The best 2024 could give us for Super Bowl LVIII is a rerun. The Kansas City Chiefs marching into a showdown against a defensive juggernaut helmed by a lowly-regarded quarterback is another reminder that time is a flat circle. We even got a Shanahan-McCaffrey revival 25 years after Ed McCaffrey and Mike Shanahan won their final of three Super Bowls together, beginning with their first when Shanahan was a coordinator in San Francisco. Christian McCaffrey is the Eminem of running backs, somehow earning MVP nods at a time when the rest of his position group is being devalued and paving a path forward for the position. But those aren’t even the headliners.
If you’re a netizen who’s been browsing Cam Newton’s podcast catalogs and found yourself nodding at his assessments of game managers and gamechangers, this Super Bowl presents you with an immaculate narrative to chug for the next week. For pro-Cam portions of the hate-watching community, Purdy is simply doing a slick imitation of 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo. In reality, Purdy is the only quarterback in this Super Bowl who tapped into a franchise savior mode in San Fran’s heroic comeback performance against the Lions, while Mahomes only threw one pass in the final 10 minutes of Kansas City’s AFC Championship victory last week.
Whither vintage Patrick Mahomes?
Watching Mahomes is depressing these days. He used to be an adrenaline rush to watch. The younger, more dynamic Mahomes would pirouette out of the pocket, launch the pigskin into hot air balloon altitudes, and pray for the best. He can still do all that stuff, just with a more pronounced dad bod, but Andy Reid has parked the ostentatious Ferrari offense that Mahomes won MVPs helming, and he’s been forced to put his luxury quarterback behind a minivan offense.
The only stalwart from those glory days is Travis Kelce, whose check engine light has been blinking for months. Travis Kelce is making bank in the attention economy, but the overexposure is beginning to wear everyone down. If you watch enough Kelce content, you can still hear him starting every thought with “bro” in your dreams or nightmares. If you think you’ve been inundated with your fill of Kelce storylines in the past year, you haven’t seen anything yet, bro. You thought Mama Kelce was eating up screen time a year ago? Just wait until Jason shows up to Allegiant Stadium hammered and shirtless after an afternoon Vegas pool party, then climbs out of a private suite to demonstrate the efficacy of the Tush Push to equally drunken fans.
If Kansas City wins its third Super Bowl in five years, Kelce-mania may spread. It’s hard to tell what’s been more grating about Chiefs broadcasts this season, between the awkward allusions to Taylor Swift or the incessant griping about the 45 seconds she’s shown on the screen per game. To make matters worse, long after we are all dust and bone particles, half-assed historians will attribute Travis as the father of the buzz cut with tapered sides that’s been a staple of black barbershops for decades, thanks to the New York Times.
If anyone has been KC’s anchor this season, it’s Chris Jones. Kansas City’s roving defensive linemen rushes the edge and stitches up the middle better than almost anyone in football. Yet Kansas City got stingy with his cheddar and played brinkmanship with Jones until he signed a one-year extension on the verge of their regular season kickoff. Kansas City won’t appreciate what it’s got in Jones until he’s lining up opposite them in a new uniform next season.
Maybe a lightly-used Nick Bosa is more your thing?
It’s also an election year, which means the unhinged nature of national politics has permeated into the Kelce-Swift maelstrom. If you’re under the impression that Swift is a Biden 2024 psyops campaign though, Nick Bosa is the player for you. President Rumpelthinskin’s favorite NFL player might have erased his oldest tweets, but the Internet never forgets. If the Niners weren’t prepping for a playoff game in January of 2021, January 6th could have ended radically differently. But that’s the Bosa of four years ago.
It cannot be stressed how average Bosa has been since he earned an extension. Bosa, the backfield infiltrator, has played like he is running on fumes. His pressure rate, sack totals and overall impact has never been worse. Paired with former No. 2 pick Chase Young, the Niners have the widest disparity between production and name recognition in the league. George Kittle is the best tight end in this game if you are assessing matchups based on each team’s most recent 19, 20-game sample size. If he’d played the last decade in an offense catered to him, we might be talking about his Hall of Fame resumes. Unfortunately, Kittle has endured an assembly line of caretaker quarterbacks.
One would be inclined to believe the Niners earned all the quarterback uncertainty they faced in the past two decades by passing up Tom Brady six times. In that time, they’ve run though an assortment of stop gaps ranging from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick, Trey Lance, and Jimmy G. They also passed on Peyton Manning after he underwent neck surgery, but decided they’d rather have Kaepernick and Smith tag team in a Greg Roman offense. In 2017, they selected Solomon Thomas over Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, although they may have dodged a bullet with the latter. Kyle Shanahan also thought he was smarter than everyone else in 2020 when they elected to ride with Jimmy G over Brady again. Nothing would bring the collective NFL universe more joy than watching Shanahan rue the consequences of his errors in judgment once more.
Watching Purdy shrink on the big stage would flood his detractors’ nervous systems with levels of satisfaction they’ve rarely felt throughout their sad lives. Purdy is an inspirational figure. His ascension from Mr. Irrelevant to surprise starter and Super Bowl quarterback has been a unique journey.
Unlike Jimmy GQ, Purdy doesn’t make it any easier to avoid being underestimated by naturally resembling a doppelganger for Prime Pete Buttigieg. But when he’s under center he’s kept the Niners humming along like an Acela train. Ok, that’s the only Department of Transportation quip I have in my repertoire. Mahomes can’t afford to be outdueled here. It’s one thing to lose to a graying Tom Brady, but his GOAT campaign may never recover if Purdy bests him.
If there’s any justice though, Kyle Shanahan loses another Super Bowl squeaker when Patrick Mahomes Supermans Kansas City to another come-from-behind victory, Kelce pops the question on the field and ultimately we all purge this postseason from our memories.
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