By Joseph Quirk ’23
Simply put, who will win this season’s Super Bowl should not even be a question. As much as one has to respect Tom Brady and what he has been able to accomplish, this is Patrick Mahomes’s time. Indeed, Brady will be reaching a remarkable 10th Super Bowl, a feat that is hard to even fathom. It is made more impressive when you consider that this is his very first year on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the debate should be about who is the best team: a debate that Kansas City wins.
Their advantage starts on special teams, a part of the game that is not glamorous, but is important, especially in the playoffs. Ryan Succop is the placekicker for the Bucs, and he is not terrible by any means. But compared to Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker, he is severely outmatched. Since entering the league, Butker has been among the league’s best kickers, and has experience kicking in the biggest moments. He has proven to be accurate and powerful, and his kickoff abilities should give the Bucs trouble.
Steve Spagnuolo, the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, gives the Chiefs another major advantage. Spagnuolo has experience dealing with Brady in the Super Bowl as he led the 2007 New York Giants defense which famously stopped Brady’s Patriots from having a perfect season. His defense now features high-energy and versatile weaponry with the likes of Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu leads a Chiefs’ secondary that is far stronger than their Buccaneers counterparts. This was proven in their last regular season matchup.
It bears mentioning that Tampa Bay has a much better front seven than the Chiefs: Vita Vea, linebacker Devin White, and Pro Bowler Jason-Pierre Paul form a formidable trio for Tampa. However, Kansas City’s tandem of Frank Clark and Chris Jones is also very disruptive and works well with the Chiefs’ stronger secondary.
However, the real reason the Chiefs will win is because their offense is far superior to the Bucs. Although the Buccaneers have a very good duo in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans at receiver, other weapons like Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown are at the tail end of their careers. Meanwhile, the Chiefs feature a stronger and more mobile quarterback, a system that fits its players perfectly, a game-breaking tight end in Travis Kelce, and a trio of speedy wideouts led by Tyreek Hill.
One final point worth noting is Kansas City’s coaching advantage. While both coaches are experienced, Andy Reid proved last season that he may very well be the best coach in the league. All of these factors combined make it all but certain that the Chiefs will be crowned the champions of Super Bowl LV.
by Cam Smith ’21
All eyes will be on star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. However, it will be the performances of other players that will ultimately determine the outcome. Specifically, the play of the Tampa Bay defense and Tampa running back Leonard Fournette will propel the Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
The two teams last met in Week 12, when the Chiefs knocked off the Bucs 27-24. Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill torched the Tampa defense to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Following that embarrassing showing, the Bucs worked hard during their Week 13 bye to address their issues with the deep ball.
Following the bye week, the Bucs have played 2-man coverage for 18.1% of all defensive possessions, compared to just 4.8% in weeks 1–12. This increase in 2-man coverage will provide a challenge to Hill, as it allows for the cornerbacks to play more aggressively while also protecting against the deep ball with two safeties over the top. So too does it target Mahomes’s potential weakness, as the Kansas City quarterback’s 53.6% completion rate against the 2-man was his lowest rate against any type of pass defense in 2020.
Tampa’s run defense, on the other hand, is one area that has refused to show any flaws all season. Coming into the Super Bowl, the Bucs have the league’s number one rush defense. In the Week 12 matchup, they limited the Kansas City backs to just 59 yards on 16 rushing attempts.
This trend will likely continue into the Super Bowl matchup, as the Chiefs suffered a brutal loss when left tackle Eric Fisher went down with an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs are also expected to be without right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, leaving two gaping holes in the line for the talented Tampa run defenders to take advantage of.
On the other side of the ball, Fournette has flourished since the start of the playoffs following an inconsistent regular season. Coming into the Super Bowl, the Tampa running back leads all players with 313 postseason yards from scrimmage. With a Chiefs defense potentially spread thin defending one of the best receiving corps in the game, Fournette should have plenty of room to continue his dominant run.
Indeed, with Tom Brady at the helm, the Bucs’ offense will remain effective, but it will be the Tampa Bay defense that brings home the trophy. Limiting big plays from perhaps the best offensive trio in the game in Mahomes, Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce will not be easy, but the surging Bucs defense might just have what it takes.