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The Thirsty Three – NFL Super Bowl Edition

Grab Yourself the Good Stuff – This Game Will be Special

Here we go.  For NFL obsessives like me, people who could care less about football like your girlfriend, and everyone in between, the game is here.  And what a game.  When Tom Brady jumped to the NFC there was an exceptional chance he would never play Patrick Mahomes again.  But Tom was like nah, I’m gonna go get right back to where we belong.  So for Sunday’s tilt, we have the GOAT (Greatest of all time) which is Tom vs. the BOAT (Best of all time) which is 25 year old Patrick Mahomes in the NFL Super Bowl.

Brady’s status is legendary.  He has essentially 3 Hall of Fame careers.  He won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years in his first 5 years in the league.  Then watched as Pittsburgh, and Indy, picked up championships before Tom decided to go undefeated in the 2007 NFL season.  Only to lose to the mighty NFC 5 seed Giants.  Then Brady went back in 2011 only to face his old foe again and once again lose in spectacular fashion to ole Eeyore Eli Manning.  

At that point Tom could have called it career and still would have been considered one of the best QB’s of all time but ten years after that fateful 2011 Super Bowl Loss, Tom Brady is back in what is now his mind boggling 10th Super Bowl.  Brady has essentially gone to the bowl with 4 different teams.  The first run was dominated by defensive stalwarts such as Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel (yes that Mike Vrabel young-ins), and Ty Law.  

The second run was all about Tom.  His offense was record breaking in 2007, he had Randy Moss and Wes Welker and there was a completely different composition to the team.  But that was only 5 Super Bowls.  Incredible that he has gone to 5 more since that time and has won 3 of them with Sunday’s game undetermined.  

Tom won a wild one in the desert against the Seahawks in the 2014 season.  That game saw the Hawks get beat on one of the worst calls in NFL history.  Instead of running from the 2 yard line with Marshawn Lynch, who had been killing the Pats defense all game and especially in the 4th quarter, the Hawks went with their 3rd year QB on an inside slant.  Malcolm Butler, an unexpected hero, jumped the route, picked the pass and Tom and Bill picked up their 4th ring.  

3 years later Tom was back at it again.  This time he would lose another heartbreaking Super Bowl, this time to the great Nick Foles.  So for those counting at home, Tom has won 6 bowls, and lost 3.  The 3 losses were to two QB’s.  Eli Manning (twice) and Nick Foles.  You can’t make this stuff up.  

The last Bowl Tom was in was only 2 years ago believe it or not.  I know quarantine time makes every thing seem like it was a decade ago but that was a weird game where Tom was held to 13 points but the Pats defense held the Rams to 3 points and Tom picked up his coveted 6th ring.  

Now, Tom gets to play the man he beat to enter his last Super Bowl.  One Patrick Mahomes.  I remember thinking after the 2018 AFC Championship game that Tom will essentially pass the torch to Mahomes.  That was a game the Pats could have easily lost because of Mahomes brilliance and if it wasn’t for a Frank Clark bone-headed offsides, Mahomes would be playing in his 3rd straight Super Bowl.  

Mahomes is the greatest Quarterback I’ve ever seen, talent wise.  Tom has the hardware, Tom has been and will probably be the greatest winner of all time.  Going to 10 Super Bowls is insane.   The Detroit Lions have won one playoff game since 1958 for reference.  Just to show how hard it is for an NFL team to reach the bowl.  But during the AFC championship game in 2018, I remember thinking I’ve never seen a guy do what Mahomes can do.  That was the year he threw for 50 touchdowns and would show case just how unsafe any lead is.  

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs
Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated

In the 2018 game, the Patriots went up 14-0 at the half and they were up 17-7 entering the 4th quarter, but Mahomes and company just keep coming.  The Chiefs put up 24 4th quarter points and tied the Patriots only to lose in overtime as Brady was able to go right down the field and score a touchdown to move on to the Super Bowl.  

