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Super Bowl LIV: 5 biggest storylines

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — After months of on-field action and weeks of anticipation, Super Bowl LIV is finally here.

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium with the championship for the NFL's 100th season on the line.

Will the Chiefs' dynamic offense prove too much for the 49ers' dominant defense or will San Francisco manage to slow down Patrick Mahomes? We'll find out soon. Until then, let's take a look at the five biggest storylines heading into Super Bowl LIV:

Crowning achievement

Winning MVP in his first season as a starter a year ago, Mahomes established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in football.

But could the addition of a Super Bowl ring to the Chiefs quarterback's resume make him an all-time great just three years into his NFL career? The answer might surprise you.

Between his rare combination of size, speed, athleticism, arm strength and accuracy, Mahomes is already unlike any quarterback most have ever seen. And his numbers only strengthen his case, as he's completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 9,412 yards, 76 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions in his first 31 regular-season games.

Even with Lamar Jackson poised to win this season's MVP award, most still consider Mahomes to be the league's best quarterback. Winning the Super Bowl at 24-years-old -- which would make him the second-youngest signal-caller to ever win a Lombardi Trophy -- however, would catapult him into another stratosphere in which his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history would be undeniable.

Credit: AP
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)00

Like father, like son

If a Chiefs' Super Bowl victory would serve as a coronation for Mahomes, a 49ers win on Sunday could do the same for Kyle Shanahan.

After a rapid rise up the coaching ranks where he established himself as one of football's best young offensive minds, Shanahan took over as the 49ers head coach in 2017, taking San Francisco from two wins in 2016 to the Super Bowl three years later.

But while a Super Bowl win would undoubtedly solidify the 40-year-old Shanahan's status as one of football's best head coaches, it would also create some history in the process. With his father, Mike Shanahan, having won a pair of Super Bowl rings as the head coach of the Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998, Kyle could make the Shanahans' the first father-son duo to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as head coaches.

Premier position

Perhaps indicative of the evolution of offenses, both the Chiefs and 49ers feature two of the league's top tight ends.

Travis Kelce led Kansas City with 97 receptions for 1,229 yards and 5 touchdowns during the regular season and caught 10 passes for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Chiefs' come-from-behind victory over the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. Meanwhile, George Kittle led San Francisco with 85 catches for 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2019.

In addition to their Pro Bowl tight ends, both teams possess a plethora of weapons, with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins providing speed on the outside for the Chiefs and running backs Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida touting the rock for the 49ers. But Sunday's outcome could come down to which team does a better job of featuring its premier tight end.

Credit: AP
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, left, runs against Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez (50) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Reid the room

While Shanahan may be the up-and-comer, Andry Reid arguably already possesses a Hall of Fame resume.

Still, a Super Bowl title has evaded Reid throughout the first 20 years as a head coach.

After losing to the New England Patriots as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, Sunday will mark Reid's second chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. And if he can do that, he'll erase his status as the winningest coach to not have won a Super Bowl title.

Key matchup

From an X's and O's standpoint, Sunday may be as simple as how the Chiefs' explosive offense fares against the 49ers' dominant defense.

In particular, Kansas City's offensive line is going to have to do an adequate job of protecting Mahomes. If not, the San Francisco front-four -- headlined by Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa -- could give the 2018 MVP the toughest test he's seen in his young career.

If Mahomes can stay upright -- or do enough with his legs to evade pressure -- the Chiefs could have an edge on the outside with their speedy receivers. And if Kansas City can get an early lead, it will only put increased pressure on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to keep pace with the league's most dynamic offense.

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