Who will celebrate a Super Bowl win in Miami on Sunday night?
Anniversaries are the story of the day when it comes to Super Bowl LIV — that’s 54 to those of us who don’t live in Rome.
For the first time in a decade, the big game is back in Miami (technically, near Miami), which is tied for its largest gap in time between Super Bowls. That’s a bit surprising considering how much the NFL loves warm-weather sites, but to the league’s credit, it is trying different locations, which is nice to see.
The last time this game was in south Florida, the Bountygate-riddled Saints won their first title. It’s also where Peyton Manning hoisted his first Lombardi Trophy, where John Elway ended his career with a win, and Joe Namath made his famous guarantee.
The other big anniversary is a 50-year one. That’s how long it’s been since the Kansas City Chiefs played in the Super Bowl.
Just to give you an idea of how big that time span is, the NFL’s American Football Conference was still the separate but ready-to-merge American Football League back in January 1970, with the championship played between the leagues.
The Chiefs have had lots of chances to get back there and win another one, but over the course of those five decades, KC built a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs, most famously in the 1995-96 divisional round against Indianapolis and the 1997-98 divisional round against rival Denver.
KC also blew a 38-10 second-half lead to the Colts in 2013-14 in the wild card round, which was probably even more devastating than the two upsets.
It almost looked like the Chiefs would come up short of the big game this year, digging themselves an early 24-0 hole against Houston and 10-0 deficit to Tennessee. But thanks to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and its potent offense, KC rallied past both teams to get to Florida. So maybe the demons have been exorcised in Missouri.
On the other side, there’s San Francisco. There’s no anniversary for the 49ers, but this will be their third trip to Miami and they’ve won the previous two. The Niners roll into Florida on the strength of their ferocious defense, which stifled Minnesota in the second half in the divisional round and humiliated Green Bay in the NFC championship game.
Sorry Packers fans, but you have to admit, it was bad. SF is notoriously good in the Super Bowl, winning five times and its only loss came in the famous “Blackout Bowl” when the power was out for a half-hour in Baltimore’s 34-31 win in 2013.
Even in defeat, the Niners went down swinging, rallying to pull within two of the Ravens in the fourth quarter and almost taking the lead in the final two minutes. So yeah, if you’re gonna beat SF in the Super Bowl, you’ll need to hang on for dear life.
That’s the background, but let’s be honest, as much fun as the game is, what’s even more fun is the bets that come with it. I’ve been pretty successful with my predictions the last few years, so feel free to take my advice. Just don’t get mad or send me angry emails if you lose money on picks.
Here’s a look at some interesting ones:
Will Demi Lovato sing the anthem in under two minutes? Yep. She’s got a good voice, but she rarely milks time to show it off. She’s only gone over the mark once, so it seems a safe bet.
How will the first points be scored? Seeing how KC has had to play from behind the previous two games, odds are the Niners score first and I’m saying a field goal by Robbie Gould on their second possession of the game.
Will there be a missed field goal? The game is in Miami, so I’m going with yes. There has been at least one missed field goal in every Super Bowl played at Hard Rock Stadium (or its other names) since it opened in 1987. Not sure who will shank one, but odds are one of them will at some point.
What’s the score at halftime? First halves are typically low-scoring (remember last year’s snoozefest?) as teams take a bit to figure things out and find where weaknesses are. I think KC takes the lead in the second quarter (just look at its last two games) and has a 17-10 advantage at the half.
What major song will Jennifer Lopez and Shakira perform? Halftime will be headlined by two popular Latina singers, appropriate for a game in Miami.
Shakira’s highlights will probably be her most well-known song “Whenever, Wherever” and “Try Everything,” the main song from the movie “Zootopia.”
Lopez has more mainstream hits, so hers will be more recognizable. I’m guessing she opens with “Let’s Get Loud” because it’s her biggest pump-up song. She’ll then mix in “Jenny from the Block” and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” for some easy listening. I’d like it if she added “On the Floor” because it’s my favorite, but she’d need Pitbull to perform it with her.
Seeing how he’s from Miami, he’s reportedly slated to show up. If he does, that’ll close out the show. If he doesn’t appear, I’ll go with “Waiting for Tonight.”
Will there be a safety or non-offensive touchdown? Yes to the former. I think that’s the first points KC gets in the second half as Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be sacked in his own end zone. I’m going no to the latter as I don’t see either quarterback throwing a pick-six and although I do see fumbles potentially happening, I don’t see them getting returned for a TD.
What color will the Gatorade be that gets dumped on the winning coach? This is usually the hardest prop bet because there’s so many flavors and colors. However, red is the main color for both teams and that’s what my wife thinks it will be. So I’ll go with her prediction and say red.
Who wins the game and who is MVP? Now we’ve come to the biggest question. Will KC’s high-powered offense lead to its second Lombardi Trophy, or will the Niners’ defense lock down the Chiefs and bring SF its sixth championship?
It’s been said that defense wins championships, so that favors the Niners. However, there’s just something about the Chiefs. The fact that it managed to pull off a huge comeback against the Texans and overcome a 10-point deficit in the AFC championship against the Titans shows that KC is a team that just finds a way to win.
I think the Chiefs fall behind early in the fourth, but Mahomes rallies them back and they get the game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes, with the star QB getting MVP honors.
Like I said, it’s all about anniversaries when it comes to Super Bowl LIV and the Chiefs will have the perfect way to remember their 1970 title — a second one in 2020.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.