by D’Angelo Prince, FTFN Seahawks writer
During one of the greatest annual events America has to offer, we’ll see the Kansas City Chiefs clashing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it only feels right to have the undisputed G.O.A.T, Tom Brady, opposite of the “baby goat”, Patrick Mahomes.
Here we will go through 3 keys to success for both teams and my final predictions, so buckle up.
Dear Kansas City
There aren’t many ways to stop Tom Brady, but there are a few things that Steve Spagnuolo and his defense can do. One of those things is generating pressure, as Tom Brady struggles mightily when you get to him. In the playoffs, he is completing nearly 62% of his passes when not under pressure, and when he is under pressure that number drops down to 28%, according to Pro Football Focus. To be fair, every quarterback struggles with pressure, but brady being 43 years old and virtually immobile makes it even more impactful if you can get him on the ground.
The 2nd key is forcing Brady to throw deep. Now, Tom Brady as a whole has been feasible going deep this year, but he has had some recurring accuracy issues as half of his 12 turnovers this year have been on deep balls. Brady threw 3 INTs in the NFC Championship and all of them were downfield throws. Also, in the regular season and playoffs combined, he is only completing 35% of his passes 20+ yards downfield, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
The 3rd one is quite possibly the hardest to do, which is keeping Brady from dissecting your defense pre-snap. Brady in his 21st season is more than just a “seasoned veteran”, he is the greatest ever for a reason. A big reason why he it seems like he always finds a way to win is because he just knows what to do in almost every situation. He’s also hard to trick. The Bucs will probably spend a good portion of this game spreading their offense out and motioning players, which forces the defense to move off their spots and reveal their coverages. Once this happens, Brady is adept at changing the play and knowing exactly where to go with the ball. It is important to note that Brady and the Bucs have been on a roll coming into and through the playoffs as Tampa has won their last seven games in a row (last loss was to Kansas City). They are also just the second team ever to score 30-plus points in all three previous playoff games entering the Super Bowl. Good news for Kansas City: Their defense has allowed less than 24 points in four straight playoff games, the longest such postseason streak for them.
Dear Tampa Bay
The first key to victory for Tampa is to be aggressive, strictly out of necessity. The Chiefs are an absolute juggernaut and are the #1 overall ranked offense in the NFL. They have the best quarterback and tight end to go along with the fastest wide receiver in the league. We all know they’re a handful and because of it, the Bucs need to play with a sense of urgency and the mindset to score touchdowns only. They will need all the points they can get in a game like this.
The 2nd key is to trust their defense. Todd Bowles will need to understand that his defense is bound to give up a good number of points, but it’ll be worse if you blitz Patrick Mahomes. It may seem like the right thing to do considering Mahomes is out 3 starting offensive lineman, but he is by far the most efficient QB when he is blitzed, and he has proven to be more effective when he faces 5 rushers instead of 4. This is why he is only blitzed 20% of the time, the lowest mark in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats. Good thing the Bucs have the defensive personnel to disrupt him, as they have generated the most sacks (7) and have caused seven turnovers in just three postseason games.
Onto the last key, which is limiting turnovers. It’s very simple, if you turn the ball over to this Chiefs offense, you’ll lose this game.
Here we’ve got Brady’s uncanny experience, 3 missing offensive linemen for the Chiefs against a top-ranked defense, two great head coaches, two stacked offenses. There is a lot to dissect in this game, and I think it might come down to which defense can get that final stop, or lack thereof. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs somehow found a way to win, but I’ll have to go with the Chiefs here.
34-28, Chiefs over Bucs
by D’Angelo Prince, FTFN Seahawks writer