Here it is the big day and the last game of the season, plenty to write about, but there is the final round of trivia to go through first.
Dan’s Dad asked us:
‘First stop this week are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tell me:
The Bucs played in only one tie game in the 20th century. Who was it against?
Moving onto the Tennessee Titans so tell me:
Which player started at quarterback for the first game of the 2005 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh
At last we get into DC and for the Washington Redskins tell me:
The Washington Redskin franchise began in 1932 in the NFL. What was the team’s name in that season?
Trawling for questions throws up some interesting info and with the closing question for the season, which I predict will be got by both, is
Which famous football czar ended his career in Washington as coach?’
This is a mixed bag of questions for questions, some of which I think I might know and some that are a real shot in the dark, with the majority being the latter.
We’ll start with the opening question that very much falls into the shot in the dark category, but I am going to plump for on NFC team on the grounds as they play them more and going with Atlanta Falcons as a divisional opponent who have been around long enough to up the chances by having more games.
As for the Titans’ quarterback, my first thought was Vince Young, but I think that 2005 is a bit early so I’m going to plump for the only other Titans quarterback that I can think of from around this period and hope 3D isn’t living up to his nickname – that quarterback, Steve McNair
I have really struggled with the early franchise names and this is no exception. I have no memory or knowledge of a previous pace for Washington and it seems baffling that they changed to a name that many find offensive so I don’t know what they could have had before or if they were even in Washington. I’m going to have to try a total guess so how about the Washington Presidents? I’m sure it’s not that but I genuinely have no cluse.
This problem had me stumped the most, particularly with the whole football czar angle until I had slept on the question and instead of trying to pick out some complex link to a modern coach that I couldn’t work out, I had what I hope is a flash of inspiration. As I have very much discovered this season, my knowledge of NFL history is somewhat patchy, but for all that Vince Lombardi is forever associated with Green Bay, I think I remember listening to a podcast on him and unless I’m completely misremembering his final year of coaching was with Washington. I think…. Well that’s it, I can’t do any more this season so over to Dan:
‘Final week then, it’s all down to this! After having amassed a 3-point lead, I could grumble about this week being 4 points per question, but I shall resist! Couple of guesses, couple I know this week.
I’ve got a feeling that Tampa’s tie was this season and I think it was against the Lions – probably wrong but I’ll go with that.
For Tennessee, I’m slightly hesitant as I’m not sure if this guy was still there by 2005 but I’ll go with Steve McNair as I know he was in Tennessee for years and would have been roughly around this time.
The former name of the Redskins I have no idea of, so I’ll guess at the DC Defenders, and forfeit that question!
And finally for the bonus question, my first thought was John Madden, but Im fairly sure he retired as a Raider (or at least was there for years) and then the timing hit me – I’ll go with the trophy namesake, Vince Lombardi!
Enjoy the Bowl!’
Kansas City Chiefs Vs San Francisco 49ers
This is game has the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls we have had in a while, with a couple of outstanding play-calling coaches whose offences will have different approaches but are no less effective so let’s take look at the match-ups before I take a swing at how this game might go.
