The Super Bowl is nearly upon us, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers getting ready to try to finish off their season with a victory. There is so much to analyze in this matchup, that we figured it wouldn’t be fair to let just one person give their prediction. So we decided that each of our writers would get their own say. Each writer provides their own answer to five questions about the Super Bowl, including their prediction for who will come out on top.
How will the Kansas City Chiefs win this game?
Bret Nascimento: Protect Mahomes – This is the most important thing for the Chiefs and if they can’t do this they’ll likely be on the losing side at the end of the game. It’s looking like the Chiefs will be without Pro Bowl Left Tackle Eric Fisher and All-Pro Right Tackle Mitchell Schwartz. In their previous matchup against the Bucs, Mahomes was sacked twice, but that was with both Fisher and Schwartz protecting him. Even if the Chiefs fall behind, they’ve shown in the past that they are never out of the game, as they have the ability to score with big plays more frequently than any other team in the league. There’s a possibility for the Chiefs to look to throw short and intermediate passes to get the ball out of Mahomes hands quicker than usual with their top two tackles inactive. Another important thing to monitor throughout the game is the health of Patrick Mahomes, as he has been dealing with turf toe. It’s pretty obvious that he won’t be 100% healthy, so it will be interesting to see if it affects his performance.
Matt Skillings: Defense limits the Bucs offense – The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl if their defense can stand their ground and hold the Buccaneers offense to under 24 points. The Chiefs have already shown that their offense can’t be contained by any defense and as long as Patrick Mahomes is playing up to his full capability, it’s hard to see them scoring under 28 points on the biggest stage. If the Chiefs can keep Tom Brady from getting into a groove, they could run away with this one. That won’t be an easy task by any means, but if this game turns into a shootout, it could really go either way. The defense is the key for the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl against a strong Tampa Bay offense.
Nate Crisafulli: Protect the ball – The Chiefs will win this game if they are able to protect the ball and limit turnovers. The Buccaneers defense has forced a ton of turnovers this year, especially in the playoffs, and Brady and the offense have cashed in on those extra opportunities. In the last two games, Tampa Bay has forced six turnovers and turned five of them into the touchdowns. The one they didn’t score on was used to ice the game against the New Orleans Saints. Mahomes and Co. will have to be careful when moving the ball as Tampa’s opportunistic defense will be looking to get Brady any extra possessions they can. If they protect the ball their red hot offense will most likely be able to outscore the Bucs.
Owen Crisafulli: Let Mahomes cook – The Chiefs path to victory seems pretty clear. If they can get Mahomes rolling, they will have a good shot to come away as the first repeat champions in nearly 20 years. The Chiefs invested in making their ground game a better complement to Mahomes, but the results have been mediocre this season to say the least. With Mahomes under center though, the Chiefs don’t really need a run game. The Chiefs have rode Mahomes to another Super Bowl appearance, and there’s no reason to stop now. If Mahomes can throw for 300 yards and 3 scores, the Chiefs will have a good shot at victory.
Ryan Whitley: Limit Brady, create turnovers – The Chiefs will win as long as their defense keeps the game close. If Kansas City’s D, led by Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu, can keep the Chiefs in the game, their talent on the offensive side of the ball should lead them to victory. If they manage to take the ball away from Tampa, giving their offense a short field to work with, that’s even better. Keeping the Tom Brady-led Bucs under 30 points should be enough for the Chiefs to capture their second straight title. Brady knows how to put the ball in the endzone, however, so this will be no easy task.
How will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win this game?
Bret: Get to Mahomes and keep him in the pocket – The Bucs defense has to take advantage of both the Chiefs offensive tackles being out of this game and dial up blitzes on the edge while not allowing Mahomes to step up and get out of the pocket. Look for Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to do just that and hopefully use the extra time between games to create some new defensive schemes that will cause trouble for Mahomes and the backup tackles for the Chiefs. If they are able to limit Mahomes time in the pocket it will be harder for the Chiefs to establish any type of rhythm offensively. If the Buccaneers opt to send pressure without having help in coverage, they have to be able to get to Mahomes quickly to ensure the home run plays to Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman aren’t available. Even with all of that, the Buccaneers will have to watch the screen game of the Chiefs offensive weapons, so they have quite a tall task ahead of them.
Matt: Tom Brady – The Bucs will win if Tom Brady brings some of his Super Bowl magic to the game. There’s no question that the Chiefs are favored in this game, but that is exactly what motivates Brady. He has proved time and time again that he can’t be underestimated, especially when it comes to big games. If Brady can keep pace with Mahomes, there’s no reason to expect a blowout. In fact, it should be a close game, as long as Brady is able to keep the Bucs within 10 points of the Chiefs at all times.
