It has come down to the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV to punctuate the 2019-20 NFL season.
The Chiefs started by hosting the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. The Titans, having already upset the reigning champion New England Patriots and top-seeded Baltimore Ravens, looked solid in the first quarter behind regular-season rushing champion Derrick Henry. The Chiefs roared back and took control of the game, the turning point coming with a Patrick Mahomes 27-yard touchdown scramble:
Kansas City didn't relent from there and secured a 35-24 victory to advance to the franchise's first Super Bowl in 50 years.
The NFC Championship Game served as an anticlimactic encore as the top-seeded Niners took care of the visiting No. 2 Green Bay Packers 37-20 behind running back Raheem Mostert's 220 yards and four touchdowns. San Francisco's defense forced three turnovers and neutralized All-Pro Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
Raheem Mostert finished with a career-high 220 rushing yards on 29 carries in the @49ers NFC Championship win, reaching 15+ MPH on all 4 TD runs: ➤ 36-yard TD: 21.87 MPH ➤ 9-yard TD: 18.02 MPH ➤ 18-yard TD: 18.16 MPH ➤ 22-yard TD: 16.71 MPH #GBvsSF | Powered by @awscloud https://t.co/LgbNC2ifX5
Information surrounding the Chiefs-49ers matchup, including a look at each team's road to Super Bowl LIV this season, is below.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 2
Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs fell painfully short of the Super Bowl last season, losing 37-31 in overtime to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. This year, Kansas City will make its first Super Bowl trip since Super Bowl IV during the 1969 postseason.
It looked bleak when the Houston Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the divisional round, but the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs roared back to historically take a 28-24 lead into halftime and defeat the Texans 51-31:
NFL Research @NFLResearch
Today is the second time in the Super Bowl era that 2 teammates have scored 3+ scrimmage TD each in a playoff game. Travis Kelce and Damien Williams join the 49ers' Jerry Rice and Ricky Watters in Super Bowl XXIX as the only duos to accomplish the feat. @Chiefs | #ChiefsKingdom
The Tennessee Titans followed Houston's blueprint, leading by 10 on two different occasions in the first half. Mahomes and the Chiefs charged back (again), while the defense held Henry to 69 yards and one touchdown.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is the winningest coach without a Super Bowl ring or NFL championship in history, per NFL Research, and has long been tagged as an offensive mastermind, but Mahomes makes the execution of it all possible.
Kansas City's entire season was nearly derailed when Mahomes was hobbled with an ankle ailment before the reigning league MVP went down with a dislocated kneecap in Week 7 that cost him two games. The Chiefs lost a 35-32 thriller in Tennessee in Week 10, Mahomes' first game back, and have not lost since.
As excellent as the K.C. offense is, the defense improved drastically under first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Defensive end Frank Clark has been disruptive with four sacks this postseason, while safety Tyrann Mathieu has affected how the entire unit operates.
The 49ers defense has a tall task looming in Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. But given the way the Niners bottled up Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC title game, the Super Bowl's X-factor could be whether the Chiefs defense can mirror San Francisco's dominance defensively.
San Francisco 49ers
The top-seeded 49ers were led by their defense for the majority of this season. The unit was ranked first overall in passing defense and second in total defense to compensate for a 17th-ranked rushing defense in the regular season.
That dominance was only enhanced once the postseason hit. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings, who fell 27-10 in the divisional round:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
It was a dominant performance by the @49ers defense. They held the Vikings to... - 7 1st downs (tied for 3rd-fewest in playoff game all-time) - 147 yards (their worst in playoff game since 2000) - 21 rush yards (their worst in playoff game since 1974) https://t.co/aFR9esAggk
The Niners defense has been led by rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, whose impact was detailed by Josh Dubow of the Associated Press on Jan. 15:
"Nick Bosa was dominant as a rookie as well after being picked second overall last spring. His nine sacks were the fourth most ever for a 49ers rookie, and he ranked third in the NFL with 68 quarterback pressures, according to SportsInfo Solutions, trailing only Cameron Jordan and Danielle Hunter.
"... The Niners also made some schematic changes this season under new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, lining up the defensive ends out wider than in the past to create better angles to get to the quarterback and more 1-on-1 matchups.
"It has worked as advertised as the 49ers increased their sack total in the regular season from 36 to 48 and went from a record-low seven takeaways to 27 in large part because of the improved pass rush."
That pass rush will be crucial against Mahomes:
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
The @Chiefs offensive line's ability to hold up in pass protection was key to Patrick Mahomes' success through the air. Under Pressure: 3/10, 9 yards No Pressure: 20/25, 285 yards, 3 TD vs Blitz: 1/5, 7 yards No Blitz: 22/30, 287 yards, 3 TD #TENvsKC | #ChiefsKingdom https://t.co/PPZYrcSJ3V
San Francisco's rushing attack was also at its best against the Vikings in the divisional round and NFC Championship Game:
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was solid throughout the regular season but only needed to throw the ball eight times for 77 yards in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers offense is threatening because of tight end George Kittle. The 26-year-old was the team's only 1,000-yard receiver and also led the way with five touchdown catches.
Kittle impacted the running game against Green Bay, though he did not record his only catch until midway through the fourth:
The Niners will need Mostert to repeat his title-game performance and for Kittle to be involved in the passing game to keep pace with the Chiefs' high-flying attack in what seems likely to be a shootout of a Super Bowl.