Updated: Jun 2
Everything you need to know for Super Bowl LV
By: Derrek Hale
The biggest game in all of sports is finally here. All this season’s ups and downs, excitement, and drama have led up to this. This Sunday in Tampa, Super Bowl LV will be the finale to a memorable, to say the least, 2020 NFL season. Here are my predictions for the game.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday 6:30 p.m. E.T
Undoubtedly the biggest storyline heading into this weekend is the epic quarterback matchup this game brings, it could very well be the best in Super Bowl history. On one side you have Tom Brady, a quarterback who has appeared in more than ⅙ of the Super Bowls... ever. That’s insane. This will be his 10th Super Bowl appearance in his 21 seasons and his fifth in the last seven. Also insane. On the other side, you have Patrick Mahomes, who many believe to be the most talented player to ever play the position. In only his third season as a starter, the reigning Super Bowl MVP has led the Chiefs to back-to-back appearances in the championship game. Whatever happens this weekend, seeing these two battle it out is going to be exciting.
This matchup isn’t much of a surprise. I mean, it’s the NFL and anything can happen, but most people expected the Chiefs to be hereafter how dominant they looked last year. Then, when Brady went to Tampa this offseason, it seems he took a page from Lebron’s handbook and formed his own little super team. There were some concerns about how effective Brady would be moving to a new team at 43 years old after two decades with the Patriots, but it seems he is still undefeated against father time and has looked great this season in Tampa Bay. Now he leads the Buccaneers into the only team to ever host a Super Bowl in their own stadium. He is appearing in a record 1oth Super Bowl, and also has a chance to become the first player with seven Super Bowl wins. Mahomes is appearing in his third straight and has the chance to become the youngest quarterback ever to win multiple Super Bowls. These guys are amazing.
These two teams met earlier in the season in Week 12. In what at the time was correctly deemed as a Super Bowl preview, the Chiefs jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead, and then managed to fend off a Buccaneers comeback to win 27-24. I expect this week's game to be another close matchup, but a few things have changed since they met a couple of months ago.
The first and potentially most important difference is Kansas City’s offensive line. It’s beaten up. Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher, and protector of Mahomes blindside suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC championship and is done for the season. The Chiefs are also missing 2018 Pro Bowl right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is still on the mend from a back injury. These injuries could result in Mahomes being pressured all night long and is definitely something to keep an eye on throughout the game.
A couple of other changes from the Week 12 matchup are the potentially game-altering injuries of Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown, and Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Both of whom carry questionable designations heading into the game. While not the main weapons for their respective teams, they are important pieces, and as each team is predominantly a pass-first offense, they would love to have every weapon available.
Speaking of weapons, these two teams are loaded with them. Featuring 16 Pro Bowl Honors between them, these are two of the best wide receiving corps in the league. This plethora of talent has helped Brady and Mahomes both rank top three in passing yards per game, top five in touchdowns, and top five in passing yards overall in 2020.
Between the two superstar quarterbacks and names like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Gronkowski, I fully expect this game to be a high scoring shootout. But, there are some names not listed above that could prove to be X-factors in the game. First up are the running backs for each team. For the Buccaneers that is Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette. Jones was the starting back for the majority of the season, but since the playoffs started he seems to have been relegated to backup. This was partly due to injury, and partly due to the emergence of “playoff Lenny”, as Fournette has dubbed himself. Expect the Buccaneers to ride the hot hand and give “Lenny” plenty of chances, with some Jones sprinkled in. Don’t be surprised though if Fournette fumbles, or misses a block and Jones becomes the main guy again. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has a notoriously short leash for his running backs. Make a mistake and you're out.
Speedy Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller could also be an X-factor. Brady likes him and they have an obvious on-field connection. He is capable of getting behind the defense and making some splash plays and did just against the Saints in the division round when he caught a long touchdown from Brady right before halftime.
The unknown factor for Kansas City, is which running back will be utilized and how? Star 2020 1st round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been banged up through most of the postseason and when he did play, he wasn’t
very good, posting only six rush attempts for seven yards. Will they give him another shot, or will they go with veteran Le’Veon Bell? Who in two games so far has 49 attempts for 237 yards. I expect a mix of both and think Edwards-Helaire will snap out of his funk and be effective against the Buccaneers run defense.
Prediction: Chiefs 37 Buccaneers 35
In a year full of things most people would probably like to forget, this Super Bowl should be something worth remembering. I expect a close back and forth game that goes down to the wire. As amazing as Tom Brady is, particularly in big games, I think a high scoring game favors the Chiefs. They have one of the best offenses in the history of the league and are able to score at the drop of a hat. Kansas City’s speed is just so hard to stop, and they possess it at every level. Kansas City wins one heck of a game, to become back-to-back champions. The legend of Mahomes grows, and some people surely will see this as a symbolic passing of the torch. A changing of the guard. It may be just that, but I don’t think Brady is done yet and we could very well see this matchup again next year. Whatever happens this Sunday, it should be a must-see game.