Super Bowl LVII: New Arrivals or Familiar Faces?


Jonathan Levy and Jayden Ko

Following a year of wild regular season and wild card round surprises, we’ve arrived at a rather unsurprising conference championship stage. In the AFC, the high-powered offenses of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals will face off in a repeat of last year’s conference championship. In the NFC, the up-and-coming Philadelphia Eagles will face off against the rookie-led San Francisco 49ers. Although we certainly expected all these teams to make a deep playoff run, their immense talent will undoubtedly make for two entertaining and unpredictable playoff matchups. 


Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs:

On the AFC side of the NFL, we will sit in anticipation as Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals pay a visit to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Although many view the Chiefs as the better team of the two and the likely favorite going into Sunday, it’s impossible to ignore these teams’ previous matchups. Although the games have been close, Cincinnati has defeated Kansas City in three consecutive matchups—all within the last two seasons. 

With that being said, the Bengals look more prepared than ever to conquer the Chiefs once more. Despite some shaky play against the Baltimore Ravens earlier in the playoffs, the Bengals’ domination of a highly-touted Bills team in the divisional round is a menacing sign for Chiefs fans. With Burrow and his entire receiving core healthy, the only problem that remains glaring on the Bengals’ offense is the offensive

Bengals QB Joe Burrow

line. However, although no one can guarantee a repeat performance of last week, it’s worth noting that a banged-up Bengals offensive line allowed just one sack against the Bills’ impressive pass rush. Not to mention, the Bengals defense held Bills QB Josh Allen to zero touchdowns, one interception, and a completion percentage under 60% as well. While again, one playoff performance ultimately guarantees nothing about the next, the Bengals have won ten in a row and seem to be playing their best football at the right time of the season. 

As for Kansas City, they’ve been just as dominant all season as expected. Even after losing Tyreek Hill, QB Patrick Mahomes has proved that he has no problem continuing to embarrass opposing defenses. Consistently connecting with TE Travis Kelce, RB Jerrick McKinnon, and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster all year, Mahomes remains the most dynamic QB in the league and is the favorite to win the MVP award. Plus, an especially strong season from DE Chris Jones and the addition of rookie DE George Karlaftis have elevated Kansas City’s defense. However, there’s one major factor that may limit the Chiefs next week. Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury, even if improved by next week, will certainly be a bother for the Chiefs on offense. With Mahomes occasionally struggling to play through his injury against Jacksonville last week, the Chiefs barely escaped the Jaguars as they only won by seven. 


Final Prediction: Bengals 34, Chiefs 28—An injury-riddled Mahomes plays well but cannot keep up with a healthy Bengals offense.


San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

On the NFC side, the San Francisco 49ers, off 12 consecutive wins, travel to Philadelphia to battle the 14-win Eagles for a trip to the Super Bowl. The most surprising development for the 49ers has been the stellar play of their rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, or “Mr. Irrelevant.” Having started for just six games following the unexpected injury of starting quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo, Purdy has captivated the 49ers fan base and will become just the fifth-ever rookie QB to start in a conference championship matchup. Over his last six starts, he has boasted a passer rating of 116.0, the best of any quarterback in the league. His rise to fame was meteoric, rising from the 262nd pick of the NFL draft and, at one point, a third-string quarterback. With explosive players such as WR Deebo Samuel, RB Christian McCaffrey, and TE George Kittle, the 49ers offense will head into Sunday with confidence. Though Samuel and McCaffrey have been nursing injuries, they are still expected to play. 

49ers QB Brock Purdy

Regardless of how well the 49ers offense has been playing, they face a formidable Eagles defense. With 75 sacks in the regular season, the third-most in NFL history for a single-season, and pro-bowl selections such as Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, and James Bradberry, the Eagles

will certainly test Purdy’s limit. The Eagles were the only team with a sack rate of over 10% and had a pressure rate of 38%, the second highest in the league. It’s important to note that the 49ers struggled to score against the Cowboys’ defense last week, in which they won the relatively low-scoring game 19-12. This Sunday against the Eagles, they face an even stronger and more talented defense.

While the Eagles will seek to take advantage of Purdy’s inexperience, likely doubling down on their pass rush, their offense will look to continue their momentum from last week. With versatile QB and MVP candidate Jalen Hurts and a dominant offensive line, the Eagles steamrolled the Giants defense last Sunday in the Divisional Championship. With offensive weapons like WR A.J. Brown and TE Dallas Goedert coming off their best regular season performances, the 49ers defense will face a serious challenge. With two of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league, it’s difficult to say whether it will be a high-scoring or low-scoring game. Regardless, it will most definitely be an entertaining one.


Final Prediction: Eagles 27, 49ers 21—An aggressive Eagles pass rush will win the battle against the Purdy-led 49ers offense.