Super Bowl LV preview: Chiefs vs. Buccaneers

From Cameron Richardson:

After one of the most unpredictable and chaotic seasons in NFL history, we have made it to Super Bowl LV. There were doubters who believed the NFL season wouldn’t be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but here we are. While there were postponements, outbreaks and games with teams missing their entire QB depth chart, no games were outright canceled.

Now, we have arrived to Feb. 7 and Super Bowl LV will begin without a hitch (minus the haircut snafu, of course).

So how will Super Bowl LV play out?

To be fair, I really don’t know where this game is headed. There are few holes in both teams and I don’t see where aspects will be exposed until the game gets a few drives in for Tampa Bay and Kansas City.

The one main question to go with this game and what makes this game so special is this: are the football gods ready to crown Patrick Mahomes as the GOAT over Tom Brady?

This has to be the question for two reasons.

  1. Mahomes already has a Super Bowl, Super Bowl MVP and regular season MVP on his resume in just his third season in the NFL. A second Super Bowl + a win over the GOAT himself, already puts Mahomes into the ranks of the Manning Brothers. Mahomes also sets himself up well to have a successful career in the long run because of his mobility to avoid big hits. Four or five titles, which include potentially two over Brady easily will earn him the GOAT title once his career comes to an end.
  2. On the flip side, if Brady were to defeat Mahomes at his peak, then the argument is over. Brady will forever be the greatest quarterback to ever live and the greatest champion in sports history. Brady would join the likes of Bill Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Jimmie Johnson to just name a few individuals to win seven or more championships in their respective leagues.

What has to be admired about Brady is that he walked into a terrible franchise and in his first year, leads them to a Super Bowl appearance. The man has already accomplished so much and if he wins his seventh ring in this fashion, it’s his finest achievement ever.

The Buccaneers have to be admired as well for an entire roster of black coordinators, which marks the first time in Super Bowl history this has happened. Diversity matters and one of the best matchups to watch Sunday evening will be the chess match between Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Bowles would be a mad man to call for man defense at any point in this game. He needs to hold DBs in a zone so that they don’t become discouraged if they get blown by Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman. This is where one of the best rookies of the year will come into play with safety Antoine Winfield Jr. The inevitable matchups between Hill and Winfield Jr. may decide the outcome.

The linebacker corp will need to be trusted to limit TE Travis Kelce. Devin White and Lavonte David have the talent to do it and they can also be the ones to bring pressure on Mahomes, which is where the Bucs really need to focus. Trust that the back end of the defense can hold down the receivers and get Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea and Shaquil Barrett on Mahomes as many times as possible. Mahomes is great, but he’s also human and can be pressured into throwing interceptions.

The turnover battle is going to play a massive role as well. Remember Brady’s awful string of three interceptions against the Green Bay Packers? Yeah, that can’t happen against Mahomes. Brady needs to be aggressive, but also be smart at the same time because all it takes is a Bashaud Breeland or Tyrann Mathieu pick-six and this game is over.

So how do I see this one playing out?

I think it will be a slugfest. No one will gain the advantage for the first 55 minutes of this contest. It’s the perfect matchup if we are being honest. These were the two best, all-around teams in the league and the Brady vs. Mahomes rivalry crescendos in chapter two.

I see the Chiefs up 27-24 late in the fourth quarter with the Bucs getting the ball with around three minutes to go. In the end, Brady will get too aggressive and throw an INT to Mathieu, who will take it to the house to cement the first back-to-back champions since the Patriots in 2003-2004, which makes up for the Dee Ford offside against Brady in the 2019 AFC title game.

Prediction: Chiefs 34 – Bucs 24

From Johnny Crane:

If there was ever another storybook matchup of this magnitude, I’d be inclined to call for copyright infringement. 

Two respected coaches. Two highlight-reel defenses. Two elite defenses. Two renowned signal-callers. 

Any and every storyline under the Florida palm trees will all be on the line Sunday afternoon, as the Kansas City Chiefs will vie to go back-to-back to face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV Sunday evening. 

For the Buccaneers, sticking to their strengths will be their bread-and-butter. A nasty front seven led by tackling phenom Devin White and an improved secondary led by rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. must refrain from respecting a Patrick Mahomes-led offense too much to the point of taking away the unit’s collective nastiness. As for the offense, quarterback Tom Brady must keep an accurate trigger finger, as a Chiefs’ defense spearheaded by Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu will capitalize should even the slightest mistake be made. 

No matter what the defenses do, the weapons from both conference winners will look to make the necessary plays at a moment’s notice. From Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette, the opportunities remain endless. Scrappy and steady offensive lines will also look to entrench themselves in early and often as to protect their quarterbacks and create the necessary holes. 

No storyline, however, reaches the pinnacle of all pinnacles when discussing the quarterbacks. 43-year-old (and eventual Hall-of-Famer) Brady could very well be in his last championship dance. The 25-year-old Mahomes, meanwhile, might just be getting started with his dynasty parade. 

No matter the storyline, Andy Reid’s Chiefs and Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers will make the fireworks more than known. The Chiefs, however, will make one more explosive play and go back-to-back. 

Dynasty requested, and dynasty delivered. 

Final Prediction: Kansas City 34 – Tampa Bay 28

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