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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

49ers, Chiefs matchup expected to be close game

Illustration+Rachel+Choi
Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

On Sunday, Feb. 11, the San Francisco 49ers look to avenge their Super Bowl LIV loss and emerge victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs—reversing the outcome from 2020. 

Despite the Chiefs entering the final game of the season as defending champs, the two teams are pretty evenly matched. Kansas City went 11-6 this season while San Francisco put up a record of 12-5. 

The Chiefs struggled near the end of the 2023 calendar year, but have gotten better postseason, going 4-0 since then. Kansas City has been the best playoff team in the NFL in recent years, dominating the AFC beginning in 2016.

The 49ers started quarterback Brock Purdy this season, 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant aka the final pick in the NFL draft. Purdy played in only five regular season games his rookie year but won all of them, taking over the starting job as a third-string quarterback following injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. He helped secure a division title in 2022 and 2023 and set the franchise’s single-season passing yards record.

This year, the 49ers hope to even the score after their Super Bowl LIV 20-31 fall to the Chiefs in 2020. Kansas City is hungry for a win as well, aiming for back-to-back titles, which would be the first since Tom Brady led the Patriots to successive rings in 2003-4.

As a Baltimore native, I’ll be rooting for the 49ers to take down the Chiefs since Kansas City defeated the Ravens in the conference championship. However, I worry the Chiefs might pull ahead as it seems they turned up the energy in the postseason, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce dominating the past few games—it will be a fun (and nerve-wracking) game to watch. 

Predictions from sports analysts and experts point to a Super Bowl that’s tough to call. 

“Right now, I’m leaning toward the 49ers winning this Super Bowl because when you look at it, you’ve got to say, ‘San Fran has gotten better,’” Michael Irvin, three-time Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys said in an interview with UNDISPUTED on Fox Sports.

Both ESPN’s Matchup Predictor and Opta Analysts’s supercomputer project the Californians to win, with 59.4 percent and 64.4 percent chances, respectively. 

However, not everyone agrees with the computer. 

“Ultimately, San Fran settles for too many field goals,” Larry Hartstein, an NFL betting expert on SportsLine’s team, said in an interview with SportsLine, predicting a Chiefs win. 

Apart from these expert predictions, sports betting sites have also listed both teams with similar narratives. SportsLine lists the 49ers as two-point favorites in the spread, which is less than a field goal worth of points they are projected to win by, so even these sites think the game will be a toss-up. 

They are also -129 moneyline favorites, while the Chiefs sit as +109 underdogs. Moneyline is a pretty straightforward bet on who will win—the negative number shows how much money must be risked to win $100 whereas the positive number shows how much would be gained on a $100 bet.

The over/under for the game sits at 47.5, meaning the predicted combined score of both teams will be 47.5, giving users the choice to bet for whether the final tally will be over or under that number.

Sports betting sites also have non-football related bets such as how long the national anthem will be and what Usher’s opening song will be for the halftime show (I’m hoping for “Yeah!” or “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”), but this year specifically sites are exploding with Taylor Swift–related bets. 

Swift increased viewership this season for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL as a whole after going public with her relationship with Kelce. The prop bets regarding her include over/under how many times she will appear on screen, how many times her name will be mentioned on the broadcast, and even whether or not she’ll join Usher on stage during halftime.

The Ravens/Chiefs AFC Championship game featured less Swift coverage than previous games, with cameras focusing on her after Kelce’s touchdown catch in the first quarter and after the Chiefs put up more points in the second quarter. While promoting the Grammys, the cameras honed back in on Swift and fans believe she told the cameras to stop showing her.

If I were into sports betting, I’d put my money on at least a handful of on-screen appearances for Swift and plenty of broadcast mentions, if she makes it to the game after her concert in Tokyo the day before. However, I don’t think I would risk losing any money by betting on the winner of the actual football game, seeing as it seems to be almost a 50/50 shot for who will prevail.

Last year’s Super Bowl was the most watched football game of all time, and like it or not Taylor Swift could push 2024’s championship over even that.

Kickoff for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium is 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST. American viewers can watch the game on CBS or Paramount+.

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About the Contributor
Anna Knepley, Assistant Sports Editor
Anna Knepley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She currently serves as the assistant sports editor. Outside of the Beacon, she can be found hanging out with friends, exploring the city and writing for the CPLA newsletter. 

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