Four Super Bowl LIV storylines you need to know

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Aside from the major stories of the week, here are some 49er-related angles (other than, “Hey Kyle, how’d the Falcons blow a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl three years ago?”) we’ll be chasing prior to the Super Bowl:

• The Garoppolo Factor. Kyle Shanahan, mad genius . . . in the run game? Late in the first half of the divisional win over Minnesota, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a bad interception (are there good ones?), and since then, Shanahan has Bob-Griesed the offense to two routs. In the 86 San Francisco snaps over the past six quarters, Garoppolo has thrown 14 passes. In those six quarters, Niners backs have gained 410 rushing yards with five touchdowns, the passing game 103 yards and zero touchdowns. (Interesting to note that over the Chiefs’ last 86 snaps, they’ve been in symphonic balance, with 43 Patrick Mahomes passes.) This is a gut feeling I have, based on a little knowledge but mostly feel for Shanahan: He’s not going to hide Garoppolo in this game. He hasn’t hidden him all season—why start in the playoffs? The play-calling has much more to do with the dominance of the run game than any fear in Garoppolo’s performance. If you were able to rush for 6.2 yards per carry over six quarters, wouldn’t you keep running it?

Regarding Garoppolo in big spots: I remember him being shaky in parts of the Monday night loss to Seattle in November. But look at the toughest three-game stretch any team had in this regular season: Green Bay, at Baltimore, at New Orleans. Garoppolo completed 72.4 percent of his throws with seven touchdowns and one pick, and a gaudy 10.1 yards-per-attempt. Would you bury Garoppolo in the game plan if you were Kyle Shanahan, limiting the impact of the great George Kittle and big-game Emmanuel Sanders? I sure wouldn’t—unless the run game is gashing Kansas City the way it gashed the Vikings and Packers.

• San Francisco’s unsung hero. Bobby Turner, the 49ers’ 70-year-old running backs coach, is an amazing story. This is his 25th season as an NFL backfield coach, having broken in on the Denver staff of Mike Shanahan in 1995. Over a quarter-century coaching in Denver, Washington and Atlanta before arriving in San Francisco in 2017, Turner’s backs have produced 16 seasons of 1,000 yards rushing by eight different players—and that doesn’t include the 1,015 yards by Raheem Mostert this year because Mostert’s total includes playoff games and the others do not. Six of those eight backs came to Turner either off the street or drafted in the fourth round or later: Terrell Davis (196th pick), Olandis Gary (127th), Mike Anderson (189th pick), Reuben Droughns (off waivers), Alfred Morris (173rd pick) and Devonta Freeman (103rd pick). His rushing leaders with the Niners in 2018 and ‘19, Matt Breida and Mostert, were undrafted.

The Turner coaching style fits both Shanahans’ one-cut-and-get-upfield ethos. He’s so valuable because coaches know every year before the draft he’ll find a tarnished or underrated gem. It was Turner, the rookie NFL coach, who was adamant in the sixth round of his first draft: Take this kid from Georgia, Terrell Davis. He’s an every-down back. Great running backs don’t have to be the shiniest prospects. As Turner once said: “It’s like with your wife or girlfriend—when you see her, I mean, it’s like love.”

With the top backs on the Niner depth chart, Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman, battling injuries for much of their collective time in San Francisco, Turner has honchoed Mostert and Breida into Super Bowl staples—although no one will know till game day whether the main back this week will be Coleman (shoulder) or Mostert.

• The Lynch-Shanahan merger. Kyle Shanahan got the 49ers job three years ago, and he agreed to the gig before finding a GM. How’d he make a match with John Lynch, a FOX color man for NFL games? “I had just called his divisional playoff game [Falcons 36, Seahawks 20] in Atlanta,” Lynch told me on this week’s “The Peter King Podcast.” “I thought he did a brilliant job. I said so on air. I called him and said, ‘Sounds like you’re gonna have a great shot at this San Francisco [job]. Good luck in the NFC Championship.’ I remember in the conversation Kyle saying, The one thing I’m working through—I can’t find a GM I’d like to work with. Something was gnawing at me. I couldn’t go to sleep for about four days. I was supposed to be kind of on vacation because my TV season was over. I woke up one morning and I said, ‘What’s gnawing at me is what Kyle said.’ ” Lynch called Shanahan a couple of days before the NFC Championship Game. The conversation, as Lynch recalled, went like this:

Lynch: “What about me?”