Nate: Get the ground game going – The Bucs will win this game if they are able to establish the run game and dominate the time of possession. The weak spot of the Chiefs defense this whole year has been their run defense. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they are usually playing with a lead, so teams have to try and pass their way back into the game. In the Chiefs only real loss of the season, the Las Vegas Raiders were able to run all over them and dominate time of possession, and the Bucs should try to follow this blueprint. If Tampa is able to get either Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones going, they will be able to beat up a weak run defense and keep Mahomes off the field.
Owen: Contain the Chiefs weapons – You cannot expect to stop the Chiefs offense completely throughout an entire game. The Chiefs just have too many weapons, and one of the best quarterbacks in the game who will find ways to get them the ball. Teams that can find ways to contain their weapons have had the most success. The Bucs defense has been a large reason why they find themselves in the Super Bowl, and they will need to have their best performance on the biggest stage. It doesn’t have to be the entire game, but if the Bucs can force the Chiefs to have a scoreless quarter or half, that makes a difficult task that much easier.
Ryan: Don’t let up – To win this game, Tampa is going to have to play as if they’re behind. This Chiefs team has a reputation at this point for having slow starts in the playoffs before turning up the heat and pulling away to win. In last seasons playoffs, the Chiefs trailed by 10+ points in every game, and yet they still managed to make it to the Super Bowl and win. For the Bucs to win, they’ll have to keep piling on points even if they do manage to jump out to an early lead. No deficit is too large for an offense that is as stacked as the Chiefs. So Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski will have to keep scoring, even if they think that they’ve done enough to win.
What is going to be the Key Matchup of the Game?
Bret: Chiefs Offensive Tackles vs. Buccaneers Pass Rush – As previously mentioned, the Chiefs are going to be without two of their top linemen against the Bucs pass rush, a unit that just posted five sacks against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Kansas City will need their backups to step up big time in the game. Mahomes may be forced to stray away from deep passes if the pass rush can get to him, which could have an impact on Tyreek Hill’s performance. Earlier this season when the two faced off, Hill went off for 269 yards and three TDs, so if the Bucs can get pressure on Mahomes, they could limit the Chiefs dangerous passing attack.
Matt: Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes – The matchup between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes is going to be exciting to watch. Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time at the moment, but Mahomes absolutely has the potential to enter the conversation later in his career. He can strengthen his case if he is able to beat Brady, and this could be the last chance he gets, as Tom Brady won’t be in the league too much longer. It’ll be hard to make a case for Mahomes to be the greatest quarterback of all time if he gets beat by Brady, regardless of how many championships he gets in the future. This will absolutely be the highlight of the game, seeing the quarterback play from both sides.
Nate: The line battle on both sides of the ball – If the Chiefs offensive line can give Patrick Mahomes a clean pocket, he will be able to torch the secondary like he did when these two teams faced off in the regular season. Tampa will need to apply pressure on Mahomes to make him uncomfortable and hopefully force a turnover to give the offense an extra possession. On the other side of the ball, it has been well known that the way to beat Brady is to get pressure on him. If the Bucs O-line can not only protect him, but do a good job run blocking, Tampa’s offense will be tough to stop. However that is no small task, as both Chris Jones and Frank Clark have been great at disrupting passers all season, and will look to do so again this Sunday.
Owen: Travis Kelce vs. Lavonte David/Devin White – While everyone will look at the regular season matchup between these two squads and marvel over Tyreek Hill’s absurd numbers, Travis Kelce has flown under the radar in the buildup this week. Kelce is Mahomes security blanket, and if the Bucs somehow manage to take away the deep throws, they still have to worry about Kelce underneath. Kelce will have a tough task in front of him, as Lavonte David and Devin White have developed into one of the most dangerous linebacker duos in the NFL. Both can hold their own in coverage, and they will have to hold their own if they find themselves lined up against Kelce. Whether it’s man or zone coverage, these two are going to be the main line of defense on Kelce, and it could prove to be the difference in the game.
Ryan: Tyreek Hill vs Carlton Davis – If Tyreek Hill has another game like he had when these two teams faced earlier this season, then the NFL might as well just start engraving Kansas City in the side of the Lombardi Trophy right now. Securing 13 catches for 269 yards and 3 TD’s, Hill had one of the best games by a wide receiver in the last ten years. If he does anything even remotely close to that again, Tampa has no shot of winning this game. To contain this prolific Chiefs offense, Bucs CB Carlton Davis will have to have the game of his life, as he’ll be matched up with Hill for most of the game. But even when he isn’t, Kansas City has so many other weapons that Davis will never be able to take a snap off. If he has a great game, then Tampa may be able to snag this win, but if Hill dominates again, it will be a near-impossible uphill battle.
Who will be the Key Player of the Game?