I’ll start with what is going to be the strength on strength match-up when the Chiefs have the ball. The Chiefs finished the regular season with the third ranked offence by DVOA but that doesn’t tell the whole story as Patrick Mahomes missed a pair of games after he dislocated his knee cap and it took several more weeks after his return to look like last season’s all conquering MVP. However, whilst he couldn’t match last years numbers the Chiefs finished the season winning six straight games and rolled right into the playoffs. There is a compelling argument for Mahomes to be the best quarterback in the league right now and with the speed that the Chiefs have at receiver this makes them one of the fastest strike offences in the league. If the combination of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and rookie Mecole Hardman at receiver were not scary enough, the Chiefs also have one of the premiere pass catching tight-ends in Travis Kelce who actually led the team in receiving yards like this. Andy Reid has always liked his offence to throw the ball, and the devastating speed is how the Chiefs can be twenty-four points down in the second quarter of a playoff game and go into half time leading,
However, the 49ers had the second ranked defence in the league by DVOA in the regular season and will hope that they can stifle the Chiefs’ devastating speed with their four man pass rush and quality coverage. A lot of the pass rush plaudits have gone to rookie Nick Bosa, but they have five first round picks in their defensive line rotation and it is Arik Armstead who led the team in sacks. However, one of the important things in this game will be the defensive line’s ability to rush in a coordinated manner as apart from his remarkable ability throwing the ball, Patrick Mahomes is also a capable rusher as he demonstrated against the Titans with over fifty yards of rushing. If the 49ers hope to win with coverage, that will be tested by both the Chiefs’ team speed but also their pre-snap motion and the myriad ways of that Andy Reid likes to attack a defence. There will be screens a plenty the 49ers will be hoping to keep the Chiefs in front of them and have them consistently maintain long drives.
When the 49ers have the ball they will build of their running game, which they have lent on heavily in the post-season. One of the narratives of the build up as has been that the 49ers have lost faith in Jimmy Garoppolo, but the team have vehemently denied that in the build up this week and my mind can’t help but go back to the week fourteen game against the Saints where Garoppolo threw for nearly three hundred and fifty yards and four touchdowns. I suspect the 49ers will be hoping to run the ball and control the clock to an extent, but they will be aware of how the Chiefs sold out to stop the run against the Titans in the previous round and so there will be more passing in this game. The 49ers have their own quality receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Deebo Samuel, but whilst Kelce is one of the best pass-catching tight-ends in the league, this season George Kittle has established himself as one of the best all round tight-ends in the game who loves blocking as much as catching the ball and refusing to be tackled. I expect the 49ers to be a more balanced offence than the Chiefs, but with the speed the 49ers have at running back the are capable of deep strikes on the ground they will be hoping the mixture of outside zones and power running will still be effective against a defence that is likely to be setup to stop them running.
The Chiefs’ defence may only rank fourteenth in the league, but that is a twelve place improvement on where they ranked last year and with an offence as potent as Chiefs, they don’t need to be top ten for them to win the game. The concern is that their rush defence only ranks twenty-sixth so if they are to contain the run they may have to commit eight players to stop the run leaving the secondary exposed. In Tyrann Mathieu the Chiefs picked up a versatile safety who will be important in getting the defence lined up and it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs try to cope with the 49ers varied attack.
We have known for years that Andy Reid is an excellent coach, his teams are always competitive and the results of pairing him with a truly elite quarterback have been impressive. There have been questions about his clock management but this looks to be as good a team as he has ever had. This is not Reid’s first Super Bowl and there has been plenty of talk about this being his chance to secure a Hall of Fame slot. If Mahomes can stay healthy then there could well be more, but people thought that about Dan Marino and he famously never made it back to the Super Bowl so we can’t take it for granted. If Andy Reid has scars from his previous Super Bowl appearance then so does Kyle Shanahan who was the offensive coordinators for the Atlanta Falcons when they suffered the incredible turn around from the New England Patriots. This game pits two of the best offensive minds in the game against each other, and as good as Reid is coming off a bye you can argue that the 49ers have the better overall team.
I’ve heard the arguments for both teams, with the 49ers being tipped as the better overall team and others unwilling to pick against Parick Mahomes. I wouldn’t want to pick this game. I have seen Garoppolo keep his team in a shoot out with the Saints and win, but we should not forget the skills players that Mahomes have to work with. If the 49ers defence gets on top it could be a dour game but I think the most likely outcome is a relatively high scoring game and I have a feeling that the winner will be whichever team has the ball at the end. So much could happen, but I feel like this could be a truly exceptional game. There are no guarantees, but I think this last game of the 2019 season could for once live up to the hype, and I can’t think of a better way to finish the season.
Let’s settle in for the big one – as Super Bown LIV is here.
DVOA is Football Outsiders’ statistic to measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.