The Kansas City Chiefs will try to become the 8th franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team in NFL history to be playing in their home stadium for the Super Bowl. We won’t count the San Francisco 49ers playing at Stanford Stadium in Super Bowl XIX since that wasn’t the 49ers stadium. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida will play host to Super Bowl LV (55). Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in kindergarten when Brady played in his first Super Bowl. The storylines can be almost endless for any Super Bowl, but the main headlines for each team are these. Can the Chiefs establish themselves as the next dynasty in the NFL with another Super Bowl title? And can the Bucs play a perfect game for the first time this entire season? Kansas City will be going for their third title in franchise history, while Tampa Bay will be trying to win their second title.
For Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, this is some uncharted territory considering where he was with the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons. He only made it to one Super Bowl appearance with them even though he made it to the playoffs in all but five seasons with them. With the Chiefs he’s only missed the playoffs once and now has a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls with them. The talk is becoming premature at this point that he could replicate what Bill Belichick has done with the New England Patriots. Having QB Patrick Mahomes certainly helps that discussion begin to take place. For Andy Reid to win another Super Bowl he won’t have to do anything he hasn’t already done. Even though the Chiefs this season didn’t look as good as they did last year, they still won 14 games during the regular season. While there was a scare against the Cleveland Browns that was without Mahomes for most of the second half. They looked just as dominant as ever in the AFC Championship game. His defense looks even better than they were at this point last year. Should he win another title he will be considered among this generations greatest coaches if he isn’t already.
It’s been an interesting tenure for Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. Everyone knew he was going to find a replacement for Jameis Winston after last season. We didn’t expect that Tom Brady would be the guy. It hasn’t been an easy transition for them. Arians is a stubborn coach, but has that aggressiveness that a lot of players feed off of. This makes sense why Brady would choose to come here and the fact that the arsenal on offense is one of the best Brady has ever played with. For Arians and the Bucs to get to this point he needed to adjust his play calling because just throwing the ball for quick scores wasn’t going to cut it. Against the best teams in the NFC they needed to keep their defense fresh and that means running the damn ball. They almost abandoned it in the NFC Championship game to start the second half when they were up big. Arians has won a Super Bowl and lost a Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator. Both times were with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008 and 2010. He’ll need to use that experience if he wants to win one as a head coach.
Players to Watch
We all know that QB Patrick Mahomes will be at the center of attention for the Chiefs. As will his favorite targets in TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill. How will rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire perform and how much will RB Le’Veon Bell be utilized? Will DL Chris Jones and DB Tyrann Mathieu continue their stellar play? I’m going to take an unconventional approach and briefly highlight the fact that the starting LT Eric Fisher won’t be playing. He suffered a torn achilles in the AFC Championship game and Mike Remmers will be protecting Mahomes’ blindside. The name ‘Remmers’ should be familiar to the likes of Carolina Panthers fans. He was the starting right tackle in Super Bowl 50 and couldn’t lay a finger on the Denver Broncos pass rushers. Thus allowing Von Miller to be the games MVP. Remmers has certainly redeemed himself since that season, but this will be a spot to watch with Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul rushing towards Mahomes.
The Buccaneers had the best rush defense in the league and it showed in their playoff run. The last time they played the Chiefs though they thought it was a great idea to plan man coverage with Mahomes torching them with long touchdown passes to Tyreek Hill. Hopefully defensive coordinator Todd Bowles learned from that and doesn’t implement that scheme in this game. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul must get to Mahomes and make him lose focus. Ndamukong Suh can be a huge force in this game just like he was for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. Tampa Bay’s secondary will need to play the best game of their lives if they want any chance of success. Antoine Winfield Jr. and Sean Murphy-Bunting are their two best playmakers at the back end. Devin White and Lavonte David are perhaps the best linebacker tandem in the league right now. Either one can spy Mahomes and/or cover Travis Kelce. We assumed that WR Mike Evans would be Brady’s favorite target and his 13 touchdown catches is certainly proof. However, WR Chris Godwin has been that go-to-guy for Brady and had he not missed 4 games due to injury the stats would show that. TE Rob Gronkowski has been an excellent blocker for the run game and shouldn’t be ignored in the redzone.
Key of the Game
As with every NFL game the team that puts the most pressure on the opposing quarterback usually comes out victorious. That will be the case in this one with a line that has had inconsistent play in parts of the year and another that doesn’t have their stalwart left tackle. QB Tom Brady has only been sacked 21 times during the season, but has been put down 5 times in the playoffs so far. He’s going up against Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The same Steve Spagnuolo who put tremendous pressure on Brady in Super Bowl 42 as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants who defeated the undefeated New England Patriots in that game. The Buccaneers need to keep Brady upright this entire game. For the Chiefs, QB Patrick Mahomes was only sacked 22 times during the season, but has a turf toe issue that’s been bothering him for over a month now. He is still a mobile threat with that minor injury, but not having LT Eric Fisher could be a huge factor. Especially if Mike Remmers, who has been great on the right side, can’t match the performance of Fisher. The blitzing schemes of Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles are among the best in football.
Who Will Win?
Will this be the passing of the torch so to speak of Tom Brady to Patrick Mahomes? Will the old man show that he is superior to the young gun? Kansas City has been the best team in the NFL the entire season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some growing pains, but finally put it all together once the calendar turned to December. Neither team is a traditional ground it out kind of franchise. They want to go for the big play at any given moment. This could bode well for a high scoring affair the likes of which we haven’t seen since Super Bowl 52 between the Eagles and Patriots. With that I believe the defense, like in that Super Bowl, who forces a turnover at a crucial juncture will have their team winning it all in the end. Hence Tyrann Mathieu will intercept Tom Brady in the 4th quarter to have Patrick Mahomes (who wins the MVP award again) lead the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl victory with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. Kansas City wins 35-31.