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The Kansas City Chiefs hold a potential edge in Super Bowl LVIII versus the San Fransisco 49ers this Sunday, with kicker Harrison Butker leading the charge.

Butker, with a stellar 94.3 percent field goal conversion rate in 2023, brings a proven track record to the championship clash.

On the flip side, the 49ers pin their hopes on rookie Jake Moody, whose 84 percent accuracy in 2023 places him 20th overall. In the 2023-24 regular season, the former Michigan kicker made 21 out of 25 field goals.

In Sunday’s battle for supremacy at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, kicking prowess could be a deciding factor. Unexpectedly, rookie kickers have demonstrated remarkable resilience in handling the immense pressure of Super Bowl appearances.

Moody will officially be the 12th rookie kicker to participate in the Super Bowl. The 11 other rookie kickers coming before him have collectively converted 15 out of 17 field goal attempts (88.2 percent) during their Super Bowl debuts.

This translates to at least among ten rookie kickers attempting at least one field goal, eight displayed greater accuracy in the Super Bowl than in the regular season.

In contrast, non-rookie kickers converted 137 out of 187 attempts, yielding a 73.2 percent success rate.

Butker’s consistent career excellence

Butker has maintained a flawless performance this postseason, successfully converting all seven field goals and extra points. This follows a regular season where the Georgia Tech alumni achieved a fantastic conversion rate on field goals and remained perfect on extra points.

Throughout his seven-year career, Butker has consistently demonstrated his prowess in the postseason. He has an 87.5 percent success rate on field goals, including five successful attempts out of six from 50-plus yards.

Additionally, Butker currently stands on the brink of two significant kicking records held by legendary kickers. Stephen Gostkowski from the New England Patriots and Adam Vinatieri from the Indianapolis Colts currently share the record for the most field goals made in Super Bowl games, with seven each.

Gostkowski achieved this milestone in six Super Bowls, while Vinatieri did so in five. Butker, on the other hand, has amassed five field goals across three Super Bowls. This places him just three field goals shy of surpassing both kickers for first place.

Moody’s postseason struggles

In contrast to Butker’s performance, Moody’s has been inconsistent since joining as the No. 99 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The former Michigan standout ranked 24th in field-goal conversion percentage, managing to convert 60 out of 61 extra-point attempts.

During the postseason, Moody struggled, making only three out of five field-goal attempts. Notably, he missed two attempts from intermediate range (40-49 yards). Yet, how risky it seems for a rookie to start as a kicker in the Super Bowl, historical data suggests otherwise.

Moody will be the 12th rookie or first-year player to kick in the Super Bowl next Sunday. Moody’s performance parallels that of recent rookie Super Bowl kickers, the Baltimore Ravens’ Evan McPherson and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jake Elliott.

Despite hitting only 84.8 percent of his kicks in 2021, McPherson delivered a flawless Super Bowl performance, going 2-for-2. Similarly, Elliott, with a regular-season field goal success rate of 83.9 percent, was perfect in the Super Bowl, hitting all his attempts, including three crucial field goals.

Elliott’s Super Bowl prowess even earned him a tie for the career record for most field goals without a miss in the big game.

Moody himself is unfazed by the expected audience of over 100 million viewers for the game. Claiming that he has “participated in numerous significant games,” the former Michigan kicker expressed readiness when he talked to the media this week.

“It’s simply executing the same routine, trusting the process,” he said. “It’s no different from any other kick.”

In the Super Bowl, Moody will kick in the same stadium where he made his first career NFL field goal attempt. During the 49ers’ inaugural preseason game in August, Moody missed both attempts from 40 and 58 yards at Allegiant Stadium.

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