Super Bowl LV is set for Sunday night, all eyes have turned to one man. This player has…
Been to 10 super bowls and won 6 in his 20-year career (7th pending)
Played on 18% of all super bowl Sundays
Won as many NFC title games as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees
Beat more NFC teams in the playoffs than Brees
Has won more than twice as many playoff games as Joe Montana, who has won 16
If no one comes to mind, you should probably crawl out from the rock you are living under. Quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady is gearing up to face off against The Kansas City Chiefs on February 7th. The Chiefs, led by a quarterback that…
Won an MVP at 23 years old
Won a Super Bowl and the MVP at 24 years old
Has an undeniable talent to launch the ball downfield and tear apart NFL defenses on the ground and through the air
Is expected to or already has taken the torch from Mr. Brady
Now that you are out from under the rock, Patrick Mahomes should come to mind. In the matter of the chosen one vs. the goat, coaching, the run game, and defense will be the factors that crown a champion on Sunday.
These teams have already faced off in Week 12 this year, as the Chiefs came out on top by a narrow margin of 3 points after a comeback effort by Brady and the Bucs. Mahomes outdueled Brady, but this was largely in part to Tyreek Hill’s 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. Although the Bucs had two receivers around 100 yards, Brady turned the ball over twice. I believe the outcome of the Super Bowl will be the same, but the Chiefs will win because of a big game by an unexpected player. These offenses speak for themselves. Beyond the superstar quarterbacks, the clubs are riddled with playmakers:
Tom Brady has nothing to lose, as he is already a HOF lock and considered by many as the greatest quarterback of all time. This ring would be one hell of a cherry on top to an illustrious career. Unfortunately, Brady has to face off against the grim reaper himself to reach victory. No, not Patrick Mahomes, not Andy Reid…Steve Spagnuolo. Spags beat Brady and the Pats in 2008 when they were outmatched by the Giants defense and (hall of famer...article for another day) Eli Manning. Brady was held to an average QBR on the biggest stage in football, fumbled the ball, threw one touchdown, one pick, and only completed 60% of his passes (Schwartz, 2021) (ESPN, 2021).
The Chiefs defensive coordinator is very familiar with Brady and has plenty of studs and schemes to make him sweat. Although KC’s defensive line has playmakers like Chris Jones and Frank Clark, the unit has been underwhelming this season. According to pff.com, the Chiefs had the 22nd best pass rush of the year, so Tampa’s big O-line will most likely give Brady plenty of time to throw (Linsey, 2021). Tom Terrific threw 3 picks in the second half of the NFC title game and will now be facing the Honey Badger. Not only do the Chiefs have the 6th most interceptions with 16, but Tyrann Mathieu has caught 6 of those…On only 9 passes defended. Brady will have his hands full with the Chiefs’ secondary. On the other hand, Tampa Bay’s defense will have their hands full with Mahomeboy, Cheetah, and Travis Kelce, who really needs a nickname.
It is no secret that the Chiefs have one of the most lethal offenses of recent memory, but the Bucs defense is built on a scheme and with the right personnel to have a chance at slowing KC’s offense down. Todd Bowles is one of the rising stars in the coaching scene and has every level of his defense buying into the system and there is no question they will be ready for the Chiefs on Sunday.
Bowles has his young secondary flying to the ball. This kind of ball hawking, speedy defense is perfect for defending Tyreek Hill. He can run across the field in any direction and get open, so being there for the tackle when he catches the ball is the key. Tampa Bay’s secondary has caught the 7th most interceptions (15) and according to pff.com have 6th highest graded secondary in terms of coverage. They also are one of three teams to have two corners in the top 25 of coverage grade (Treash, 2021).
To neutralize one of the best pass-catching tight ends of all time, Tampa also has an impressive linebacker unit. Jason Pierre-Paul, one of the fastest linebackers in the league is an incredibly dynamic player that can aid the pass rush, play in zone, and could also keep up with stars like Kelce one-on-one. JPP was 4th in sacks amongst linebackers while his teammate, Devin White was 5th. White was also 5th in total tackles and 3rd in tackles for loss among linebackers for the 2020-2021 season. Additionally, he led all off-ball linebackers in combined sacks and quarterback hits (13) (Treash).
The defense line is filled with studs that have been causing turmoil for NFL offensive lines. Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, and Vita Vea headline this unit that is graded as the 8th best pass rush according to PFF (Linsey). Realistically the Bucs line should be ranked higher as they only had star nose-tackle Vea for 5 weeks of the regular season.
The Chiefs are missing 4 out of 5 of their original offensive line starters. Although the replacements have been solid, that would be a huge concern for any team facing TB’s defensive line. Fortunately, Mahomes, being as incredible as he is, has a better passer rating under pressure. His QBR under pressure on play action snaps is almost double the league average under the circumstances (48.4) (Foxworth, 2020). One cannot be certain that Mahomes will be able to follow suit if Bowles has his defense negating the star power of Hill and Kelce.
The Buccaneers will be confident heading into the game that they have the perfect recipe to counter Kansas City’s high-octane offense. There is only one problem with this game plan…Andy Reid will be expecting it and he wants his damn cheeseburger. The Chiefs will throw in their usual dose of darts and bombs to Kelce and Hill, but I think the game will be won by an unsung hero…Clyde Edwards-Helaire. CEH has been very inconsistent all year after a lot of hype surrounded him joining the defending champs; he has also been injured since week 15.
The Buccaneers have a lot of confidence in their D-line and will expect the run game to be a nonfactor. This is due to the Chiefs O-line that has been scrounged together and a banged up CEH and ineffective Le’Veon Bell. Andy Reid loves using misdirection and has plenty of weapons to distract the defense with. He is going to get CEH involved in the passing game and Tampa Bay will never see it coming (Swanson, 2021).
It is possible that the Chiefs will wait until the second half to unveil this strategy, but they could also use it from the very start of the game. Getting CEH involved in the first half will allow the Bucs to adjust at halftime to slow him down, but once Tyreek Hill starts running straight down the field or Mahomes escapes the pocket…Those adjustments get thrown out the window.
No matter how well-prepared Tampa Bay’s defense is, the Chiefs offense has all the leverage just because of their dynamic nature. Having playmakers like they do along with the reputation of ripping through NFL defenses, gives the Chiefs the ultimate edge. We can expect the loosey-goosey nature of Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers organization to cause some sort of mayhem that will mess with the Kansas City game plan, but I expect a similar score to the first meeting (27-24). I will also be the first to say that Clyde Edwards-Helaire will win Super Bowl MVP with at least 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.
*all statistics taken from profootballreference.com, unless stated otherwise.