On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the field on the grandest stage of them all in a battle for the ages. It is The GOAT vs. The Kid; the old vs the present and future.
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes meet again. After four exciting and epic battles, the war lies ahead at Raymond James Stadium. Super Bowl LV will be the fifth time the two stars have faced off.
Brady won the first two matchups, both being in 2018. In Week 6 of that season, the New England Patriots clashed with the Chiefs in Foxborough, winning 43-40. Mahomes threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns with Brady throwing for 340 yards and one touchdown.
The two foes would later meet again in the AFC Championship Game. Kansas City had the victory in their hands with an interception from Charvarious Ward, but the infamous neutral zone infraction from Dee Ford kept the Patriots alive. With late-game heroics from Mahomes and the offense, the game went to overtime. The Patriots got the ball to start and ended it with a TD, and Brady would go on to win ring No. 6.
However, Mahomes and the Chiefs have bounced back by winning the last two matchups. The Chiefs won in Foxborough in 2019, defeating the Pats 23-16. That win would be the last time Mahomes would face Brady as a Patriot.
In Week 12 of the regular season this year, the Chiefs traveled to Tampa Bay and defeated the Bucs by a score of 27-24. Mahomes and Hill were on the fire in the first quarter, connecting twice deep downfield for scores. For the second time this season, Kansas City travels to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers, but this is for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Kansas City Chiefs
To go along with Mahomes, the Chiefs have one of the best arsenals in the entire NFL. Travis Kelce continued his historic streak with his fifth-straight season with 1,000 receiving yards. His season has been the best ever by a tight end, setting the record for the most receiving yards by a TE in a single-season with 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns. Kelce, along with another top weapon, was named a First-Team All-Pro.
Don’t forget about the most dangerous weapon in the NFL: Tyreek Hill. Hill has continued to prove why he is one of the best wide receivers in the league, recording over 1,200 yards receiving and a career-high 15 touchdowns. For the third time in his five-year career, Hill was named a First-Team All-Pro.
As for the defense, First-Team All-Pro safety, Tyrann Mathieu, has been at the top of his game. He set a career-high in interceptions with six, to pair with his nine passes defended. He, alongside defensive tackle Chris Jones, have become the two leaders and anchors of the Chiefs defense.
Rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed has been a difference-maker for the defense. He was the top-rated rookie cornerback in the NFL this season, according to PFF. He has done it all for the Chiefs this year in coverage and as a blitzer, recording three interceptions, seven passes defended, and four sacks (playoffs included).
The Chiefs are one win away from being the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. This is the start of the next NFL dynasty and who better to beat to solidify it than the man who led the last dynasty- Tom Brady?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady has arguably the best arsenal in the NFL around him. In the backfield, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette have become a dynamic duo for the rushing attack. Jones set career-highs with 978 rushing yards and seven scores. Fournette has been the lead back this postseason with over 300 total yards and three touchdowns.
At the receiver position, Tampa Bay has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Scotty Miller who have each had their own impacts on the season. Evans eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. Godwin, Brown, and Miller combined for over 1,800 yards and 14 touchdowns as well.
Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to be traded from New England and join Brady on the Bucs. He eclipsed 600 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. It took the two some time to get going, but thymes have found their connection and are looking dangerous again.
The defense has been dominant up front all year long. The linebacking core of up and coming star Devin White, along with Lavonte David and playoff stars Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. They have key pieces to Todd Bowles’ unit that ranked fourth in the league in sacks with 48.
In the secondary, rookie safety Antoine Winfield has been key at the back end with 94 tackles and three sacks. Jamel Dean has been the best corner on the team, ratings one of the best cornerbacks in coverage against receivers with a grade over 80, according to PFF. Sean Murphy-Bunting has hit his stride the past few weeks with an interception in each of the three playoff games.
The Buccaneers set history becoming the first team to play on their home turf in the Super Bowl. Now, can they avenge their last loss and beat the Chiefs to win their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 season.
What to Watch
Chiefs Offensive Line vs. Buccaneers Pash Rush: The Chiefs offensive line has been beaten and battered the entire season. Early on in the regular season, the team lost starting right guard, Kelechi Osemele, and right tackle, Mitchell Schwartz. On top of that, starting left tackle, Eric Fisher, tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship game against Buffalo. The Chiefs are without three of their starting five linemen from the start of the season.
Now, it is up to Mike Remmers, Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie, and Martinas Rankin to slow down on the most potent pass rush attacks in the league. A key for the Buccaneers to win is to get pressure on Mahomes and with a newly-constructed offensive line, they could succeed in that aspect. Remmers and Allegretti have been starters for weeks and played well, but Remmers has to move to left guard with the loss of Fisher. The Chiefs need to keep Mahomes protected and they have an instant advantage throughout the game.
Tyreek Hill vs. Jamel Dean: In the Week 12 matchup, Jamel Dean did not play for Tampa Bay, leaving Carlton Davis to cover Hill. Well, that didn’t go to well as Hill set career-highs with 13 receptions for 269 yards and three scores. In the first quarter of that game, Hill caught eight passes for 203 yards and two scores.
On Sunday, Dean will be active and guarding Hill. As said earlier, Dean is the best corner on the Bucs roster and has been very good against top wide receivers throughout the season. Will the Chiefs attack Dean and look for Hill, or will they look to get other guys involved early like Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman? Regardless, Hill is going to have an impact on the game, but the level of impact will depend on how Dean performs against the All-Pro.
Sunday marks the finale of a season like no other. It is impressive to think that we have made it to Super Bowl LV with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all of the hiccups and trouble throughout the season, we have made it to the last final game. It will be a game for the ages and potentially the final clash between Brady and Mahomes.
Tom Brady is one win away from ring No. 7. Can he get past the future of the NFL and Big Red to get it? It has been said by multiple analysts throughout the country that Patrick Mahomes needs to beat Tom Brady on Sunday or he will never pass him as the greatest quarterback of all time. In 2018, it was said that the passing of the torch would come with Mahomes beating Brady in the AFC Championship Game. Could Super Bowl LV be the passing of the torch as the future of the NFL continues to take over?