Bret: LB Devin White, TB – The young linebacker has amazing instincts already in his second year and has displayed that in this playoff run by the Bucs. He’s been playing out of his mind after missing the Bucs Wild Card game against the Washington Football Team, and he will need to continue that on Sunday. Look for White to try and disrupt Mahomes and the Chiefs offense in the game as much as possible.
Matt: S Tyrann Mathieu, KC – Mathieu is the heart and soul of the Chiefs defense, and he is going to be the key player in the game. The Bucs passing game is their strength and they will for sure be leaning towards that for the better part of this game. Mathieu is key for the Chiefs being able to shut down the Bucs passing game, especially Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Nate: RBs Leonard Fournette and/or Ronald Jones, TB – If either one of these running backs gets going, Kansas City could have a rough game. Jones was the primary ball carrier in the regular season, but Fournette has taken over that role in the playoffs. Expect Fournette to get the majority of the carries, but if Jones has the hot hand they will definitely roll with him. If the Bucs can move the ball on the ground, it will open up the play action game, so Brady can get those chunk plays when Kansas City stacks the box. It will also keep Mahomes off the field, which is the best way to keep him from scoring points.
Owen: QB Tom Brady, TB – Brady will be the key player to watch in this game, but not for the reason many people will think. Throughout this postseason, Brady hasn’t really had to do much quite frankly. The defense has done a lot of the dirty work, setting Brady up with a ton of short fields, which Brady has converted into easy points. Despite that, Brady did his best to let the Packers sneak back into their Championship bout, and struggled for most of the second half. Brady will need to have a huge game for the Bucs to come out on top. The problem is that based on what we’ve seen through these playoffs, Brady having a big game is not something that is set in stone.
Ryan: RB Ronald Jones, TB – Ronald Jones might be able to play a big role in this game. Tampa won’t lean on him to shoulder that heavy of a load, (why would they when Tom Brady is their QB?) but they’ll need him to be effective at the very least. Brady is at his best when the running game can take a little pressure off and at least open up the possibility of a running play being thrown in among the sea of passing attempts. Also, the Buccaneers would do well to control the clock in this game. We all know that the Chiefs can put up monster numbers on the scoreboard, so limiting how many times they get the ball is important if you want to beat them, which very few teams have done in the past two years. So, if Jones can have a good day on the ground, maybe 85-100 yards, Tampa’s chances of winning drastically increase.
Alright, give us your prediction for the game
Bret: Chiefs – 31 Buccaneers – 27 Mahomes will be able to overcome the defensive strength of the Buccaneers and edge out Brady in their head to head record while getting himself a second Super Bowl at only 25 years old. Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo held the 18-0 Patriots led by Brady to 14 points in the 2007 Super Bowl as the Giants defensive coordinator, and he will draw up a defensive gameplan that prevents Brady from getting his seventh Super Bowl victory. Tyreek Hill will just be too much for the Buccaneers defense to handle, and be a key piece to the victory as well.
Matt: Chiefs – 38 Buccaneers – 31 The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl behind three passing touchdowns and 300+ passing yards from Mahomes. The Bucs offense will keep them in the game down to the final seconds, but the Chiefs offense will prove to be too much for Tampa’s defense.
Nate: Buccaneers – 38 Chiefs – 35 Tampa will come out and get an early lead and use the ground game to limit the amount of possessions the Chiefs will get in the first half. The Chiefs won’t be contained the whole game though and Mahomes will make a second half surge to take the lead late in the game. However, Brady will have enough time left on the clock to drive the Bucs down the field and throw the game winning touchdown to get his seventh championship ring.
Owen: Buccaneers – 41 Chiefs – 37 For much of this season, I have doubted the Bucs ability to win at all. I was certain the Bucs didn’t stand a chance against the Saints and Packers, but as they’ve done throughout most of the season, they proved me wrong. In doing so, the Bucs have proved why they stand the best chance at preventing the Chiefs from being repeat champions. Their defense may not be the flashiest unit in the league, but they have been the most opportunistic since the playoffs started. They won’t stop Mahomes and the Chiefs, but they will come up with a turnover late in the fourth quarter to prevent Mahomes from leading a game-winning drive, and the Bucs win a shootout.
Ryan: Chiefs – 31 Buccaneers – 24 This is going to be a great game. While all the focus is rightly on the offenses, both of these teams think that their defense is not given enough credit. They’ll both have their work cut out for them against the quarterbacks and receivers that will be on the field across from them. In the end, though, this game will be won on offense and I just don’t see the Chiefs consistently getting stopped by the Tampa D. There’s too much talent and after last year’s run, Patrick Mahomes knows how to win at this stage, which can never be understated. Although it will be close, and as hard as it is to bet against the GOAT, I’ve got the Chiefs pulling out the win to grab their second straight title.
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