 Chiefs. It would be fun to see the Niners win, just because they haven’t claimed a title this century/millennium while the Chiefs are already a modern dynasty. But this won’t be close: the Niners were lucky to get past the Packers and would have lost to the Lions if it wasn’t for a few doses of fortune. In both games, the defense was unimpressive and the result turned on plays that could have gone either way. The Ravens wiped the floor with San Francisco over Christmas, and the Chiefs will do the same on Sunday. Tom Lutz
49ers 33-28 Chiefs. Heart or head? Well, ego trumps both. The 49ers were my preseason darlings and you just have to stick, don’t you. (I also have to try to claw back credibility for suggesting the Ravens would miss the playoffs.) Shanahan is going to cook up something truly special to get his first ring. Next year’s trilogy fight is going to be spicy. Graham Searles
You can read our full rundown of predictions for the game, from the MVP to how each team can win, here: