Super Bowl Preview

One of the biggest events in sports is nearly upon us as the 2021 Super Bowl sets the stage for one of the most exciting matchups in recent NFL history.

The Kansas City Chiefs are led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are led by the legend Tom Brady. This quarterback matchup certainly plays a big part in this particular Super Bowl.

Before analyzing the game this Sunday, let’s briefly see how both teams got here.

The Chiefs marched their way to a 14-2 regular season record, which was the best record in football this season. They continued their success with two victories in the playoffs against the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.

Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes followed up his MVP campaign with a very impressive season. The 25-year-old gunslinger threw for 4,740 yards along with 38 touchdowns. His favorite targets, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, both had solid seasons as well. Kelce broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,416 yards. Hill followed that up with 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Chiefs are known for their explosive offense, but their defense is very reliable as well. They ranked 11th in the league in points allowed per game, and they were 16th in yards allowed per game. Those aren’t the most impressive numbers, but with the type of offense they have, it is more than enough to get the job done. Tyrann Mathieu is the undeniable leader of their defense, as he led the team in interceptions, and he is the vocal leader of the entire team.

Now, let’s move on to the Buccaneers. Last spring, quarterback Tom Brady decided to leave the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and plenty of success. Brady decided to take his talents to Tampa, Florida, and try to build on his list of accomplishments.

At 43-years-old, it is nearly impossible to fathom how good of a season Brady had this year. He threw for 4,633 yards and a whopping 40 touchdowns. This is only the second season in which Brady has reached that mark in touchdowns. He led his new team to an 11-5 record and proceeded to win three straight road games in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.

Wide receiver Mike Evans led the team in receiving with 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns. Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski were also key threats in the passing game with both players catching seven touchdowns.

A big part of the Buccaneers’ success came on the defensive side of the ball. They ranked 6th in yards allowed per game and 8th in points allowed per game.

Tampa Bay’s defense was very good at forcing turnovers and getting pressure on the quarterback. They ranked 6th in takeaways and 4th in sacks. Pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul led the way in sacks with 9.5, and was followed up by star interior linebacker Devin White, who had nine.

Devin White and Lavonte David are both interior linebackers and tend to wreak havoc. White had 140 total tackles this season with 18 tackles for loss, and David had 117 total tackles with 14 tackles for loss. Those two have become one of the best defensive duos in football, and they will be a big factor in Sunday’s game.

Breaking down this matchup is complicated, but there are a few factors to consider before predicting a winner.

The pass rush of Tampa Bay has been good all season, and that spells bad news for the Chiefs. Kansas City will be without not only their starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, but they also lost their starting left tackle Eric Fisher in the AFC title game.

Keeping Mahomes clean will be difficult for the battered Chiefs offensive line. Mahomes will need to show off his ability to throw outside of the pocket and on the run to cover up some of the inefficiencies the offensive line has.

On the other hand, while the Kansas City defense doesn’t have a ton of sacks on the season, they constantly send extra pressure after the quarterback. Tom Brady tends to do most of his work inside the pocket, and the Chiefs could have the recipe to disrupt him and make him uncomfortable.

The key to this formula is how the Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo mixes up his blitzes and keeps the Buccaneers’ offense on their heels. If they send the same exact looks at Tampa Bay, Brady will catch on to it quickly and pick them apart.

All of these scenarios are important to look at, but the major storyline going into this game is Mahomes vs. Brady. Tom Brady is commonly referred to as the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and Patrick Mahomes is viewed as the league’s best quarterback today.

Brady is eyeing his seventh Super Bowl victory, which would cement his status as the greatest, and make it nearly impossible to catch him championships.

Mahomes is looking to win his second Super Bowl in a row, which would put a chip in Brady’s “greatest of all time” armor. The way both of these quarterbacks play this Sunday will be the biggest factor in determining a winner.

Finally, it is time for my prediction.

The entire Chiefs squad is basically the same as last year, and that means they have experience playing in this game. On the other hand, the Buccaneers have the perfect quarterback for a game like this, and it’s likely that he will have his team ready to go.

In analyzing this game, I was leaning towards the Chiefs winning their second title in a row, but my position has changed. Tampa Bay has peaked at the right time and are a little bit more healthy across their roster than Kansas City. It’s feasible that the game stays neck and neck throughout, but the Buccaneers force a turnover late to put the momentum in their favor.

In the end, we can expect Brady and company give Tampa their first title since 2003. Not only is it plausible that Brady wins his seventh Super Bowl, he could pick up his fifth Super Bowl MVP.

Final Score Prediction: Tampa Bay 34   Kansas City 24

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