As we would see throughout their entire playoff run in 2019 (season) that landed Mahomes his first ring, no lead is safe.  I’ve never seen the talent of Mahomes.  His arm, his ability to read defenses, his eyes, his complete control of the offense.  It’s really a sight to behold.  Rodgers is close with pure talent but Mahomes has the edge.  The offensive infrastructure takes his talent to the next level.  The Chiefs are perfectly suited for what Mahomes does well and I don’t see anything less that 8 Super Bowl appearances for My Man Mahomies.  I don’t stutter when I write.  I will be shocked if Mahomes doesn’t play in at least 8 Super Bowls in his career.  This is number 2 and it may be the greatest of all of them.  

Rarely do we get this level of greatness.  For years folks wanted to see Tom and Aaron.  We have still never had a Tom vs. Aaron Super Bowl and the NFC Championship is as close as we are going to get.  We saw a Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees bowl and it was great.  I see Sunday’s game being special in many ways.  We are being treated to two special quarterbacks, at two very different points in their career that are both playing at exceptionally high levels.  

This is also the year of quarantine, of political upheaval, a Presidential election, and an inauguration.  Americans are tired.  We are mentally and physically exhausted and the perfect antidote is hilarious commercials, loads of guac, dips, fried fatty foods, and 2 of the greatest QB’s the game has ever seen.  I love that the NFL gave 7,500 vaccinated health care workers tickets to the Bowl, there are so many things bigger than football, but on Sunday, football is the thing.  We will get a great halftime show I’m sure, we get a reading from national sensation Amanda Gorman and we get action.  Lots of action.  

Tom Brady spikes the football while Donovan Smith celebrates
(AP Photo/Brett Duke)

Have you seen those prop bets?  They are out of control.  Will Tom’s Brady’s age or his 10 super bowl appearance be mentioned first?  How many times will Giselle Bundgen be shown.  Over/ Under is 3.  How long will the National Anthem go?  The coin toss.  Player props.  Who scores first.  There is even prop bet action on the puppy bowl.  I love this day more than anything and if politicians wanted to truly unite the nation they would make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday.  We all need a break after Sunday’s activities.  Get it together Congress.  

This week for the thirsty three I will give my take on the spread, the over/under, and 1 prop bet.  I will be betting a parlay on the spread and over/under.  It’s a 20 year tradition for me.  I also bet the coin toss.  I can’t help myself.  Tails never Fails! Except for Super Bowl years 2009-2013 when I lost 5 straight.  Then I bet heads in 2014 and lost.  Haven’t veered since.  Tails leads all time in Super Bowls by the way 29-25.  In case you are interested in stuff like that.  HA.  Bet Tails.  Tails has won 6 out of the last 7.  

The Action

After a two week hiatus we are back in the hunt.  I went 1-1 in championship games.  I thought the Packers would play better.  They had many opportunities and for all of the Tom love, Tom had a bad game.  He threw 3 picks on 3 consecutive possessions all in the 2nd half.  With Aaron Rodgers on the other side, that would usually spell disaster but it shows how much better the Bucs are than the Packers and how much that defense gave Aaron Rodgers real problems in both of their 2020 meetings.  

So without further ado, here is the thirsty three, the BOWL edition.  I am going to pick the spread, the over/under, and one prop bet.  Like I say, props are the best in the Super Bowl so have fun with it.  

Season Total 31-26-3 

54% win percentage 

WEEK 21 – The Bowl

Bucs vs. Chiefs – Spread Chiefs -3.5

What we have here is failure to communicate.  Where I have failed in my last two Bucs bets was to remember the 20 year lesson.  I tell anyone that will listen that my first year gambling on NFL games was the 2001 season.  I was in college, there was a gambling online free for all and I was all in on it.  That year I bet a lot of Bears and a lot of Patriots.  I won a lot that year.  One game I’ll never forget was a Sunday Night game in Foxboro in November against the Rams.  At that the Rams were all but unstoppable.  Think the Chiefs now.  The Greatest Show on Turf just devoured people with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt. They scored points like orange trees, in droves.  

This particular game I remember betting the Rams.  They were 2 score favorites (-8.5) and they did not cover.  I watched almost that whole game and the Patriots gave their offense fits.  They were able to get to Warner and slow down the passing game.  Marshall Faulk was the X factor however and he ended up doing what he does and beating the Patriots but even in that loss, I learned something.  This Belichick guy can coach.  He used 5-6 backs long before that was the norm and in his nickel and dime coverages he was covering up the Rams pass game.  

