Super Bowl LVIII projections: Chiefs meet 49ers in rematch of 2020 game

The Super Bowl LVIII showdown in Las Vegas is set. In two weeks, the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs will defend their crown against the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of Super Bowl LIV.

Jeff Howe breaks down the matchup before The Athletic’s projection model, created by Austin Mock, reveals each team’s odds of achieving football immortality.

Super Bowl LVIII preview

So much for those regular-season woes.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was scintillating against the NFL’s best defense, completing 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown in a 17-10 victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, the Ravens settled down once Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was through with his script, but Mahomes was efficient, mistake-free and delivered when necessary, as evidenced by his late 32-yard strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on third-and-9 to secure the win.



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The Chiefs didn’t beat themselves, which had been the case more frequently this season. A major reason? Mahomes stuck with the players who got them here. He was 23-of-24 for 176 yards and a touchdown when targeting tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Rashee Rice and running back Isaiah Pacheco, who added 24 carries for 68 yards and a score.

And once again, the Chiefs defense was phenomenal, shutting down MVP favorite Lamar Jackson and forcing three pivotal turnovers. The Chiefs have held four of their last five opponents to 17 points or less.

But settle down on the Chiefs’ coronation. While the 49ers were supposed to be here — if their NFC regular-season dominance carried any weight — they were anything but sure participants as they trailed the Detroit Lions by 17 points in the NFC Championship Game.

Well, so much for quarterback Brock Purdy’s inability to lead the 49ers from behind, which he’s now done twice in a row with mounting degrees of difficulty. Neither Purdy nor anyone from the 49ers will be deterred by the Mahomes mystique, even if some have already succumbed to it.

This can’t be a quarterback battle, though, so don’t fall into the Mahomes-Purdy trap. If the 49ers are going to win their first Super Bowl in 29 years, they’ve got to do it on the ground with Christian McCaffrey and company. The Chiefs ranked 18th against the run and 24th in yards per attempt in the regular season, so they’re vulnerable against the rush.

This is a battle with historic implications. The Chiefs are in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years and trying to win their third in that stretch. They’re a win shy of becoming the first back-to-back champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots, and they’d lay their claim as the first dynasty of the post-Patriots era. If the franchise wins its fourth Super Bowl, it would be tied for the fifth most in history.

The 49ers are trying to restoke their glory days and avenge a Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs from four years ago. If they can win their sixth Super Bowl, they’d tie the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most all time.


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As regular season slog gives way to Super Bowl run, Patrick Mahomes remains inevitable

(Photo: Michael Zagaris / San Francisco 49ers / Getty Images)

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