Super Bowl LV: Chiefs versus Bucs, Brady goes for his seventh ring

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) in the 55th Super Bowl played in Tampa, Florida. Tampa is the first team in NFL history to play in A Super Bowl in its home stadium.

This game features a battle of two quarterbacks who have never had a losing season in their careers as starters. In his 21 seasons, Tom Brady has only experienced a losing season from the bench as a rookie during the 2000 season for the Patriots and Mahomes in four seasons has only lost eight games overall.

Tom Brady will now become the first player in NFL history to have played in 10 Super Bowls, as well as being the oldest person to play for the Lombardi Trophy at age 43. In his first season with the Bucs, Brady, the longtime Patriot, took the team from seven wins to 11 after winning the last four games of the season and overall have won seven in a row.

On the opposing side of the field, the young lion Patrick Mahomes has led the Chiefs to its second straight trip to the very same Super Bowl that the team won last year with a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs are on its own 10 game win streak.

Kansas City Coach Andy Reid appears in his second straight Super Bowl and is 1-1 in the big game. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians makes his first appearance as a head coach in the Super Bowl after his second season with the team.

Here is my positional group breakdown of the game.

Quarterbacks-Even

In a battle of greatest of all-time versus greatest right now, it is tough to say which team has the advantage at the position. If it comes down to who has the best skills, it’s a no brainer with Mahomes as the clear winner, but Brady continues to defy the odds and knows how to take advantage of his weapons. Being the goat is not just about tools.

Running backs- Even

Neither team has a dominant running game, but the Chiefs had a slightly more effective running game than the Bucs. The combo of the young speedster Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Wiley veteran Leveon Bell make a set of backs for Kansas City. Leonard Fournette has been up and down for the season and  Ronald Jones has been inconsistent while rushing for 978 yards. Both teams have backs that catch the ball well out of the backfield and can get the after the catch “yack” yards. Depth, health and online play favor the Bucs.

Receivers- Eventh

Kansa City has the fastest group of wide receivers and the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce. Coming off his best season as a pro, Kelce had 105 receptions for 1416 yards with 11 TDs. Tyreek Hill is coming off a career-best 15 touchdown season and torched the Bills secondary in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs have gotten inconsistent production from its other receiving spot but are very deep at receiver. The Bucs may have the best wide receiver combination in the league, with Mike Evans coming off his seventh straight 1000 yard receiving campaign and Chris Godwin putting up 840 yards in an injury-plagued year. Antonio Brown has come back into form after bouncing around the league for a season, getting in trouble and all-around not being good. At TE, the Bucs have Rob Gronkowski, who at times this season has looked washed up but overall has shown to be a valuable asset getting into the end zone seven times.

Offensive line- Bucs big advantage

The Chiefs have lost three significant starters over the season, with left tackle Eric Fisher being lost in the championship game against Buffalo. Considering the lack of stability on the line, pass protection has been reliable for Mahomes. His mobility helps the line out quite a bit of the time. Fisher’s loss will be a huge one, though and the line is quite patchworked at this point. Mike Remmers, Fisher’s replacement, has played on the right side most of his career but will step in as the left tackle for the big game. The Bucs offensive line has kept the 43-year-old Brady upright all season with only 21 sacks and has been much improved with rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs on the right and six-year starters Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet on the left side.

Defensive line- Bucs

Both Frank Clark and Chris Jones were named to their second straight pro bowl for the Chiefs and they provide all of the pass rush for the team. As a team, the Chiefs are much more susceptible to the run, but the offense has been so good that few teams had time to establish the run before they had to pass almost every down. The Bucs run a 3-4 with immovable objects Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea occupying blockers, which frees up other players like Jason Pierre Paul, who had 9.5 sacks other linebackers to put more pressure on the quarterback. The Bucs line is the best in the league at stopping the run and has only given up more than 100 yards five times this season, holding opposing backs to 3.6 yards a carry

Linebackers-Bucs big advantage

Both Kansas City and the Buccaneers have major issues covering running backs out of the backfield. The Chiefs have given up the second-most yards receiving to running backs and the Bucs have given up the most receptions to running backs in the league. The Bucs’ significant advantage is its linebackers’ ability to get to the quarterback due to the defensive line. Devin White had nine sacks and Shaquil Barret had eight sacks this season. White and Lavonte David have also been all over the field this season, with both players having more than 117 tackles for the year.

Defensive Backs-Chiefs

The Chiefs run an aggressive pass defense that has only given up 246 yards a game even though teams are often playing catch-up most of the game. ALL PRO strong Safety Tyrone Mathieu has been the key to the secondary all season with his stellar play and six interceptions. The Chiefs play press coverage for most of its defensive snaps and blitzes quite a bit to aid its pass rush. The Bucs have a young and talented secondary that underperformed at times while giving up a 67% completion percentage. Carlton Davis is the top ball hawk with four interceptions and the safeties Antonio Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead are playmakers.

Special Teams- Even

Both teams have solid kickers and punter. Harrison Butker and Ryan Succop make a high percentage of their kicks, with Butker being better from 50 yards plus. Both punters kick for a solid average and have an excellent ability to drop the ball down deep within their opponent’s 20-yard line. Neither team has a stellar return game, although the Chiefs Byron Pringle did return a kick for a TD this season. Both teams have subpar punt returners.

Coaching-Chiefs slight advantage

In a battle of offensive-minded coaches, Kansas City coach Andy Reid with his two decades of head coaching experience has to have the advantage over Tampa’s Bruce Arians, who is in his first trip to the Super Bowl as a head coach. Especially with Tampa Bay. Arians does have super bowl experience as a coordinator for both the Steelers and Colts. Arians was the head coach for most of the Colts 2012 season, going 9-3. Both teams have two of the best young offensive coordinators in the league, with Byron Leftwich for the Bucs and Eric Bieniemy, the uncle of UTEP point guard Jamal Bieniemy. Both teams have equally impressive defensive coordinators in Kansas City’s Steve Spagnola and Tampa’s Todd Bowles

Slight advantage chiefs

Prediction

Tampa Bay 31 Kansas City 28

Overall, the Buccaneers have a better defense and its pass rush will be vital in pulling out a win. The Chiefs lost its third and most important starter on the offensive line, its left tackle and this gives the Bucs defense a significant area to exploit. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times in the NFL championship game and the Bucs defense harassed Drew Brees into three interceptions the previous week. The Bucs defense is a game-changer with its front three and pass rush that creates turnovers. Kansas City has elite level weapons at tight end and wide receiver along with the best quarterback in the league. The Bucs mature defense and better consistency of the offensive weapons, I believe will overcome the Chiefs offensive juggernaut and get just enough pressure on Mahomes to win.

The Superbowl airs 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 on CBS.

 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]