Super Bowl LV is here! This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa Bay for a chance to win the Super Bowl. 256 games in the NFL season and it all comes down to this! Will Patrick Mahomes continue to solidify himself as one of the greatest young QBs in NFL history? Will Tom Brady show the world that at the age of 43, he can still dominate on the ultimate stage? The Lance breaks down each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and predicts who will bring the Lombardi Trophy home.
Key Players: Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce.
Mahomes is on track to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and he gets another chance to prove it by showing up Brady, who is viewed by many to be the Greatest QB of all time. He has continued to prove his sheer excellence throughout his third season as a starter. Leading his team to a 14-2 record and a second straight Super Bowl appearance, the 25-year-old quarterback has the game in the palm of his hand. There is no question that number 15 has all eyes on him this Sunday. Mahomes’ strongest asset is his long throwing range and accuracy, these traits are clearly represented by the 4,740 passing yards and the 38 touchdowns he threw this season. One of the best things you can pair a deep throwing QB with is a fast, deep threat wide receiver who can make defenders miss and effortlessly find his way into the endzone. Tyreek Hill checks all those boxes. Hill ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and has arguably gotten faster since that time was recorded. On top of that, his choppy strides and quick movements make defenders look foolish. Hill is Mahomes’ most dangerous weapon. The sports world gave him and Mahomes credit for saving the Chiefs during last year’s Super Bowl when the two connected for 44 yards on a 3rd and 15, down 10 in the fourth quarter. He hasn’t skipped a beat since then. This season Hill tallied over 1200 yards with 87 receptions, scoring 15 touchdowns. Kansas City also has one of the best tight ends in the National Football League, Travis Kelce. Coming off a historical season last year, he has kept up with the hype racking up 1,000 receiving yards in his fifth straight season with 11 touchdowns.
Key Players: Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans
21 seasons, 10 Super Bowls and 6 rings later, Tom Brady is still dominating the league. When Brady packed his bags from Boston and took his talents to the Buccaneers, he had something to prove: He was the root of the Patriots’ dynasty, not Belichick, not Kraft, not the Patriot way–Brady. The Buccaneers already had one of the most star-studded offenses in the league. Adding Brady to the mix gave the Buccaneers the alpha they needed to lead them to success. They have two all pro wide receivers in Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans. Coming off a great regular season, Evans has 70 receptions and over 1,000 yards . Likewise, Godwin put up over 800 yards with 65 receptions. Two incredible stars who have taken their games to the next level. On top of that, Brady has had the luxury of recruiting two old friends to the Buccaneers. Robert Gronkowski came out of retirement this season, and although he is well past his prime, he and Brady still have a connection that not many others possess. Wide receiver Antonio Brown has also made a serious effort at reviving his career. Coming back from a questionable past, Brown seems to have refocused his career on what should matter most: adding a Super Bowl ring to his long list of accolades.
Key Players: Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, and Chris Jones.
The Kansas City Chiefs are not only looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls in nearly two decades, but also to elevate their franchise to dynasty status. The person standing in the way of that is Brady, who led the dynasty in New England for 20 years. The defense’s goal should be to make this game the longest three hours of Brady’s life. The key to defeating Brady, like most quarterbacks, is to provide constant pressure and force him to make poor decisions inside the pocket. If the Chiefs’ pass rushers, starting with Chris Jones, who led the defense with seven pressures in the AFC championship, can get in Brady’s line of sight, they should find success. We generally think of Brady as a thrower who thrives on short and quick passes to slice his way up and down the field. While that’s still true, he’s also combined that style of play with Bruce Arians’ “chuck-it-deep” method, which does make things a bit tricky for Kansas City’s secondary. This year, Brady led the NFL with a career-high 9.4 air yards per attempt. That number has only increased in the playoffs with Brady averaging 11 air yards per attempt. Clearly, this is a preferred area of attack for Tampa Bay at the moment, but the Chiefs do have a strong history of defending the deep ball. The secondary is allowing the lowest completion percentage, TD-INT ratio, and passer rating of throws 10 yards or more downfield. If Brady and the Bucs continue to try to win with deep shots, Kansas City should be able to counteract it. The defense needs turnovers.
Key Players: Shaquil Barret, Vita Vea, Devin White, Lavonte David
This defense NEEDS to lock down the Chiefs WR core. Without a doubt this is easier said than done. The Buccaneers’ secondary had a nightmare of a performance against the Chiefs’ speedy wideouts earlier this year. Mahomes threw for 462 yards and three touchdowns, and star tight end Kelce caught eight passes for 82 yards. But it was Hill who stole the show, catching 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis had one of the worst games of his career, allowing nine receptions for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Getting beat this badly might actually be an advantage for the Buccaneers because they can learn and correct the errors they made against Kansas City the last time they played. Additionally, the Chiefs will not have either of their two starting offensive tackles in the Super Bowl due to injury. In the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, Shaquil Barrett sacked Aaron Rodgers three times while Jason Pierre-Paul got to him twice. Hopefully Vita Vea gets the start this Sunday, as he provides an invaluable push on the inside that opens up the edge for the Bucs’ talented pass rushers even more so.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The big game will have an identical finish to last year’s Super Bowl: Mahomes standing on the podium hoisting his second straight Lombardi Trophy and further solidifying himself as an all-time great at such a young age. The Chiefs have beaten every single one of their opponents this season. In fact, we’ve already seen both of these teams face off against each other earlier this year. Week 12 featured the Chiefs sneaking past the Buccaneers at Tampa with a win, showing us the full potential of their star quarterback and wide receiver duo. Mahomes threw touchdown after touchdown to Tyreek Hill. Hill’s olympic level speed was something that just could not be matched by the Buccaneers, and the stat sheets prove it. Hill caught 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. We expect this to be no different in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are a potent offense, and no matter how good the Buccaneer’s defense is, we expect them to be bested by the Chiefs.