Super Bowl LV – Chiefs/Buccaneers Match-Up
February 7, 2021
The 55th Super Bowl takes place today, Feb. 7, in Tampa, Florida at the Raymond James Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kickoff America’s biggest game of the year at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Super Bowl, to viewers’ surprise, will look like a semi-normal game by allowing limited attendance (around 22,000 fans) within the stadium. The Chiefs have been to three Super Bowls (I, IV and LIV), taking the Lombardi Trophy home twice, while the Buccaneers have been to one Super Bowl in 2002, also leaving with the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs have been front runners all year, I mean how couldn’t they be with big man Andy Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes? The Bucs have looked good (helloooo Tom Brady/Gronk duo), but the team has definitely had their ups and downs. Regardless of the outcome – thank goodness we are able to start off 2021 with a Super Bowl!
Carlye’s Kansas City Chiefs Write-Up
The leaders of the Chiefs are relatively young compared to the Bucs, but they’ve shown their fighting passion all year. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the first round in the 2017 draft by the Chiefs but didn’t show his true potential until his second year in the NFL. Mahomes is only 25 and is on his way to (hopefully) win another ring alongside his elite tight end and standout receivers. Stat wise, Mahomes ranks second in passing yards (4,740), fourth in regular season touchdowns (38) and is tied for fifth place in interceptions (six). They came out of the regular season with a record of 14-2, and only one of those losses was with Mahomes starting. Mahomes, as most quarterbacks are, is the backbone of this team and only gets more confident with pressure.
The AFC Championship solidified the legitimacy of the Kansas City Chiefs; going up against the trophy hungry Buffalo Bills proved to be no problem, winning with a score of 38-24. Mahomes’ favorite targets that night were, to no one’s surprise, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Kelce rang in 13 catches for 118 yards followed up by Hill’s 9 catches for 172 yards. Kelce and Hill are the first duo in NFL history to have at least 100 receiving yards each in consecutive postseason games. That tells you everything you need to know about this offensive lineup.
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a high ankle sprain injury in Week 15 but had a few attempts and a TD against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship. Injury reports say that although he hasn’t recovered fully, he is expected to play on Sunday. Edwards-Helaire has been their go-to running back, despite acquiring Le’Veon Bell. I expect Bell to get a good amount of time on the field, especially with Edwards-Helaire’s shaky injury.
Speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill aka “Cheetah” has racked up 15 touchdowns, three of them coming from the Week 12 Bucs matchup. Hill left Tampa with a whopping 269 yards, and in the first quarter alone, he had 203 receiving yards. Patrick Mahomes aired the ball out to Hill 15 times, completing 13 of the 15 attempts. Hill had almost 21 yards per catch so it is safe to say he is one of the key play makers for the Chiefs.Travis Kelce, the best tight end in the game, ranks second in receiving yards (1,416) and has 11 total touchdowns to pair with his impressive stat. According to ESPN, he averages roughly 14 yards per catch on third down plays, and in five consecutive seasons, Kelce has achieved over 1,000 receiving yards. Kelce is such a dynamic player, hence his high number of receiving yards, especially considering that he’s a tight end.
Second year wide receiver Mecole Hardman has formed into Andy Reid’s sneaky sideline weapon. The focus on speedster Tyreek Hill and the monstrous Travis Kelce, Hardman has been a reliable set of hands when driving towards the end zone. Offensively, the Chiefs are solid and their offensive linemen have stepped up in the absence of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, but I expect Mahomes to have consistent pressure on his end.
The defense is led by “The Honey Badger” aka safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive tackle Chris Jones. Tyrann Mathieu was third overall in the NFL with six regular season interceptions and one interception in the two postseason games played. He had nine passes defended and 62 total tackles, 48 of them being solo. Safety Dan Sorensen has played well considering his triple threat stats: two forced fumbles, three interceptions and five passes defended. The secondary defense is solid, and I’m excited to see how they pair up with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Let it be known that Jones didn’t play in Week 12 against the Bucs and is ready for Tom Brady. Jones leads his team in sacks (7.5) accompanied with four pass deflections. ESPN stats rank the Chiefs defense at #16. Their run defense is a little above average, giving up 122 rushing yards per game (compared to the Bucs giving up only 80 rush yards per game). The defensive lineup, in my opinion, is not as strong as the offensive lineup.
We’ve seen this team dominate in the Super Bowl before, but how will the Chiefs do against the Super Bowl King?
