Under the lights of Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, the NFL will crown their champion for the first time in a decade in South Florida – in a battle of one team that has an amazing offense and another with a potent defense that both come into the game with lengthy title droughts looking to be snapped.
For the first time in 50 seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs are back in the biggest game of the season looking to not just come for the sight seeing in Miami Gardens this weekend – but to bring home a title for the team, the city and their longtime head coach Andy Reid.
On the other sideline will be a San Francisco 49ers team that went from being a team that won five Super Bowls in a 14 season period – including two inside the stadium they are playing in this weekend – to a team that hasn’t won the crown in over a quarter century.
Here’s a in-depth look at the two teams looking to bring home the Lombardi Trophy to a fan base desperate for a title.
San Francisco 49ers
The flight across the country for the team from the Bay Area is one they are used to in the postseason, having done it to win both Super Bowl XXIII and XXIX in a much different version of what is now Hard Rock Stadium.
For the first half of the season, the 49ers looked like one of their dominant teams from the 1980s as they were unbeaten through the first eight games. San Francisco would finish the regular season with a 13-3 record that saw the three losses come by a combined 13 points. The easy road would continue in the postseason with home blowout wins against Minnesota and Green Bay.
San Francisco is led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a man who won two titles as a backup in New England and finished the regular season a few first downs short of 4,000 yards passing with over 1,000 of them going to tight end George Kittle.
The rushing game is led by Raheem Mostert – a man who was cut by the Miami Dolphins and others before finding a spot with the Niners that allowed him to have a monster four-touchdown game over the Packers to win the NFC.
The top ranked defense is led by a defensive line among the best in the league – including rookie defensive end and South Florida native Nick Bosa – that have a total of 48 sacks in the regular season while the secondary is led by veteran defensive back Richard Sherman.
Kansas City Chiefs
In January 1970, the men from Missouri were the kings of professional football – and ever since that point, they have been waiting to get back to this moment. That wait looked like it might take a little bit longer at one point in the season.
After winning their first four games, the Chiefs dropped three of their next four and had some fans worried. Luckily, quarterback Patrick Mahomes would come back from a knee injury in a big way that led to seven wins in the second half of the season. The playoffs were a different story, as Kansas City spotted both Houston and Tennessee big first half leads before coming back to win the AFC for the first time in half a century.
Despite missing several games with the injury, Mahomes was still able to throw for over 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and look like the league’s MVP that he was the season before – and just like the 49ers, the leading receiver for K.C. is their tight end in Travis Kelce and his over 1,200 yards. The run game has been non-existent at points with their two leading rusher – LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams – both having under 500 yards on the ground in 2019.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chiefs have been known to give up plenty of points but also combined for 45 sacks this season, including eight from defensive end and free agent star Frank Clark, to go along with 16 interceptions that is led by four alone from safety Tyrann Mathieu.
This will be the first time the teams have met in the playoffs – but the teams have been familiar with each other of late, including Kansas City getting a win in the 2018 regular season for the third time in their last four meetings with San Francisco. All time, the 49ers hold a slight 7-6 lead in the series.
Neither team has a player who spent their college careers playing for the Miami Hurricanes or FIU Panthers, but the Chiefs hold the lead in players from colleges in the state of Florida (two from FSU, one from Florida and one from USF) along with cornerback Rashad Fenton, who played high school football at Miami Carol City and worked at Hard Rock Stadium.
The 49ers come into the game with two players who spent time at a Sunshine State college (one each at Florida and FAU) and have Bosa on the roster, who spent his high school time as a star for St. Thomas Aquinas.
Welcome (Back) to Miami
The biggest game of the season returns to South Florida for a record setting 11th time – the first since the February 2010 game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. This year’s game breaks a tie between Miami and New Orleans for hosting the most Super Bowl games.