Super Bowl LV Preview

February 6, 2021
Aditya Sheth

Setting the Stage

Super Bowl LV kicks off this Sunday at 3:30 PM between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Chiefs are looking to “run it back” as Super Bowl Champions headlined by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to an AFC best 14-2 record. On the other side is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is led by the GOAT Tom Brady, who willed the Bucs to two upsets in the playoffs over Drew Brees’ Saints and the one seeded Packers led by MVP front runner Aaron Rodgers. I am going to be breaking down each team and the things you should be looking forward to in the big game.

Breaking down the Kansas City Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs are the representatives of the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl and are attempting to win back to back Super Bowls for the first time in franchise history. Patrick Mahomes (aka the 500 million dollar quarterback) has played an enormous role in leading the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl as he threw for 4,740 yards to go along with a 38 to 6 TD:INT ratio during the regular season. He almost has no weaknesses to his game and has transcended the quarterback position. But the Chiefs have much more talent outside of Mahomes and that starts with All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce had a monster 2020 campaign shattering the receiving yards record with 1,416 to pair along with 11 TDs. WR Tyreek Hill (aka the Cheetah) accompanies Kelce as one of the most dangerous weapons in the entire league. Hill torched defenses all year accounting for 1,276 yards and 15 TDs. Look out for these three during the game because a big play from either of them is almost inevitable. Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman are the WR2 and WR3 and have been solid for this Chiefs team the whole season. Their rushing attack is led by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has flashed his brilliance in spurts during the season, and Darrell Wiliams, who has provided a couple of spark plays during the playoffs. The O-line isn’t as dominant as it was last year but is still graded 11th by Pro Football Focus. The O-Line has been makeshift all year for the Chiefs as All-Pro RT Mitchell Schwartz had a season ending injury in Week 7, starting guard Laurent Duvernay Tardif opted out of the season, and 2x Pro Bowler Eric Fisher suffered a serious injury during the AFC Championship game. It will be very interesting to see how the offensive line holds up against the elite Buccaneers front 7.

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Often overlooked because of their stacked offense, Kansas City’s defense has been solid this year. They are led by Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, one of the most versatile defensive backs in the league. Mathieu, fresh off his 3rd All-Pro selection, is a complete game changer by being able to blitz and play man and zone coverage extremely well. Kansas City’s secondary ranks 10th according to PFF, containing teams to around 233 passing yards per game. Rookie corner L’Jarius Sneed has been having a DROY type season had he not gotten hurt with three picks and 42 yards allowed the entire year. Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Daniel Sorensen, and Juan Thornhill fill out the rest of this underrated secondary. The Chiefs’ front seven is highlighted by 2x Pro Bowler DT Chris Jones, who accounted for 7.5 sacks and 36 tackles. On the edge is Frank Clark who hasn’t really been putting up the stats, but shows up when it matters the most during crunch time situations. Kansas City’s run defense ranks 19th in the league, so expect the Buccaneers to try to get the ground game going early. 

Breaking down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002 with none other than the GOAT himself Tom Brady at the helm. Brady took some time to gel with his new teammates early on in the year, but caught fire heading into the postseason. He amassed 4,633 yards and 40 TDs on the year at 43 years old! But don’t get mistaken, he has a ton of talent around him too. WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for 1,846 yards and 20 TDs making them a nightmare for opposing defenses. Oh and it doesn’t hurt when your WR3 is 7x Pro Bowler Antonio Brown. The rushing attack for the Bucs has been just as formidable as of late with Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones leading the way. Also throw in a top 5 O-line that has let Brady be under pressure on just 24 percent of his dropbacks this season, 4th least in the NFL. As if the roster wasn’t talented enough, the Bucs went out and signed longtime Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to be the perfect compliment to Tom Brady. With the amount of talent that is on the offensive side of the ball for both teams, this game could very well be a shootout. 

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Led by two of the best linebackers in the league in Devin White and Lavonte David, the Bucs’ defense is ranked 6th in the NFL. White and David are coming off second team all pro selections and combined for 179 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2020. Their secondary, which also ranks 6th in the league, is extremely well rounded with man to man corner Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy Bunting. Additionally, rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr has had a stellar season for the Bucs. But the key for the Bucs to win this game all depends on their defensive line. In the NFC Title Game, the Bucs pass rush sacked QB Aaron Rodgers 6 times. They need that type of production again in the Super Bowl and that starts with edge rushers Shaquill Barrett and Jason Pierre Paul. Barrett led the league in sacks just a season ago and is the best pass rusher on this Bucs team. JPP, a savvy veteran had 9.5 sacks on the year. Pair in DT Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh, who can stop the run very well, and this D Line is a force to be reckoned with. Overall, this defense is very good, it will just be up to whether they can limit the big plays. 

5 key things that will determine who wins Super Bowl LV

1. Can the Buccaneers contain Tyreek Hill? 

During their Week 12 matchup, Hill had a game for the record books, destroying the Bucs secondary for 269 yards and 3 TDs. Obviously the Bucs are going to try everything in their power to prevent that from happening again, but can they? Well, they would have a much better chance if they actually had help over the top rather than matching Carlton Davis 1 on 1 with him. They also need to mix up their coverages because their man coverage was getting exposed after Hill exploded for 203 yards in the 1st quarter alone. 

2. Which team has a better chance at getting pressure to the opposing QB?

Comparing both defensive lines, Tampa Bay has the edge especially since the Chiefs O-Line is a bit banged up. They were able to get six sacks on one of the best O-lines in the Green Bay Packers; however, sacking or even pressuring Mahomes’ throw will be extremely difficult since he is very mobile. Ranked as the number one passer against the blitz, Mahomes rarely takes sacks because of his ability to create outside the pocket and get the ball out quickly to his playmakers. Tampa’s best bet is to rely on their pass rush by sending 4, otherwise blitzing too many will hurt them like it did in Week 12. 

3. Look out for Scotty Miller

The 5’9 180 lb receiver for the Bucs has been one of Tom Brady’s favorite deep threat targets this year. Averaging 15.2 yards per catch, Miller will be a surprising X-factor in this SB matchup. 

4. Brady’s Kryptonite?

This is an odd question, but the Chiefs have a guy who is familiar with Tom Brady but doesn’t play on the field. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a 3-2 all time record against Tom Brady, one being against the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl. Spagnuolo is known for sending blitzes, something Tom Brady hasn’t been too comfortable with this season throwing 12 TDs to 6 INT against it. 

5. Which QB do you bet against?

Brady vs Mahomes. The GOAT vs The Kid. What a way to cap off an NFL season to have this type of matchup in the Super Bowl. Brady is going for his seventh while Mahomes is trying to be the youngest QB ever to win back to back Super Bowls. As of right now, the better quarterback is Mahomes without question, but Brady has proved all the doubters wrong with a historic SB run this year. But if I were to pick a QB that were to lead his team to victory, it would be Mahomes. It’s possible to contain him but it’s near impossible to stop him for 4 quarters. However don’t be surprised when the game is close, I think the QB with the ball last in their hands will win the game. 

Our Predictions

Aditya: 34-31 KC

Henry: 28-21 KC

Justin: 35-31 KC

Troy: 10-7 TB

Rohin: 34-28 KC

Ryan: 27-24 TB

Brandon: 31-20 KC

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