Shanahan: “What are you talking about?”

Lynch: “What about me for the GM job?”

Shanahan: “Why would you do that? You’ve got a great job.”

Lynch, post-playing career, thought one day he might go to work with John Elway in Denver, because they’re friends and they’d discussed it before, or in San Diego, which he loved, and which was home. But before he knew it, Shanahan got CEO Jed York on a three-way call, and York and Lynch met in northern California about the job, and the match was made. It probably never happens if Lynch hadn’t picked up the phone after some sleepless nights three years ago.

• The challenge of the 49er pass rush. I asked my friends at Pro Football Focus for some statistical help this week on the formidable San Francisco pass-rush, which has nine sacks and 26 hits/significant hurries on the quarterback in two postseason games. Logically, with the Niners front healthy and playing productively, you’d figure it could be the biggest factor in the Super Bowl. Now I’m not so sure. With a fit front in these playoffs, San Francisco pressured Kirk Cousins, on average, 2.43 seconds after the snap; and, with Aaron Rodgers, 2.58 seconds after the snap. On average, that means San Francisco is pressuring the quarterback about 2.5 seconds after every passing snap. Patrick Mahomes, over the past two years, has a 120.3 rating and 5,248 passing yards when throwing in 2.5 seconds or faster. That’s the best in the NFL since the start of 2018.

For the Niners, it’s a very good thing that the secondary has ramped up its game. PFF figured that the San Francisco secondary had the NFL’s second-best season-long grade when quarterbacks threw in 2.5 seconds or less. Translation: Against the Niners, Mahomes won’t be home free just because most weeks he throws efficiently when pressured. Most weeks you’re not facing Richard Sherman.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

How to watch Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens this Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland as Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson go head-to-head in an AFC North Showdown. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

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Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: Rodney Harrison Urges Players To Speak Up When They Have Head Injuries

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) are coming off a 21-15 victory over the Miami Dolphins last Thursday night–the Bengals’ second straight win after an ugly 0-2 start to the season. Cincinnati’s offensive line has improved significantly over the last 2 games. In Weeks 1 and 2, Burrow was sacked a total of 13 times but in Weeks 3 and 4, the Bengals franchise QB was sacked only 3 times–going down just once in last Thursday’s win. In his career, Burrow–who has been sacked more times than any other quarterback since entering the NFL in 2020–is 11-2 when dropped 2 times or fewer. The protection of Burrow will be a crucial factor in determining whether or not Cincinnati can avoid the Super Bowl hangover and actually reach the playoffs again. Only eight of the 56 teams to lose a Super Bowl have made it back the following year.

RELATED: Joe Burrow – I had all the time I needed in the pocket

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) blew a 17-point lead and fell 23-20 to the Buffalo Bills at home last Sunday afternoon. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh opted to try and go for a touchdown rather than a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the Bills’ 2-yard-line with just over four minutes left in the game but Jackson’s pass was picked off in the endzone.

Sunday’s loss marked the second time that the Ravens have blown a lead of 17+ points this season, the first was a Week 2 loss against the Dolphins where Baltimore had a 21-point lead. Despite forcing multiple turnovers in each game this season, consistent defense has continued to be an issue for the Ravens who have allowed 425.0 yards per game through four weeks. On offense, Jackson–who made the decision to bet on himself and is playing this season on the $23 million 5th-year option of his rookie contract–has continued to exceed expectations. Jackson has 13 total touchdowns, including 11 pass touchdowns, and leads the Ravens with 316 rush yards –the most of any QB in the NFL this season.

RELATED: Lamar Jackson continues to exceed expectations while betting on himself this season


How to watch the Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens:

  • Where: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
  • When: Sunday, October 9
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

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If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals vs Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 4: Hurts At Home In Philly, Players And Parents On Football Safety, And The Case For Aaron Donald

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: NFLPA Believes Tua Tagovailoa Shouldn’t Have Returned Last Week, Even If It Was A Back Injury

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs dominate Bucs 41-31

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

RELATED: How to watch/live stream Bengals vs Ravens game 


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 5 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!