It is my last article of the year. Super Bowl LIV is here. The term Super Bowl is credited to the Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. But a deep-dive investigation into the veracity of this naming results in opinion and murkiness. Since we have the name Super Bowl and it has been around since the first Super Bowl, assigning the origin to the owner of one of the teams participating in the 1st Super Bowl makes sense so I will take it. And in our fractured society, there will still be 100 million viewers that will come together and munch on snacks a-plenty Super Bowl Sunday. Will you be one of them?
The Kansas City Chiefs are playing for the third time in franchise history. They are taking on the San Francisco 49ers who are getting to the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. There is some numerology into this matchup not that it matters in the outcome but for some reason, it placates the mind. The Kansas City Chiefs last appeared and won a Super Bowl in 1970 which was 50 years ago. The San Francisco 49ers last won a Super Bowl in 1995 which was 25 years ago. Numbers! But before I start talking about the game I must talk to my prognostication this year.
Prognostication is like being overly tenuous. Just guessing from a hat gets you a 50% win rate so beating that is what I look for every year. This year, I ended my prognostication 2-0 and after a 4-0 record during Championship weekend, it came in at a 7-3 record in the playoffs for the year. After starting out the playoffs with a 1-3 record I went 6-0! I will take it. Sometimes opinions work and for some reason maybe the fact of being one year removed from my mother’s death has gotten the old brain back to some form of prognostication functionality. My friend Eddie told me it was going to be the Baltimore Ravens and the New Orleans Saints as the profound favorites for the Super Bowl this year. That is what is weird about prognostication. Even relatively rare opinions reward sometimes.
Super Bowl LIV
There is an eerie calmness to the Super Bowl this year. Both participants played their way into the contest with decisive home victories. The game is in Miami Gardens which is a quick 20 or so mile trip up Route 95 from Miami Beach. For all you weird road nerds, Route 95 begins in Miami Beach, Florida and wanders up the East Coast through major metropolitan areas like Savannah, Richmond, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York and Boston only to end at the Houlton International Airport in Houlton, Maine. Get the bookend 3P (Place/Peep/Post) temperatures of those areas on the old weather channel right? Let’s do it. As of this writing which is Saturday morning before Super Bowl Sunday…
Hard Rock Stadium Miami Florida – 74 degrees Fahrenheit
~1800 Miles and 26 hours or so later by car North
Houlton International Airport, Maine – 16 degrees Fahrenheit
Now that is some bookends for a road! Route 95 has road envy over Route 66. Route 66 gets all the fame because it is over 2400 miles long. Hey, since we have secured the location of the affair let us get to the feeling about the game.
There is an overall feel in the NFL fan community that a page is being turned. Gone is the old guard and in is “the new”. The New England Patriots find themselves not in this game and make news by themselves by not being here for the first time in 4 years. As a result of this burden of Patriot feelings being lifted, everyone is excited for two new teams with two new successful quarterbacks and their overall successful records. San Francisco 49er QB Jimmy Garoppolo rode the pine behind Tom Brady in New England so even though he is older than the Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes he has started fewer games. What is their success rate? Well, Patrick Mahomes has a gaudy lifetime winning percentage of .771 (27-8). Jimmy G’s is even gaudier at .821 (23-5). These two franchises are alike in that they have turned into the upper echelon of NFL teams and it has resulted in a visit to this Super Bowl with offenses that bring out the best in their quarterbacks.
So let us talk about the state of the NFL game.
The NFL Has Become Complex
It was just last year that I wrote about how the game had become Nerf football and the Super Bowl set a record for most punts and it was a low scoring slow game. Well, that did not turn out as planned. I did say it would get off to a slow start but waiting until the 4th quarter to start any Super Bowl offense is unacceptable. This year the NFL has become complex. How so? Let me illustrate a point. In the San Francisco 49er championship game, if you were dropped out of a time machine and shown the stats you would say “that is odd”. What is odd about the stats time-machine-person I would ask? Your answer would be “The San Francisco 49ers won with their QB going 6-8 in throwing for 77 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INT. Are you sure this is the year 2020”?
The answer time-machine-person is that the NFL has become sophisticated. Winning is winning whether by the air or by the ground in the 2020 NFL season. The San Francisco 49er offense went over one hour in between throws during that championship game. Will the Kansas City offense go one minute? The point is that run schemes can exploit a pass ready defense and the coach Kyle Shanahan is willing to rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat until it is no longer working. The Green Bay Packers never demonstrated the ability to stop the run so they never possessed an opportunity to exhibit they could stop the pass and the pass protection point became moot. So San Francisco has shown everything old is new again with their run-as-need-to offense.
So let us get to the chase.
As with every year, I make the case for each team.