There is no clear qualification for an NFL dynasty. But whatever the benchmarks are, the Kansas City Chiefs will likely meet them with another Super Bowl victory.
The Chiefs have been to four Super Bowls in five seasons. They have won two, with a chance to win a third on Sunday. If you consider the 1990s Dallas Cowboys a dynasty, you’ll also have to include that era of the Chiefs, if they win another one. The Cowboys have been to three Super Bowls and won all three. The Chiefs could win three Super Bowl championships and four conference championships in five years. After that, they could no longer be denied entry into the dynasty club.
“It’s been talked about a lot,” tight end Travis Kelce said of the dynasty talk. “I think number three is an important number in terms of dynasties and things like that. Hopefully we can get this thing and you can start talking about dynasties. We’re trying to get that third ring though. “
The San Francisco 49ers once had a dynasty, but they haven’t won a Super Bowl since. It seems strange that the 49ers’ last Super Bowl championship came at the end of the 1994 season. One of the reasons the 49ers haven’t won it all in almost 30 years is the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes led a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV four years ago.
On Sunday, the 49ers will look to get their revenge, while the Chiefs will look to take another step toward dynasty status.
[How to watch the Super Bowl: TV channels, streaming and mobile options]
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
Betting line: 49ers -2, total is 47.5
Odds via BetMGM
Why we watch (non-football reasons)
Last year, 114.3 million viewers watched the Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. The game was only part of the show.
The Super Bowl is a cultural event. On Sunday, country star Reba McEntire will sing the national anthem. Post Malone will sing “America the Beautiful” and Andra Day will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to round out the pregame lineup. Usher will headline the halftime show.
The entertainment will also have a Las Vegas twist, as Kaskade will be the first in-game DJ at a Super Bowl (he replaced Tiësto, who had a family emergency), playing a pre-game set and during some breaks in the game like Good.
And of course, we’re all keeping an eye on superstar Taylor Swift and how often CBS will show the Chiefs’ most famous fan (who arrived from Tokyo on time).
Why we watch (football related reasons)
A 49ers victory would legitimize their season and put them in a pretty good place in history. The 49ers have been a very good team for much of the season, aside from a three-game losing streak midway through the season and a lopsided loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens. Yet heading into Sunday’s game, the big story is the Chiefs.
The Chiefs turned around an uneven playoff season and put together one of the best runs we’ve seen, considering the competition. The Chiefs beat a Miami Dolphins team that had one of the best offenses in football, then went on the road and beat the Buffalo Bills and Ravens in back-to-back weeks. The Bills were considered one of the five best teams in the NFL, and the Ravens were the consensus choice as the NFL’s No. 1 team for the playoffs.
Some fans may be tired of seeing the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bow, but we are witnessing history being made with every title won by Mahomes, Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Troy Aikman are the only quarterbacks to win at least three Super Bowls as starters, and Mahomes could join that group at just 28 years old. Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs are the only coaches to win more than two Super Bowls, and Reid would join that class with a victory.
What could put us to sleep
It may not be a high-scoring Super Bowl, which could turn off fans who watch football to pass the time between commercials.
The total of 47.5 at BetMGM is the lowest since Super Bowl 50 eight years ago. The total for this game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers was 43.5 and was lower in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory. The Chiefs are best known for having Mahomes as their quarterback, but this season their biggest story has been a much-improved defense. The Chiefs have allowed 41 points in three playoff games against a trio of very good offenses. They have allowed 21 points or fewer in 17 of 20 games this season.
The 49ers’ defense was not as good in the playoffs, allowing 52 points in two games, but in the regular season they ranked third in points allowed and eighth in yards allowed. Despite star players in both offenses, this could be a low-scoring game.
Wild card of this Super Bowl
While Patrick Mahomes is the superstar, Isiah Pacheco has played a big role in the Chiefs offense. He has 63 carries for 254 yards and three rushing touchdowns in the playoffs. In two of his last three regular season games, he rushed for over 100 yards.
Pacheco didn’t play more than 70% of the offensive snaps in any Chiefs game this season until Week 12, but since then he’s been above 70% in every game except one, when he returned of an injury. Mahomes has made some big plays in the playoffs, but the Chiefs have passed for more than 303 yards only once in 20 games this season. Pacheco’s production could play a bigger role than we think in deciding the winner of this game.
Superstar to watch
There are many choices. Travis Kelce came alive in the playoffs and dominated after failing to reach 1,000 yards in the regular season. Deebo Samuel has an argument as the 49ers’ most valuable player, given how San Francisco’s offense struggles without him in the lineup. Look for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to get Samuel the ball in plenty of creative ways on Sunday. And don’t lose track of George Kittle or Brandon Aiyuk.
But Christian McCaffrey is the non-quarterback star who could make this his Super Bowl. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns this season, which is why he was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year. What sets McCaffrey apart is that he is excellent in every part of the game. He is a great runner who just won his first rushing title. He is one of the best receivers in history, reaching 80 catches in a season four times and 100 twice.
A big part of the Super Bowl could be McCaffrey’s usual quality near the goal line. This season, including the playoffs, he has scored 18 touchdowns from the 10-yard line. McCaffrey also rarely comes off the field. He played 98% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps in the Divisional Round and 91% in the NFC Championship Game. He had three games this season in which he played 100% of the offensive snaps. It’s a workload that evokes memories of old-school fullbacks such as Walter Payton and Earl Campbell.
You’re going to see a lot of McCaffrey on Sunday. And he has the ability to become the story of the Super Bowl, which would add to the growing argument that he’s already one of the best running backs in NFL history.
Person we will probably congratulate after victory
If the oddsmakers are right and the 49ers are victorious, the Brock Purdy story takes a very interesting turn. The NFL’s latest never-ending debate has been whether Purdy is a top-tier quarterback or just a lucky seventh-round pick in a 49ers offense that drafts him. This debate won’t matter as much if Purdy enters the group of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in his second NFL season.
Whether or not it was due to his supporting cast and a great offensive coach in Kyle Shanahan, Purdy had a great season. He threw for more yards per game than Patrick Mahomes in the regular season, at 267.5 to Mahomes’ 261.4. He led all NFL starting quarterbacks with a passer rating of 113. Still, quarterbacks are judged in the Super Bowl, and Purdy’s accomplishments would be seen in a much different light if he added a Super Bowl title to his resume at age 24.
No one we’ll probably guess after the loss
If the Chiefs don’t win, we’ll probably focus on the passers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney have been criticized this season. Rashee Rice has been great lately, but it’s hard to depend on a rookie in a Super Bowl. Even Kelce had a somewhat quiet season by his standards before heading into the playoffs. The 49ers have a very good pass defense and can limit a Chiefs passing attack that was good but not great this season. If that happens, it’s unlikely that the blame will fall too heavily on Patrick Mahomes.