It’s finally here. After a chaotic week of build up in Las Vegas the stage is set for Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium.
Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers are ready to go to battle in the NFL’s biggest game.
Vegas has been awash with big-spending celebrities, hundreds of thousands of fans and football festivities all week but we are now just hours away from kickoff.
Taylor Swift will also be in position. The popstar has successfully made it across the globe from Tokyo to Los Angeles and will now head to Las Vegas in time to cheer on boyfriend Travis Kelce for the 13th and final time this season.
Just four years after Kelce and the Chiefs beat the 49ers to win Super Bowl LIV in Miami, the NFL’s two best teams have made it back to the big one and it promises to be a thrilling ride.
After a chaotic week in Las Vegas, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers play tonight
Allegiant Stadium will play host to the Super Bowl with around 65,000 fans in attendance
Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift will reunite in Las Vegas after the singer’s shows in Tokyo
So, is this the biggest Super Bowl of all time?
There’s no doubting Swift and Kelce’s relationship has brought millions of eyeballs to football that wouldn’t be watching otherwise.
An average of 16.9 million viewers tuned in to watch Swift win another album of the year award at the Grammys last week but the NFL is expected a staggering 200 million people to tune into the Super Bowl across the globe.
Last season’s finale between the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles – which featured Jason Kelce but not Swift – attracted 169 million globally. Her impact is clear to see.
The couple’s influence has become so powerful that some have baselessly accused them of being key assets in a secret plot to help President Joe Biden get reelected in 2024.
Even as she’s been in Japan touring, questions about the singer and tight end have dominated every single day of media activity. Players have even been asked to sing her songs.
Couple her attendance with the fact that it will all unfold with the bright lights of Las Vegas as its backdrop and never has the pre-game anticipation been more tangible.
Their relationship has brought a new audience to the NFL with a huge TV audience expected
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy and Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes will battle for supremacy
Of course, there’s the glitz and glamour of playing in America’s entertainment hub and the irony of playing a Super Bowl in a gambling capital, an idea that used to be taboo for the NFL.
Nearly 68 million American adults – about one in four – plan to bet on the game, a new record by a wide margin. Bettors plan to wager an estimated $23.1 billion on this year’s Super Bowl, up from $16bn last year, it’s been predicted.
Vegas has pulled out all the stops all week. Elvis Presley impersonators and showgirls, both Vegas stalwarts, welcomed the Chiefs and 49ers when they arrived.
A towering replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy has been floating in the Bellagio fountains and mock field goal posts have stood next to pedestrian bridges on the Strip.
Parking spots for private jets in and around Las Vegas have all been spoken for, while game tickets have topped $12,000 apiece and are still climbing. That’s before you consider suites at Allegiant Stadium are even too expensive for Donna Kelce, she claims.
As of Tuesday, the average weekend room rate at some casinos, including the Aria and Bellagio, had surpassed $1,400 a night for Friday through Sunday. And all 37,000 rooms at 12 MGM Resorts International properties were sold out for Saturday night.
Las Vegas has fully embraced the Super Bowl, with Elvis impersonators greeting both teams
The iconic Las Vegas strip has been transformed into a Super Bowl hub for fans this week
Vegas is full to the brim and it appears we’ve got a game than can match even the loftiest of expectations.
The underdog Chiefs can secure a third Super Bowl win in five seasons and cement themselves as the NFL’s great new dynasty, a title that has been vacated by the New England Patriots since Tom Brady left.
The 49ers are chasing their franchise’s sixth championship and attempting to end 20 years of hurt. If they can get the job done, they will join the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers as the only franchises with six titles.
Two years ago, the idea that 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy would be in this position would have been ridiculous. Written off as Mr. Irrelevant in 2022, he has enjoyed a spectacular rise and winning the ultimate prize this early in his career would be remarkable.
It would also cap off a fitting redemption story that started with him injuring his elbow in the NFC Championship game last season as the 49ers were beaten in Philadelphia.
The 24-year-old is an old head on young shoulders and he’ll be very aware that his best chance of success is handing the ball off to his offense that’s littered with stars.
Christian McCaffrey is the best offensive player in the NFL and he’s supported by electric receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Kelce might be the only tight end the Swifties know but they’ll quickly become aware of George Kittle.
Don’t forget Nick Bosa on the other side of the ball as well. Mahomes will have been having nightmares about him all week.
Christian McCaffrey is the biggest name in a star-studded offense for the 49ers team
Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco is hoping to win a second Super Bowl in his second season
Stood opposite him though is Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback who knows how to get the job done on the grandest stage.
The Chiefs star may be drawing comparisons to Tom Brady, who won seven Super Bowls in his career, but he insisted this week such links are far too premature.
‘I’m not even close to halfway, so I haven´t put a lot of thought into it,’ Mahomes said.
‘I mean, your goal is to be the best player that you can be. I know I’m blessed to be around a lot of great players. And so, right now, it´s doing whatever I can to beat a great 49ers team and try to get that third ring.
‘And then if you ask me that question in 15 years, and I´ll see if I can get close to seven. But seven seems like a long ways away still.’
Mahomes and Kelce shoulder a lot of responsibility for this Chiefs team and you worry for them if the 49ers shut down their connection. Isiah Pacheco’s running has been a standout this season but Kansas City’s receivers have had problems all year.
Andy Reid has won two Super Bowls while Kyle Shanahan is desperately chasing his first
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will be the backdrop for the mouthwatering game tonight
Masterminding the game plans are coaches at the opposite ends of their career in Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan.
Reid will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history but at 65 has not completely shut down questions about retiring after the Super Bowl.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan, meanwhile, has been close to winning the Super Bowl twice before only to see his teams blow big leads.
He was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator when Brady and the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 second-half deficit to win the Super Bowl in 2017. His 49ers team led the Chiefs 20-10 entering the fourth quarter only to watch Mahomes rally Kansas City to a 31-20 win in Miami in 2020.
‘Both of them are heartbreaking,’ Shanahan said this week. ‘Those things last awhile. But it’s all about getting back there again, and that’s what I’m excited for.’
From the pitch to those watching from the stands to Las Vegas itself, there are so many subplots, storylines and and fascinating elements to this game.
The time for talk is almost over. Super Bowl LVIII is here and it promises to be a game for the ages in Las Vegas.