Super Bowl LVIII: The Ultimate Guide
From Taylor to tactics, everything you need to know for the big game.
The popular saying is, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” That chestnut, though, doesn’t apply to Super Bowl LVIII, which is shaping up to be a memorable sporting event witnessed by a potential 70 million viewers.
Not only will the two best teams compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. EST matchup at Allegiant Stadium between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs promises everything that Sin City has to offer:
High Stakes: The 49ers are playing in their eighth Super Bowl in search of their sixth championship, while the Chiefs are seeking their fourth title in six trips and third in the last five years. Kansas City is also trying to be the first team to win back-to-back championships since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. The Chiefs defeated the 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV.
Headliners: Stars abound in this game. The Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, at age 28, is the youngest signal caller to start his fourth Super Bowl. He already has two championships. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce — Taylor Swift’s boyfriend — is one of the best tight ends in the league, as is 49ers tight end George Kittle. San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey is the National Football League Offensive Player of the Year after compiling a league-leading 1,459 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
Chiefs rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice has emerged as a reliable threat, while 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel is explosive and a perennial touchdown threat. Look for Kansas City defensive end Chris Jones (10 and a half sacks) to be a problem for the 49ers, while linebacker Fred Warner anchors the Niners defense.
Beating the odds: Statistics and common sense suggest that the 49ers need to play with a lead and run the ball if they’re going to beat the Chiefs. The 49ers are 12-1 when Mr. McCaffrey rushes for 75 yards or more in a game, and the 49ers were last in the league in passing attempts per game. If San Francisco can get the lead and establish a running game, they will limit the time of possession for Mr. Mahomes. The problem for San Francisco is that the Chiefs have kept their opponents under 21 points in seven of their last eight games.
Masters of Illusion: Expect some trickery. The Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid, is known to conjure some trickery for these big games, from spinning huddles to unconventional formations and touchdown passes to eligible linemen. The 49ers love to use a flea-flicker play to Mr. Kittle. “There’s going to be times we’ll see looks we haven’t seen before,” Mr. Warner said. “We have to be ready.”
Rags to Riches: Those heading to Vegas to seek fame and fortune can identify with 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. The last player taken in the 2022 draft — he was the 262nd pick overall — overcame serious off-season elbow surgery to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
Mr. Purdy has completed 43 of 70 passes for 519 yards and two touchdowns with one interception during the postseason. “This is what you work for,” he said. “All the strain and stress is to get to this moment to play three-and-a-half hours for the championship. Now it comes down to keeping things simple and playing the game how we know to play it.”
Celebrity sightings: Ms. Swift should make it in time from her concert in Japan to cheer on Mr. Kelce. The Chiefs All-Pro tight end, who has caught 23 passes for 262 yards and 3 TDs during the postseason, understands the fascination with his relationship, venturing that the interest derives from “the values we stand for and who we are as people. We love to shine light on others, shine light on people who help us and support us. On top of that, we both have a love for life.”
There are sure to be plenty of other celebrities attending the big game. Las Vegas’s airports are filling up with private planes that must pay a landing fee that ranges between $750 and $3,000.
Music: What’s Vegas without good music? Usher, an R&B legend, headlines the halftime show after appearing as a guest with the Black Eyed Peas in Super Bowl XLV. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Reba McEntire, opens festivities by singing the national anthem. Post Malone will sing “America the Beautiful,” and Andra Day will contribute “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Sports Gambling: Nearly 68 million Americans are expected to wager on Super Bowl LVIII. That would be a 35 percent increase from last year when, Super Bowl LVII was played in Arizona, the first big game to be played in a state where sports gambling is legal. An estimated $23 billion is expected to be wagered on Sunday’s game. The 49ers are a two-and-a-half-point favorite in most sports books with the under-over at 47½. It’s easy to make a case for either team to win. I’ll take the 49ers and the under.
It will all be over, though, in the blink of an eye. “You never know if you’re going to get back to this game,” Mr. Mahomes said. “So you try to maximize your moment and see what you can do in order to make a memory that will last forever.”