It’s been a long 18 years, but here we are.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it to the franchise’s second Super Bowl thanks to a rising defense and Tom Brady. The Kansas City Chiefs are back to defend their title and look just as good as ever after putting a beatdown on the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago.
Both teams matchup so well with each other and both teams have their advantages. There are so many storylines to add on top of the game, which creates the perfect storm for (hopefully) one of the best Super Bowls we’ve ever witnessed.
- Super Bowl History: Super Bowl LV represents Kansas City’s fourth trip to the Super Bowl and Tampa Bay’s second trip. The Chiefs are 2-1 in the big game while the Bucs are 1-0. Will the Bucs move to 2-0 in the big game or will they watch the Chiefs win their third Lombardi Trophy?
- All-time series history: Tampa Bay leads the all-time series, 7-6. Kansas City won the most recent matchup, 27-24, back in Week 12 of the 2020 season.
- 2020 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay finished the regular season with the seventh-best offense (2nd passing, 28th rushing) and the sixth-best defense (21st passing, 1st rushing). Kansas City finished with league’s best offense (1st passing, 16th rushing) and the 16th-ranked defense (14th passing, 21st rushing).
What To Watch For
- The GOAT vs. The Kid: I hate to step right out into the national storylines, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. In one corner, we have Tom Brady, setter-of-all-NFL-passing-records and winner-of-a-billion-Super-Bowls. In the other, it’s Patrick Mahomes, the one quarterback in the league who could challenge Brady’s career at the end of the day. Mahomes’ current career trajectory is insane and the Chiefs have the pieces to get it done. But don’t forget about the Bucs. Brady knows exactly what he is doing and the Bucs have an extremely talented roster, as well. Each legacy has a chance to grow on Sunday.
- The Bucs pass rush vs. the Chiefs pass protection: Brady and Mahomes are going to steal the spotlight, but this is the matchup that will actually determine the game. Kansas City lost starting left tackle Eric Fisher to a torn achilles during the AFC Championship game, while the Bucs have gained Vita Vea since then. Make no mistake: Fisher’s injury is a big deal. However, the Chiefs have dealt with a beat-up offensive line all year long. This is nothing new to them. Regardless, the Bucs have to get pressure on Mahomes. It would really help if they can get their with four guys, but that obviously remains to be seen if it’s possible. They have a great shot at doing just that, as well. But if they don’t, they have no shot at winning this game.
- Kansas City’s secondary vs. Tampa Bay’s receivers: This is another big matchup that will go a long way in determining this game. The Chiefs run a ton of dime, which means they are going to have six defensive backs on the field. This obviously helps them matchup better against teams with a plethora of receivers such as the Bucs. You have Tyrann Mathieu back there, obviously, but players like Juan Thornhill and L’Jarius Sneed have taken the defensive back end to another level. Tampa Bay’s receiving corps is completely healthy with the return of Antonio Brown. Who will come out on top?
- Execution in the red zone: This is the Super Bowl. Every single play matters. Especially when you get inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. The Chiefs have registered a 64% conversion rate during the postseason, but we’ve seen two different performances. The Browns were able to hold the Chiefs to a 2-of-5 mark inside the 20, but the Bills allowed them to convert 5-of-6 trips into touchdowns. Tampa Bay is just 6-of-13 (46%), but they’ve improved each week. The key here is that Tampa Bay held the Chiefs to a 1-of-4 conversion rate back in Week 12. If the Bucs can pull this off for a second time while limiting the big plays (sounds extremely hard, I know), then it will make a big difference in this game.
- Kansas City’s and Tampa Bay’s blitz packages: I’m not entirely sure the Bucs will blitz as much as folks are accustomed to, but it will be something to watch when they do. Bowles is one of the more creative play callers/disguisers on defense and so is Steve Spagnuolo. I do expect Spags to blitz just as much as he did back in Week 12. He knows what his defense is capable of and he’s one of the best around. This game should be a fun one if you’re a fan of creative defensive play/game planning.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QB Tom Brady: This is so obvious it’s painful. But this needs to be mentioned: Brady can’t make the same mistakes he made in the second half against the Packers. The Bucs are going to need him to be on point.
