Analysis Opinion

Superbowl LIV: Ranking the top 15 players

The 2019 season is coming to an end and there are only two teams still standing: The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. After watching last year’s Super Bowl between the Rams and the Patriots and thinking how boring it was, this one should make up for it. This game will feature the fierce running attack of the 49ers and the high-flying passing attack of the Chiefs. There are standout players at almost every position for both teams. These players will most likely be major contributors to the outcome of the game, but which players will make the most impact? I have ranked the top 15 players that will be playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

15) DeForest Buckner – DT 49ers

Buckner tallied up 7.5 sacks in the regular season this year for the 49ers, which is 4.5 less than he had in his 2018 campaign. That isn’t too surprising since he has more competition for sacks on the defensive line. Buckner is also a stout defender against the run and including the playoffs has five fumble recoveries. He tends to get lost in the shuffle with everyone else on that line, but if he isn’t accounted for, he could ruin any game for opposing quarterbacks.

14) Sammy Watkins – WR Chiefs

When most people talk about Sammy Watkins the thought comes to mind that he isn’t worth the contract that he signed with the Chiefs. That is not the case in the playoffs. In the AFC Championship game, Watkins had 7 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. In playoff games for the Chiefs, he is averaging almost 20 yards a reception and over 90 plus yards per game. It does make sense though why Sammy would be cleaning up. Most of the focus goes to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, which leaves the mismatch for Watkins. He could be a top receiving option for most teams but on KC’s offense, he’s third at best. And that usually leaves him matched up with the third-best defensive back.

13) Jimmy Garoppolo – QB 49ers

The 49ers quarterback hasn’t been asked to do a lot in the playoffs, especially since his ground attack has been so stellar. However, Jimmy G put up some pretty great performances during the regular season. He went toe-for-toe with Drew Brees and beat him, putting up 349 yards and four touchdowns. He had a 400-yard game against the Cardinals, as well. Garoppolo can take a game over if he has to, but he has had some trouble with turnovers when trying to push the ball over the middle of the field.

12) Raheem Mostert – RB 49ers

The reason Garoppolo hasn’t had to do much in the playoffs is due to the 49ers excellent running game, mostly Raheem Mostert. Mostert is coming off the greatest game of his four-year career with 220 yards rushing on 29 attempts. He slashed through Green Bay’s defense for four touchdowns. That was only the second time he has rushed for over 100 yards this season, however. So it will remain to be seen whether Mostert is becoming a known commodity or just a flash in the pan.

11)   Mitchell Schwartz – T Chiefs

Schwartz is probably the best right tackle in the NFL right now. According to Pro Football Focus, in 90 snaps taken during this year’s playoffs, he has allowed only one quarterback pressure. Schwartz is also the second highest graded offensive lineman in the postseason ever. That’s phenomenal. And that kind of effort is going to be needed going against the pass rushers for the 49ers.

10) Nick Bosa – DE 49ers

Nick Bosa was the 2nd overall pick by the 49ers this season and you would think that a rookie wouldn’t be able to make an impact so quickly, but nobody told that to Bosa. He registered nine sacks in the regular season and has three so far in the playoffs. He has also been a staple in the team’s run defense. He has already made a name for himself as one of the cornerstones on this 49er defensive line.

9) Frank Clark – DE Chiefs

Frank Clark played the first part of this season with a pinched nerve in his neck which attributed to his slow start to the season. However, since recovering from the injury, Clark has been one of the best defensive players in the league. In his last 10 games, he has recorded 11 sacks, including the game sealer in the AFC Championship game. If there was ever an award for talking smack and then backing it up, it would go to Frank Clark as he was confident that the Chiefs would shut down Titans running back Derrick Henry and they did.

8) Tryann Mathieu – S Chiefs

The Honey Badger can play anywhere in the secondary. The Chiefs can use him as a free safety, slot corner, or down in the box. He can cover wide receivers and tight ends or lay the wood on anyone going out in the flat. Mathieu is one of those guys that always knows where the ball is and always finds himself near it. According to Next Gen Stats, he has also allowed the fewest yards per target in coverage this season with 5.3 yards.

7) Arik Armstead – DE 49ers

Arik Armstead, like Bosa and Buckner, is another 49er defensive lineman that can easily create havoc for opposing quarterbacks. He had 10 sacks in the regular season and added two more in the playoffs. With how good he has been rushing the passer, he is even better at stopping the run. According to Pro Football Focus, Armstead has a run-defense grade of 88.5 for the season, which may come in handy if Mahomes tries to create with his feet as he did against the Titans.

6) Tyreek Hill – WR Chiefs

There isn’t a faster human in the league than Tyreek Hill. Andy Reid finds multiple ways to get the ball in Hill’s hands because he knows that once he has the ball, he can house it at any time. According to Next Gen Stats, Tyreek Hill has reached 20 + mph 24 times as a ball carrier, which is the most and is 10 more than the next closest player. Hill has also increased his skills as a route runner to help when defenders cover him over the top.

5) Chris Jones – DT Chiefs

Chris Jones has proven to be one of the league’s best interior lineman and according to Pro Football Focus, he is only behind Aaron Donald when it comes to pass rush win rate and pressure rate. But he is also a huge factor in stopping the run, something that should be a focal point for the Chiefs going into the Super Bowl. Jones wasn’t 100 percent when the Chiefs played the Titans, but with two weeks to recover, hopefully he can get back to his old dominating self.

4) Richard Sherman – CB 49ers

Including the playoffs, Richard Sherman has allowed 29 completions for 301 yards this season. That is the best out of all other cornerbacks. He is 31 and had an Achilles injury two seasons ago. It is truly amazing that he can still produce at such a high level and he will be tested once again when he faces off against Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce. However, he does have a pick in both playoff games this year.

3) George Kittle – TE 49ers

George Kittle has come on for the 49ers in a huge way over the past two seasons. Currently, he leads the league in yards after the catch and has added 5 touchdowns to those yards. He is even more valuable as a blocker. He can create holes in the defense just like an offensive lineman, which has been a huge reason for the success of the 49ers running game. He is truly one of the more complete tight ends in the NFL.

2) Travis Kelce – TE Chiefs

The big debate for the past two weeks has been Kittle vs. Kelce and the Kittle supporters always go to one thing: Blocking. Well, first of all, it’s not like Kelce doesn’t block. He does and he’s pretty good at it, but when the Chiefs throw the ball at a high percentage and a lot of those throws are intended for Kelce, he can’t really be out there blocking. Kittle has only 4 passes in the playoffs with no touchdowns. Travis Kelce has 13 receptions in the playoffs and three touchdowns. Blocking is great and all but give me touchdowns and a guy that can eat up the soft part of the zone for 60 minutes.

1) Patrick Mahomes – QB Chiefs

Duh. Was there ever any doubt? I question any list that doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes at the top of it. With his no-look passes and his crazy scrambles, Mahomes is the reason that the Chiefs are in the Superbowl. This year in two playoff games, he has 9 total touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and over 600 yards passing. Mahomes is Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded postseason player ever. He has only lost nine total games in two years including the playoffs, he was last year’s MVP and hoisted the Lamar Hunt Trophy this year. Is there really any doubt that he won’t hoist the Lombardi trophy on Sunday?

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