Mason’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers Write-Up
Finishing with their third consecutive losing season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers future looked uncertain, despite a good mix of young and veteran talent. 2014 first round pick Jameis Winston, had another down year, throwing for 33 touchdowns but a career high 30 interceptions. Desperate to make any type of noise, which is an understatement since they haven’t won a playoff game in eighteen years, Tampa Bay did what no team could imagine: sign former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. A future hall of fame quarterback paired up with two talented pro-bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, sparked plenty of noise in the off-season.
Even with the signing of Tom Brady, Tampa Bay made plenty of noise throughout the off-season, signing quality players such as tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette, and re-signing defensive players Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh. The 2020 draft class was also a success, drafting offensive tackle Tristain Wirfs to improve an average offensive line, and safety Antoine Winfield, to help out an inconsistent but young secondary.
With the media hyping up a potential explosive offense, Tampa Bay’s defense, led by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, was starting to glue together. In an off-season where players and coaches only had so much time to work on their craft, it would only be a matter of time before we would get to see this team play in their prime.
As predicted, the Buccaneers offense at times looked dazed and confused, especially versus playoff teams. Tampa Bay finished 1-5 vs teams with a record better than .500, and 10-0 vs teams below .500. Even though Tampa Bay fell short of winning the NFC South, they were able to punch a ticket into the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Tom Brady finished the regular season with 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and a QBR of 72.6, finishing top 10 in all those statistics. Brady did end up throwing 12 interceptions which was tied for 28th amongst quarterbacks, but compared to Winston’s 30 interceptions, Buccaneers fans will count that stat as a win. Running back Ronald Jones was 22 yards away from a 1000-yard rushing season, finishing 8th in average yards per carry (5.1). Wide receiver Mike Evans ended the season with 1,006 yards and a career high 13 touchdown receptions. Chris Godwin put up 840 yards, Scotty Miller with 501 yards, and newly acquired and controversial WR Antonio Brown was able to produce 483 yards, despite only playing eight games.
On the defensive side, second year linebacker Devin White took charge, racking up 97 tackles (3rd) and nine sacks (Tied-14th). Pro-Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre Paul disputedly had his best season with 9.5 sacks (11th), four forced fumbles (Tied-3rd) and two interceptions. Cornerback Carolton Davis continues to keep gaining momentum every season, showcasing himself as a potential lock down cornerback with four interceptions (Tied-7th) and 18 passes deflected (Tied 2nd).
Heading into the postseason as a wildcard team, Tampa Bay needed to win three consecutive road games in order to play in the Superbowl. Salvaging a 31-23 win against the 7-9 Washington Football Team in the first round, Buccaneer fans were still skeptical on whether this team was capable of defeating a quality playoff team, especially the New Orleans Saints. Losing to New Orleans 23-34 in week one of the regular season, and an embarrassing 38-3 loss in week nine, Tampa Bay was able to get their revenge on a team who’s always been a thorn in their side. Tampa Bay’s defense was able to force four turnovers, defeating the Saints 30-20.
In the NFC championship game versus the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay found themselves leading 28-10 early in the second half. After three interceptions thrown by Tom Brady, the lead was cut to 28-23 heading into the fourth quarter. After Packers head coach Matt LaFleur made a questionable decision to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down at the seven yard line, and a holding penalty on defensive back Kevin King, Tampa Bay was able to survive and advance, defeating the Packers 31-26. Tampa Bay became the first wildcard team to make the Super Bowl since the 2011 New York Giants, and will be the first franchise to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
Mason’s Predictions: As much as the Chiefs in my opinion have a more talented roster, I just have a feeling that there will be a few game-changing plays that side with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady will bounce back after struggling in the second half of the NFC Championship game. Kansas City will outgain Tampa Bay in total yards, but the Bucs defense will stand their ground and force a couple of field goals and get a big turnover sometime throughout the game to change momentum. In a season that’s been a dream come true for this franchise, I predict the Tampa Bay Buccaneers protect their house and knock off the defending Super Bowl champions by a score of 31-27, capturing their second Lombardi trophy.
Carlye’s Predictions: Chiefs win with a score of 34-31, MVP will go to Patrick Mahomes, and Andy Reid will go treat himself to a milkshake and cheeseburger. I think that the difference maker on the defensive side will be Devin White and on the offensive side, the Chiefs offensive line. I don’t think that Mahomes will have much time in the pocket but his running backs have proven they can be helpful in the passing game, as well as his lineup of speedy receivers. Chiefs will lead in passing yards, but the Bucs will have more rushing yards and each quarterback will complete 30 passes, complemented by at least two passing touchdowns. I don’t think that the home team advantage and confidence will be able to scare away this young, upcoming team in Kansas City. I think that this will be a Super Bowl to remember not only because of the circumstances, but because we get to see two different generation’s quarterbacks prove that age can only hold back so much.