Who has the advantage heading into the Super Bowl? We break down the Buccaneers and Chiefs rosters, position by position to see who has the edge.
Buccaneers: Tom Brady
Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes
Hey, I don’t know if any of you guys are aware, but Tom Brady has won six super bowls! Crazy, right? Okay, now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about the present. Brady has been surprisingly good this season after his move to the south, no doubt that this is partially due to an upgrade in weapons and scheme.
The biggest change in Brady’s game this year is the aggressiveness in pushing the ball downfield. Brady’s yards per attempt increased by a full yard from his last season in New England. With the aggressiveness has come more touchdowns, Brady threw for the second-highest touchdown total (40) in his career at age 43.
Mahomes has been every bit Brady’s equal with half of the interceptions. He simply doesn’t have bad games. While Brady has had a remarkable season for his age, he struggles under pressure (30th rated passer when pressured) and is not a threat to make plays with his legs. Mahomes is one of the best pure scramblers in the league when a play breaks down and is the top-rated passer in the league when pressured. Both players are elite, but one has the clear cut advantage.
Buccaneers: Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette
Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrell Williams and Le’Veon Bell
This offseason, the Buccaneers turned heads when they signed former top-five pick Leonard Fournette. Though the acquisition was highly touted, he has struggled to find his way onto the field until the playoffs.
For a large majority of the season, Ronald Jones was the lead back and played well. He came close to rushing for 1000 yards but was sidelined with an injury. Both Jones and Fournette can run up the middle, break runs outside and kind of catch passes. Jones has dropped five passes this season and Fournette has dropped seven.
For the Chiefs, their rushing attack might not be as top-heavy, but it is deeper. If Le’Veon Bell is healthy for the Super Bowl the Chiefs have three playmakers out of the backfield who can all take meaningful snaps. They also present a threat in the passing game which could be key to mitigate the pass rush of Tampa. All three Chiefs running backs have combined for fewer total drops then Ronald Jones. The matchup is very close, but the Chiefs’ depth puts them over the top.
Buccaneers: Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate
Chiefs: Travis Kelce and Nick Keizer
Travis Kelce might be the second or third best player in this game after the quarterbacks, as he has continued to absolutely dominate any team or player that is tasked with stopping him.
However, Tampa has two tight ends that can both make plays as receivers. Gronk at this point is much more of a blocking tight end who makes some occasional offensive plays despite his a 100-yard game against KC earlier in the year.
Cameron Brate has become a favorite target of Brady in the clutch and though Gronk has the better numbers, Brate can be a backbreaker when it comes to big plays. Kelce is so dominant, but Nick Keizer cannot be in the same conversation as Gronk and Brate.
Buccaneers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson
Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson
If Tom Brady is limited to a small point total in the game, there can be zero conversation about him not having enough help. The Bucs wide receiver core is truly one of the best the NFL has seen. Depending on how you view Mike Evans trajectory and Antonio Brown’s off the field issues, they at least have two Hall of Famers lining up at wide receiver.
Even their secondary receivers Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson are good pieces. Brown has really started to carve out his role in the offense, since their Week 13 bye he has had five TDs and 325 yards. Tyreek Hill of course deserves to be mentioned in this conversation, he has been tremendous all season long and has dominated the post-season. Kansas City’s offense runs through Hill and Kelce, they could really use a healthy Sammy Watkins and more big plays from Mecole Hardman.
Buccaneers: Tristan Wrifs, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa and Donovan Smith
Chiefs: Mike Remmers, Nick Allegretti, Austin Rieter, Stefan Wisniewski and Andrew Wylie
The Chiefs are down their two best offensive linemen in Mitch Schwartz and Eric Fisher, and their right guard opted out to fight the pandemic as a doctor. Their left guard suffered a season-ending injury in Week five. It doesn’t take much to have the advantage over this current configuration of the Chiefs offensive line. The Buccaneers have a strong offensive line centered around their bright young star in Tristan Wirfs. The Buccaneers have a very healthy and consistent line headed into the big game.
Buccaneers: Jason Pieree-Paul, Shaq Barrett, Anthony Nelson, Ndamkong Suh and Vita Vea
Chiefs: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton, and Alex Okafor
Alot has been made this week of the dominance of the Bucs pass rush and while this maybe true the best defensive linemen in this game is a Chief.
Chris Jones is by far the best pass rusher and overall defensive lineman in this game as for the rest of the Chiefs line they don’t quite stack up.
The Bucs just have so much depth along the line that can keep their pass rushers fresh for passing downs. Additionally, players like Vea and Suh make running the ball more or less impossible.
Buccaneers: Devin White and Lavonte David
Chiefs: Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson
Anthony Hitchens has had a sneaky good season for Kansas City and so has Damien Wilson. They haven’t been game-breakers, by any means, but their consistency against the run and covering passes out of the backfield has improved from 2019. However, the Bucs probably have the best linebacking duo in the NFL.
Devin White has had a great postseason with some huge interceptions and fumble recoveries. The truly underrated part of the Bucs defense is Lavonte David, who is a true three-down linebacker and is excellent in pass coverage. The Buccaneers have a huge strength with their linebackers.
Buccaneers: Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean
Chiefs: L’Jarius Sneed, Baushaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward
The public perception of the Chiefs is that they are an all offense team who has a weak defense. This is of course is not true, the Chiefs defense has elevated itself through the play of their corners. What makes Kansas City’s corners so good is there is no weak link. They are able to put four corners on the field and trust them in man-on-man coverage.
As the week 12 match-up showed Tampa does have weak links among their corners. Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy- Bunting have struggled all season.
Buccaneers: Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards
Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorenson and Juan Thornhill
The Buccaneers’ safeties have struggled with health this post-season. Winfield missed the NFC Championship with an ankle injury and Whitehead left with a shoulder injury. With the re-emergence of Juan Thornhill and the always elevated play of Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs have three healthy safeties who can all make big plays in coverage and in defending the run. Daniel Sorenson is also a great chess piece for Steve Spagnuolo who utilizes him as a linebacker at times as well. The secondary is a big advantage for the Chiefs defense.
Buccaneers: Ryan Succop and Bradley Pinion
Chiefs: Harrison Butker and Tommy Townsend
Former Chief Ryan Succop has had a great season making 91% of his field goals and 90% of his extra points. Harrison Butker has been dynamic at times and disappointing at other times, his inconsistency makes it hard to give the Chiefs the edge. Mecole Hardman’s struggles in the return game also can be a cause for concern. Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub will have to have his unit ready to go on Sunday.
Takeaway: Any narrative that Patrick Mahomes has “all of this help” really cannot be had at this point. Tom Brady has weapons all over the place and has a great defense to go along with it. But then again it takes a lot of courage to leave a franchise you’ve won six championships with to get more money, more support, and more control. The Chiefs are the heavy favorites though because they have the advantages where it matters most: quarterback, coach, and weapons.