When the Super Bowl came around that year the Patriots once again found themselves playing the Rams and once again, they were double score underdogs.  This time for some reason, the Rams were 14.5 favorites, much higher than the 8.5 from earlier in the season.  I couldn’t believe this line, something was off to me but that is when I learned you don’t bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs.  I went hard on the Patriots.  $500 for a college kid was a lot.  But not only did I go hard on the spread.  I went hard on the moneyline.  That’s right.  I won $350 on a $100 money line bet.  Like I say, I did good that year and I learned about bank roll management and I had the bank.  I cashed out about $1000 before the Bowl even happened.  So right there and then watching that game I learned, never bet against Tom Brady.  I mean never.  

The last few weeks I went against this cardinal sin and I apologize to all football Gods.  Tom is the GOAT, he sold his soul at the crossroads to be the greatest of all time and he is back in the Bowl.  The last 2 weeks I truly felt like the Saints and the Packers had the Bucs number.  But I forgot about the Tom factor.  There is some magic there that us mere mortals will never understand.  I mean the Bucs were losing 20-10 and the Saints were driving in the middle of the 3rd quarter when Jared Cook fumbled.  The whole game swung the other way and the Bucs won 30-20.  The Tom factor.  Tom comes out in the 2nd half of a game where the Bucs pretty much dominated the Packers and throws 3 picks and the Bucs stop the best offense in the NFC and top 10 QB of all time in Aaron Rodgers.  The Tom factor.  

Well folks, I’m not going to do it again.  Remember this.  In a game where Tyreek Hill had over 200 receiving yards in the first quarter against the Bucs in late November this season, the Bucs nearly came back and won that game.  The final score was 27-24.  Look, Mahomes is unbeatable.  The Chiefs have won 24 of 25 games.  They can beat you early, and even if they are down 20 points, they can come back in a flash.  Mahomes, HIll, Kelce and Reid are locked in.  The Chiefs defense isn’t too shabby either.  They aren’t great, but they have been a bend and don’t break defense, the takes advantage of opportunities.  With an offense like the Chiefs all your defense has to be is average and the Chiefs defense is a little better than average.   As long as the Chiefs defense is not terrible they will win a bunch of games, and they have. 

Chris Godwin catches a pass against Kansas City
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

But Tom Brady and the Bucs offense have been on fire.  They have figured this thing out.  They have put up 30 points or more in 6 straight games, including the playoffs.  Tom has all kinds of weapons.  They are running the ball well and they are playing great defense.  

Here is what I am looking at for a close game.  The Chiefs beat up offensive line vs the Bucs dominating defensive line.  The Bucs were the best rush defense in the entire NFL in 2020, holding opponents to just over 81 yards per game.  The Chiefs were right in the middle on the 2020 season in rushing at 16th ranked for just over 113 yards per game.  That doesn’t matter so much, I don’t see the running game being a factor for the Chiefs.  They can score without running the ball well.  Just have to keep the Bucs honest with the run and then get back to Mahomes slinging it.  

What will be a factor is containing Tyreek Hill or applying enough pressure on Mahomes where he doesn’t have time to hit the deep crossers to Hill or Hardman.  The Bucs have the linebackers to cover Travis Kelce.  I was really impressed with the Bucs pass defense against Aaron Rodgers.  Much like the 1st game the Packers and Bucs played Rodgers was under duress all game.  He was sacked 6 times against in the NFC championship and when he did have time everything seemed to be covered.  The Bucs were able to hold Davante Adams to a fairly moderate game with 9 grabs for 67 yards and a touchdown.  More importantly the Bucs were able to keep the Packers out of the end zone.  That is the key.  Keeping the Chiefs out of the endzone.  Can Todd Bowles find a way to get pressure on Mahomes with just 4, mix up coverages and play great redzone defense and hold the Chiefs to field goals.  I believe they have the defense to do it, but they are going to have to find a way to stay away from the big play.  As great as the Bucs defense has been this year (ranked 9th in scoring defense at 22 points per game) they have been hit hard by the big play.  They may be without two key members of their secondary as well as both Jerome Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr. are iffy to play in this game.  

