2024 Super Bowl players to watch: Under-the-radar picks

It should be obvious that the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Christian McCaffrey are the 2024 Super Bowl players to watch. But we know from experience that it’s sometimes forgotten or overlooked players who make the biggest impact and produce the greatest Super Bowl plays of all time. Just remember the touchdowns that Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore scored in last year’s Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LVIII X-Factors 

So who are the 2024 Super Bowl players to watch who aren’t so obvious? Well, both the Chiefs and 49ers have deep and talented rosters, so there are plenty of options.

As part of our preview of Super Bowl LVIII, here are five players who may not come to mind right away but who could become difference-makers in Super Bowl LVIII.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Unfortunately for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, he’s been criticized as much as any of Kansas City’s wide receivers this season. At times, that unit has been so inept that it led some to question whether the Chiefs could actually win the Super Bowl. However, his brilliant, game-sealing catch in the AFC Championship Game has helped to erase some of the criticism Valdes-Scantling has taken this season.

Equally important, it could boost some of his confidence and the confidence Mahomes has in him as a receiver, perhaps leading to a better performance in the Super Bowl. MVS is surely better than he showed for much of the regular season and gives the Chiefs a deep threat who can stretch the field, making him someone who can hurt the 49ers.

Dre Greenlaw

The San Francisco defense is absolutely loaded with four Pro Bowl selections this season, including three starters. Somehow Dre Greenlaw wasn’t among them, likely because he’s easily overshadowed by Fred Warner. While Warner still gets the headlines as the leader of the San Francisco defense, Greenlaw has been nearly as good this year.

He’s amassed 15 tackles over two playoff games and had two interceptions in the win over the Packers. Against the Chiefs, Greenlaw may have to cover Kelce at times and help stuff the run against Isiah Pacheco. That makes him a key player for the 49ers, although he appears to be up for the challenge.

Noah Gray

Kelce gets so much praise and attention that many people forget that Noah Gray is Kansas City’s other tight end. Gray was fifth on the Chiefs in receiving yards this season.

He was arguably more important than any other receiver on the team outside of Kelce and Rashee Rice. Obviously, the 49ers aren’t going to be game-planning to stop Gray with Kelce on the field. Of course, that is what will make Gray a potential X-factor in the Super Bowl, especially with the Chiefs more than willing to run plays out of two-tight-end sets.

Kyle Juszczyk

Not every NFL team utilizes a fullback, but the 49ers do because they have Kyle Juszczyk, the best in the league. Juszczyk has been to eight straight Pro Bowls, proving time and time again that he’s a great lead-blocker, a capable runner, and a surprisingly useful pass-catcher.

He had two important catches in the NFC Championship Game and continues to open up holes for McCaffrey. While he’s not as dangerous as some of San Francisco’s other playmakers, the 49ers will ensure that Juszczyk plays a role in Super Bowl LVIII, so the Chiefs better be ready for him.

L’Jarius Sneed

L’Jarius Sneed has been an overlooked member of Kansas City’s outstanding defense this season. He actually played a pivotal role in last year’s Super Bowl win with two defended passes and seven tackles. Sneed was also the one who punched the ball free inches before Zay Flowers scored a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game.

With playmakers like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on the outside, Sneed will have a difficult job in the Super Bowl keeping those players under wraps. Therefore, his performance could go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game.

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