Super Bowl 55 Preview: Chiefs vs Bucs

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The Lombardi Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the Super Bowl.

Nick Holt, Editor-in-Chief

Super Bowl 55! It’s finally here.  After a season full of obstacles and adversity, the Chiefs and Buccaneers face off for the Lombardi Trophy, the crown jewel of the National Football League.

The G.O.A.T. versus the heir to his throne, a battle for the ages between the two most notable players in the league, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

Certainly a box office match-up, as all Super Bowls should be, though this one obviously won’t have the atmosphere as previous games.  With COVID-19 restrictions, only 25,000 fans along with 30,000 cutouts will be in attendance at Raymond James Stadium, per NFL Insider, Ian Rapoport.

Nonetheless, the stakes are still high.  A familiar stage for both signal callers, Mahomes will be looking to go back to back, trying to win his second Super Bowl in his young career, while Brady will be looking to get his 7th ring.  If you hate winners, Super Bowl 55 is not for you.

Currently, the Chiefs are 3-point favorites against the Buccaneers, despite the home field advantage of Tampa Bay, the first time in NFL history where a team will be playing and hosting the Super Bowl.  Though, according to Vegas, Mahomes will prove too much for the resident Buccaneers.  With that being said, here’s why either the Chiefs can go back to back or the Bucs can defy odds, with Brady winning another one.

Chiefs

The emphasis for the Chiefs on offense needs to be on creative play calling.  Kansas City might have the two best play callers in the NFL, and it could potentially be the difference for them this Super Bowl.  Andy Ried and Eric Bienemy are mad scientists of the game, and they have all of the best ingredients to work with.  I can almost guarantee that Ried and Bienemy have something up their sleeves that they haven’t run all season, and it’ll turn out to be a 60-yard touchdown pass for one of their superstars.

Similar to last Super Bowl, when the Chiefs faced an all time elite defense in the San Francisco 49ers, and they pulled out Jet Chip Wasp, which turned into a huge play for Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs offense.  The Chiefs really just have to play their game, be in the driver’s seat, and dictate the flow of the game.  The run game will likely be shut down for them against a stout Buccaneers front, so their passing game must be on point, which fortunately is spearheaded by Mahomes.  But truly, the Chiefs must have something that the Buccaneers aren’t expecting or preparing for, something that makes them adjust and opens the game up for Mahomes and the offense.  It will be extremely important for Mahomes to stay composed throughout the game and control the script, or else things could potentially get ugly.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kansas City isn’t the most elite group in the league, though, they have been playing better as of late.  For the Chiefs they will really need to pack it in on defense, they cannot let Leonard Fournette get going like he has in previous weeks.  Green Bay did a good job against the run last week, something they normally struggle with, and ultimately caused a domino effect for Brady turning the ball over.  If Brady throws the 3 interceptions he did last week against the Green Bay Packers, this game will be an automatic blow out  and Kansas City will be raising their second Lombardi Trophy in two years.

However, asking for 3 turnovers is certainly a tall order against the greatest quarterback of all time, who likely will be kicked into gear for this one.  One of the biggest X-Factors of the entire game is Chris Jones, defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.  He plays a big role in stopping the run for this defense, and if he doesn’t show up to play for Kansas City, it will make life so much easier for the Buccaneers offense.  Winning at the line of scrimmage is everything against Tampa Bay, stopping the run and getting pressure on an immobile quarterback could be huge if Kansas City is up for the task.

Buccaneers

Defense is the key to the game for the Buccaneers.  It’s impossible to give a task of stopping the Chiefs offense of Mahomes, Hill, Travis Kelce, etc., especially in the playoffs.  Though, being able to contain them is possible.

Mahomes is a fantastic talent, but he is not above getting impatient on offense.  If Tampa Bay plays an extremely soft defense, letting Mahomes and this offense throw the ball short, it’s almost evident that Mahomes will get antsy to throw a deep ball potentially making a mistake that could prove game-changing for the Buccaneers.  It’s a dangerous game, giving up the short stuff to a team with such elite athletes, though there’s not much else you can do to stop this offense.  Teams in the past have tried to bring a lot of pressure against Mahomes and this offense, and with a weak Kansas City offensive line, it’ll be really tempting to do so, especially with the talent Tampa Bay holds off the edge with Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquill Barrett, but they have to be extremely careful. Mahomes has been unfazed by the blitz in previous situations, and given the speed of the Chiefs offense, having the most men in coverage would probably be the most ideal formation for this Tampa Bay defense.

On offense, the Buccaneers need to be able to keep pace with the Chiefs.  Recently, Kansas City’s defense has been playing up to their opponents level, shutting down Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs last week, though Tampa Bay has a lot more weapons than Buffalo had last week.  With the addition of Antonio Brown, who was unable to play last week due to a knee injury, Tampa Bay gets even more dynamic, adding to the already elite core of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard “Playoff Lenny” Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, and Ronald Jones.

The Buccaneers must stay away from kicking field goals and limit their turnovers. Field goals will not be enough to keep pace with the Chiefs. Points win Super Bowls, and the Buccaneers will need a lot of them against the Chiefs. Brady was a little careless last week throwing the football into the defense, which he has to do a better job this week of protecting the football, as possessions are extremely valuable against a prominent Chiefs offense.

One other hidden key to the game for Tampa Bay I feel is tight end Cameron Brate.  Brate is overshadowed by the media due to the sexy name of Rob Gronkowski, who truly is vastly ineffective in the pass game, and recently, Brate has really been an elite target in past weeks.  The edge could potentially be a few disguised passing plays that end up with 20+ yard gains from the tight end out of Harvard University. Finally, the conclusion for the Bucs offense is no other than Brady.  He is the greatest football player to ever live, and the trust in him to get the job done should be unanimous.  There’s not much else to say about the guy, he’s Tom Brady, and he will always give his team a fighting chance.

Nick’s Pick

I’ve stuck with the Buccaneers all year long, these two teams were my original Super Bowl pick, and here we are.  Brady vs Mahomes.  I really want to say the Chiefs shut down the run and come out on top, but I’ve learned to never bet against Brady.  Give me the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a shoot out, Tom Brady Super Bowl MVP, Devin White and Antonio Brown shine, as Raymond James Stadium rocks with the franchise’s second Super Bowl victory in history.