On the other side of the ball, the Bucs are rolling.  In fact, if you can find the Bucs at 26 or 27 for a total on the game, I would bet the over.  Tom and Mike Evans have figured out some chemistry and Tom is getting just enough from Godwin, Brown, Miller, Johnson, Gronk, and his running backs to move the ball consistently.  The Chiefs defense isn’t horrible and they played great against the up and coming Josh Allen in the AFC championship game.  This is definitely a bend don’t break defense as they give up 355 yards per game (ranked 15th) but they only give up just over 22 points per game (ranked 10th). This defense has ballers.  Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu are playmakers that can dominate the game.  When the Chiefs go up, Jones goes to work and the honey badger is a ball hawk so the Chiefs defense becomes opportunistic paired with their high scoring offense.  

However, they are ranked 22nd in defensive DVOA and they are exploitable.  The Bucs have done an excellent job keeping Tom Brady clean.  He is the best in the business at knowing where to go with the ball and resetting the pocket so he helps his line as much as they help him.  With all the hype in this game amongst the QB’s my main matchup in the entire game will be the Bucs run offense vs the Chiefs run defense.  If the Bucs can keep this game close and allow their offense to remain balanced, Tom will hand the ball off 50 times to ensure a win if that’s what it takes.  It’s part of why he is the GOAT.  No ego when it comes to winning.  He is fine winning 10-6 games where he throws for 150 yards and 3 picks as long as he does enough to win.  

The Bucs were not a good rushing team during the season averaging 98 yards on the ground per game (27th) however in their three playoffs games they have averaged just over 115 yards per game which would have been good enough for 15th during the season.  They are running the ball much better at exactly the right time.  The Chiefs on the other hand have struggled against the run giving up 122 yards per game (19th) and this is where you can steal a win against Mahomes.  

My main matchup will be Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones against the Chiefs run defense.  Can the Bucs run well enough and can the Bucs keep the game close enough where they can run the ball.  This will limit Mahomes possessions and force the Chiefs to have quick strikes.  They are more than capable of pouring it on an opponent but I think this game is close.  I initially thought this would be about a 7 point game.  As soon as the Chiefs game wrapped, they looked dominant against a very good Bills team and I said, the Bucs were a 5 seed, they kind of slugged their way through the playoffs and now they face Mahomes, this will be a 7 point spread.  I was shocked the spread was halved.  

I am sure there is some hometown factor to this game but the bowl is just different no matter what.  The game is played at a weird time, it is more entertainment than true game.  The halftime show is long and crazy, the hype is insane.  So even though Tom has managed to check off another cool story on his football bucket list and lead the Bucs as the first ever team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium, I still thought the line makers would give Mahomes the benefit of the doubt.  This leads me to believe, they think it will be a close game, as do I.  I think the Bucs actually find a way to win this thing.  I like the matchups, I like how they battled back against the Chiefs 2 months ago when they were being absolutely shellacked.  I like the Bucs D line vs the Chiefs o-line to make life hell on Mahomes and I like the Tom factor.  the Reality is the Bucs offense can score against this Chiefs defense and the Chiefs offense can be challenged by the Bucs defense.  If this is the last Tom Super Bowl, probably not, but if it is, then I am going the moneyline.  I think he finds away.  It should be great.  I haven’t been this pumped for a bowl in a long time and I believe we are about to have an instant classic.  

Bucs 34-Chiefs 31 

Bucs cover the 3.5 

The Game will go over the 56.5

Tom Brady WILL Rush for more than .5 yards.  The old dude needs one rushing yard.  That’s one QB sneak people.  It’s happening.  

I’m parlaying all of these things and then hedging in some other areas but I love all three of these outcomes this week.  Best of luck taking your bookies money!  

Enjoy the day of days for all you football fans and casual observers alike.  This is a bittersweet day for me.  What the hell am I going to do with my Sundays the next 8 months?  Welp, time to start dreaming of next year for all 31 teams that don’t win the Lombardi trophy.  I hope this Sunday brings much needed relief from all the depressing health, financial, and political news. Americans need a break.  So gather up some guac, don’t gather up your friends, stay 6 feet apart, mask up if you must be out and about, be safe.   

Thanks for being part of the 2020 wild ride, look for more of my articles on all things NFL, fantasy football, and dynasty fantasy football.  Until next time good people.  Be well.  

Written by Keith James

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