Super Bowl 54 will take place on Sunday, February 2, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
By: Riley Gillespie-Wilson
The stage is set for Super Bowl 54 between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs’ high-flying offence, which generated the second-most passing yards per-game in the playoffs, will have a tough test in a 49ers defence that gave up the fewest passing-yards per-game in the regular season this year. That’s not to say the 49ers offense is anything to sneeze at, either. They were actually the fourth-ranked offense this season, while the Chiefs were the sixth.
The 49ers won the last meeting between the two teams, 27-17, but that was an August 24 preseason meeting. Clearly, there’s a lot more on the line this time around. All in all, fans have agreed this has the makings to be one great Super Bowl. Why? Let’s go by the numbers.
25: 49ers coach Kyle Shannahan has been known throughout his career as an offensive guru. However, his defense gave up just 25 yards per-drive this season. (including playoffs) That’s the second-best in the NFL behind only a New England Patriots unit that stifled offenses all year long. The 49ers’ defense has simply had an incredibly easy time getting the opponent off the field this season.
125.2: The 49ers ‘D’ will have a handful in facing Patrick Mahomes, though. 2018 MVP Mahomes clearly likes to throw the deep ball, and he’s very, very good at it. He completed 36 of 69 passes of 20 yards or more this season, connecting on a league-leading 15 majors and just two interceptions. That gave him a league-leading 125.2 passer rating on these throws. For comparison’s sake, the league average on the deep ball was just 85.7. Mahomes has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, and Tyreek Hill’s lightning-like speed opens up the lengthy strike for him.
36.4: Mahomes may want to avoid one cornerback on the vaunted 49ers defence. Richard Sherman has given opposing quarterbacks nightmares all season long. QB’s targeting Sherman have just a 36.4 passer rating in the regular season and playoffs combined. Crazily enough, that rating is lower than a quarterback gets for throwing an incompletion on every throw. (39.6) That’s just a bonkers stat. Sherman will likely be tasked with covering the speedster Hill, which will put that impressive rating to the test, as Hill racked up the 15th most receiving yards this season, but the fourth most yards per-reception.
3.2: Speaking of Hill, he is lethally quick. He averaged 3.2 yards of separation from his primary defender at the time of the catch this year. That’s tied for the tenth-biggest gap among receivers this season. Apparently, though, Hill was only warming up in the regular season. He increased that digit to 3.5 in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans.
80: Sherman isn’t the only cog in the 49ers defence Mahomes and company will have to lookout for. Rookie Nick Bosa was the first 49ers rookie voted into the Pro Bowl since 2007, (Patrick Willis) and for good reason. Bosa’s 80 quarterback pressures were the most by a rookie pass rusher since Pro Football Focus started tracking them in 2006. Bosa had the sixth-most quarterback pressures among edge-defenders this season. He will be a threat to bring down Patrick Mahomes in this game, if the Chiefs struggle to contain him, like most offensive lines did this season.
.815: Football fans around the world are debating whether Chiefs head coach Andy Reid needs this win to cement his legacy. One thing is for sure: he’s in a good position to do so. When Reid rests, Reid wins. His teams are 22-5, (an .815 win percentage) during the regular season and playoffs, immediately following a week off. Whether it’s just the rest, good film study, a little bit of both, or something else entirely, Reid sure knows how to make the most of a bye week.
38.9%: If the Chiefs can get past the stifling coverage of Sherman and into the red-zone, there’s one man in particular they’ll be looking for. Including the playoffs, Travis Kelce’s 24 red-zone targets rank second in the league, and 14 of Kansas City’s 36 targets (38.9%) in goal-to-go yardage have landed in Kelce’s hands. That’s the highest ratio in the NFL.
Whether it’s Reid’s bye-week magic, Tyreek Hill’s separation speed, Richard Sherman’s lockdown coverage, or another factor that decides Super Bowl 54, the numbers dictate this being one spectacular game. The one number not mentioned: 1: the number of chances each team gets at this game. One tilt for all the marbles. Super Bowl 54.
TWEET: Beyond the players, and the halftime show, there are the defining digits. Super Bowl 54 by the numbers.