- RB Leonard Fournette: Ronald Jones II is healthy and ready to go, but “Playoff Lenny” has just been too good during the postseason. The Chiefs’ dime package will be awfully tempting to run against, so the Bucs will need Fournette to produced when called upon.
- WR Chris Godwin: He’s had an up-and-down postseason, but what better opportunity than this to make up for the inconsistency? It won’t be easy going up against Sneed, but Godwin certainly has the talent and the drive to get the job done.
- DL Vita Vea: This is an incredible story and Vea has returned to full health when the Bucs need him most. He will be a difference-maker in this game. The only question is: Will it be enough?
- LB Devin White: The second-year linebacker has been unreal and you can argue his return in the Divisional Round against the Saints is what has propelled this defense to new heights. White leads the NFL in postseason tackles despite missing the Wild Card game. It’s clear this dude means the world to this defense when you throw the game-changing plays he’s made on top of that.
- CB Carlton Davis III: Everyone who watched the Week 12 matchup know what happened during the first quarter. And believe me, Davis is aware, as well. You think he won’t be out to prove himself in this game?
Kansas City Chiefs
- QB Patrick Mahomes: If anyone can challenge Brady’s legacy, it’s Mahomes. Tampa Bay has to not only find a way to control his arm, but the Bucs also have to make sure they limit his impact on the ground and during out-of-structure plays, as well.
- TE Travis Kelce: You can’t say enough good things about Kelce outside of his inability to chug a beer. He’s a matchup nightmare and is essentially unguardable. Will Tampa Bay have any answers?
- WR Tyreek Hill: Just flip on the Week 12 tape and you’ll see everything you need to know. Hill is by far and away the most electric playmaker in the NFL and it may not even be close.
- DL Chris Jones: He’s one of the best for a reason. Aaron Stinnie has played really well over the last two games, but Jones is a different animal. He’ll be lined up on Stinnie for the most of the game too, so, Stinnie needs to be ready.
- S Tyrann Mathieu: The Honey Badger is as effective as ever in Spags’ defense and is a threat to the offense on every play.
- S Juan Thornhill: I really, really wanted to put Sneed here, but a healthy Thornhill allows the Chiefs to do more on defense. He looked great against the Bills and will most certainly impact this game on Sunday.
- The Bucs have scored 584 points, have 32 team takeaways, and have a +160 point differential in 2020. All three numbers lead the NFL.
- Tom Brady is just the second athlete (in all major sports) to play in 10 championships over the last 30 years. LeBron James is the other one.
- 2020 saw the Bucs score 30+ points in 11 games in 2020, which is the second-most in the league. The Chiefs scored 30+ in 10 games. Tampa Bay also finished 2020 with nine double-digit wins, which is good for first place.
- Tampa Bay’s 142 points off turnovers (regular season and playoffs) leads the NFL.
- Leonard Fournette has set a new postseason record for the Bucs with 313 scrimmage yards in a single postseason and Chris Godwin has the most receiving yards (223) in the same context. Sean Murphy-Bunting has not only tied Tampa Bay’s record for most interceptions in a single postseason, but he’s also tied the record for the most playoff interceptions all-time.
*Stats provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
This game has all the makings of a classic and should it go down to the wire.
Both teams are going to make plays and both teams are going to beat the hell out of each other. I’m not trying to sound cliche, but there are going to be 106 guys —not including the coaching staffs— with the same goal: To do whatever it takes to win this game.
There’s no reason to pump this game up anymore. The last two weeks have done that enough, so I’m just going to cut straight to the point.
The Bucs have an extremely good chance to win this game. That pass rush should help contain Mahomes to the point where Kansas City’s offense isn’t as effective as it normally is. And when you couple that with the drastic changes to the Bucs offense in recent weeks, it’s clear that the Bucs are here for more than just a good time. They mean business.
But the trio of Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill on offense and the Spags Effect on defense is what is going to allow the Chiefs to repeat as Super Bowl champs. At the end of the day, the Chiefs have just a little more firepower than the Bucs and that will make the difference.