At this point, every major storyline has been covered ahead of Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. That is what happens when there are no real games for two weeks ahead of the most-watched American event of the entire year.
Everyone knows about the injuries, QB matchups, and every other major storyline, but what about the minor storylines that aren’t being talked about? Often, the games aren’t decided by the obvious statistics or players but by the small details.
Here are three under-the-radar stories to watch out for.
1. Will Shanahan Keep His Composure During the 4th Quarter?
Kyle Shanahan has coached in two Super Bowls, first as an offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 and later as a Head Coach for the 49ers. In these two games, Shanahan had his offenses outscored 46-0. Considering that most teams score on average 6.5 points per 4th quarter, giving up 23 on average is awful. Additionally, it is also concerning that his teams haven’t scored in either 4th quarter.
The good news is that the Chiefs are one of the worst 4th quarter teams in the NFL, scoring less than four points per game. It’s tough to find a static that the Chiefs struggle in, but one is 4th quarter-scoring. If the 49ers have a lead going into the 4th quarter, this will be a very interesting storyline to watch.
2. What Happens on 4th Down?
Neither of these teams tends to go for it on 4th down. The 49ers finished last in the NFL in 4th down conversion attempts per game with only 0.7. The Chiefs weren’t much more risky, with only 1.2 attempts (tied for 24th in the league).
This may come as surprising since both teams have mobile quarterbacks that would seem to be a threat on 4th down. In the Playoffs, teams tend to be a bit more aggressive, so both teams may attempt to go for it more than once in this game. If they do, watch for the team that converts at a higher rate to win the game.
It will also be interesting to see if either of them attempts to set up a 4th down play on 3rd down. Lately, it has become a common trend to try to gain a good amount of yards on 3rd down, in order to set up a 4th down attempt. However, both of these teams have opted for an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to 3rd and long plays.
Who Wins the Kansas City Chiefs Trick Plays?
Andy Reid loves a good trick play. It isn’t a question of if the Chiefs will run trick plays, it’s more of a question of when and how many. Trick plays are high-stakes, high-reward moments in a game that can give the kind of momentum to a game similar to getting a turnover.
The 49ers have a very good defense and are unlikely to be distracted by some of the window dressing that the Chiefs like to give pre-snap, but how they’ll do once the ball is snapped is anyone’s guess. If the defense holds, watch for it to potentially be the kind of game-changing moment that an interception or fumble recovery would cause. If they don’t watch for the opposite to happen, but for the Chiefs.
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