After 20 weeks of NFL action, the pinnacle of the sport is finally here. On Sunday evening, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. The Chiefs are looking to win their second-straight Super Bowl, while the Bucs are trying to win their second-ever Super Bowl in franchise history.
What has been a common theme in this year’s playoffs, this game is a rematch from the regular season. In Week 12, the Chiefs defeated the Bucs 27-24 in Tampa, thanks to historic performances from both quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The dynamic wideout had 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns. As for Mahomes, he was 37-of-49 for 462 yards and three touchdowns.
On the Buccaneers’ sideline, Tom Brady put up big numbers with 345 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Tampa Bay understands that they cannot have multiple turnovers and also not allow Hill to beat them over the top consistently on Sunday evening. If they do both of those things they might have a chance.
Here, I break down why I like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win at home in Super Bowl 55 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
For the Bucs to win their second-ever Lombardi Trophy, a lot of people will look towards the offense and Tom Brady. Brady has played well over the second half of the season and usually does not disappoint in the Super Bowl. But for the Buccaneers, it starts with a defense that has been very opportunistic during their postseason run. In three playoff games, Tampa Bay’s defense has recorded seven takeaways. A majority of the turnovers (four) came against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional round.
In their first meeting in Week 12, the Buccaneers’ defense produced one turnover, but allowed over 500 yards of total offense. That is not a recipe for success and cannot be duplicated on Sunday evening.
Therefore, we should expect Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to apply pressure to Mahomes. But that might not happen with the blitz as Mahomes is very good throwing against it. According to Football Outsiders, the Bucs blitzed Mahomes 12 times in Week 12, which he turned into 9.3 yards per play with 87.6 percent DVOA. This season, Mahomes has a DVOA of 78.2 percent against the blitz.
Thankfully, the Buccaneers won’t have to send extra guys since they have a stout defensive line that can apply pressure up the middle and on the edges. The battle on the edge will be something to keep an eye out for as the Chiefs are without starting tackle Eric Fisher due to a torn Achilles. Without Fisher, Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett must be able to find his way into the Chiefs’ backfield.
Along with the defensive line, there will also be a lot of pressure on Lavonte David and Devin White at linebacker and the secondary to not give up the big play. Neither linebacker is great at covering tight ends, but will have to keep an eye on the whomever is coming out of the backfield for Kansas City — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le’Veon Bell, or Darrel Williams.
White has been a part of a lot of big plays and turnovers this postseason and if he can create a big play that will go a long way in winning on Sunday. As for the Buccaneers’ offense, they should be at full strength with Antonio Brown practicing over the last couple of days.
In their Week 12 matchup, Brown only had two receptions (three targets) for 11 yards as he was still trying to figure out his role in the Bucs’ offense. Since that game, Brown ended the regular season with 25 receptions (33 targets) for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He could be the x-factor for the Bucs’ in the slot, while Chris Godwin and Mike Evans command more of the attention on the perimeter.
Lastly, you have to factor in the Bucs’ running game led by Leonard Fournette and the play of Tom Brady. Outside of the Brady’s ugly second half against the Packers, he’s been solid in the previous 10 quarters. This season, the 43-year-old quarterback has had eight games of 300-plus passing yards.
Granted, Brady has not had to do this in the postseason, but we know he is capable against a Chiefs’ defense that is giving up 236.2 passing yards per game. But where the Bucs can keep it close is on the ground with Playoff Lenny.
Fournette is averaging 70.3 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry in the Bucs’ three playoff games. This season, the Chiefs’ run defense is giving up 122.1 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. If Tampa can effectively run the ball with Fournette and Ronald Jones to create some big passing plays that will dictate the pace and ultimately the score of the game.