Super Bowl LV is almost here! On Sunday evening we will see the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa. This marks the first time in NFL history that the host city will have its’ own team playing in the Super Bowl, in their home stadium.
There have been two other instances where the home team has hosted the Super Bowl in their home town, but never in their own stadium.
In 1980, Super Bowl XlV (between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams) was played in LA but not in the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The second time the team from the host city played in the Super Bowl was in 1985. The San Francisco 49ers hosted the Miami Dolphins for Super Bowl XIX. This game was played in Stanford Stadium instead of Candlestick Park.
Now it is time to turn our attention to the upcoming game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before breaking down what to expect in Super Bowl LV itself, we need to look at how each of these teams performed in their last game.
What We Saw In the NFC Championship Game
Tampa Bay Offence
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offence did enough to win the game, but it was anything but clinical.
Brady Beats the King for Two Touchdowns
TB12 and the Buccs started off well with a TD pass to Mike Evans on a perfect lob over the head of Kevin King. Brady would pick on him throughout the game, and hook up with Scotty Miller just before half time on a play that should never have been allowed to happen. King let Miller get by him with eight seconds left in the first half, to make the score 21-10 Buccs.
Fournette’s Fortunate Touchdown Run
The second touchdown for Tampa was an impressive 20 yard run by Leonard Fournette with just over 12 minutes left in the second quarter. Fournette should not have been able to get anywhere close to the end zone on this play. Four Packers defenders missed their tackles and allowed Uncle Lenny to rumble down the field for six points.
The play design was a run up the middle that was stuffed by the Green Bay defensive line. Fournette bounced the play outside right with a decent cut, followed by a spin move. Once he was clear of the line he sprinted down the sideline and was tackled into the end zone by two Packers defenders. Fournette is big, decent long speed, and has very average agility for a big back.
The way the Packers fell down and hit everything except number 28, would make you think they were trying to tackle Saquon Barkley.
Brady’s Throwing Woes
Tom Brady threw three very bad interceptions on the day, and was very lucky that he wasn’t picked off four times. The first half almost ended for Tampa with an interception instead of a touchdown. Tom threw a deep pass to Cameron Brate down the right sideline into very tight and very good double coverage. He had options open in the middle of the field, but escaped with an incomplete pass, thanks to the Packers defenders not being able to catch a gift.
The second half was not as user friendly to Brady as the first. He threw three interceptions due to pressure in his face. Once again, he tried to throw the ball deep down field instead of getting the ball out quickly to his check down option.
The offensive play calling was suspect at best during parts of the game, but when all is said and done, 31 points is 31 points.
- Interceptions: 3
- Receiving: 5/9/110/0
- Rushing: 12/55/1
- Receiving: 5/7/19/0
- Rushing: 10/16/0
Tampa Bay Defence
The real hero of this game was the Buccaneers’ defensive front. The majority of the day Tampa rushed with four or five at most and had constant pressure in the face of Aaron Rodgers. JPP and Devin White were mammoths plugging up the holes in the middle on Packer runs, stuffing the running backs over and over again. Shaq Barrett and JPP shoved the Packers offensive line backwards during passing plays, and did not give Rodgers any time in the pocket to consistently find his receivers down field. They batted away check downs and screens, chased Rodgers around the pocket for sacks, and made life miserable for him.
Late in the second quarter Allan Lazard was running a post route from just inside the GB 33 yard line, when Tampa CB Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted the pass. SMB clearly grabbed the shoulder pad of Lazard and prevented him from making the catch.
There was a lot of hand fighting and non calls from the officiating crew on the day. Had it not been the playoffs, defensive pass interference would surely have been called. This play, however, was crucial to the drive and could have led to a Packers TD. Instead, the turnover stood and Tampa drove down the field and scored a touch down with eight seconds left in the half.
Packers Went for Three…..Twice??
The two field goals that Green Bay scored in this game were by any measure, head scratching at best. Both kicks could be called nothing less than crucial errors by the Head Coach Matt Lefleur.
First Field Goal
The Packers were down 14-7 with five minutes left in the half. On third and goal, Rodgers scrambled right, buying time for one of his receivers to get open. Unfortunately, nobody got open in the end zone. Aaron then had a choice to either run it in or throw it away. The patch of grass between he and touch down heaven was as open as he could possibly have hoped for. ARod has scrambled in for six points many times before from this spot. This time, however, he threw it away.
The field goal brought the score to 14-10. If they had been down by three going into the half, the call would have made sense. A second field goal later on would have tied the game. Down by four, however, they would still need to score a touch down, so they should have gone for six. The call was a mental error.
Lefleur’s Second Three Point Mistake
Once again, the Packers were inside the Tampa 10, this time with just over two minutes left in the game and down by eight. Matt Lefleur took the ball out of the league MVP’s hands and brought out the kicking team for three useless points.
These mistakes are simply inexcusable, and the Packers’ Head Coach cost the team a chance to return to the Super Bowl.
- Passing yards allowed: 346
- Rushing yards allowed: 67
- Sacks: 5
- Interceptions: 1
- Forced fumbles: 2
- Touchdowns allowed: 3
- Field Goals allowed: 2
Kansas City Chiefs Offence
Entering the Conference Championship, there were concerns of how capable Patrick Mahomes would be able to perform at the level we have seen throughout the season. He suffered a stinger to the back of his neck in the Divisional Championship game against the Cleveland Browns, along with a painful turf toe injury. Mahomes said he was good to go for Sunday night vs the Buffalo Bills, and he was not lying. He was an absolute stud once again.
Hardman’s First Half Jitters
The Chiefs started the game off slow on offence with a quick three and out and punted the ball back to Buffalo. After the Bills scored a field goal, the Chiefs were set to get the ball back and try to right the ship. On the ensuing kick off, Mecole Hardman fumbled the ball at the Chiefs’ three yard line. Buffalo recovered the ball and would score to make it 9-0 Bills.
The Chiefs’ next possession was more successful. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes made a point of getting Hardman the ball and the eventual touch down pass. Mecole caught a simple three yard out pass on the left side of the field for seven points and a much needed confidence boost.
Fast forward to the Chiefs’ third drive of the game and once again Hardman would play a pivotal role. The first snap of the drive was an end around to Hardman from the KC 18 yard line. Hardman sprinted down the left side of the field to the Bills’ 32 yard line for a massive 50 yard run. Williams would score to put the Chiefs up by five.
Travis Kelce Show
No question that the two most talked about plays in the first half came from Mecole Hardman, but the real hero of the first 30 minutes of play was Travis Kelce. Kelce had racked up an astonishing 9 receptions for 92 yards by half time.
In the second half, the Chiefs had a commanding lead and Kelce would only touch the ball four more times. He made the most out of the touches by scoring two touch downs. The second TD was late in the fourth quarter and put the game to bed for Kansas City.
Tyreek Hill Does it again
Over and over again, Tyreek burned the Bills secondary for large chunk plays in crucial moments. The first half highlights belonged to Kelce, but in the third quarter Hill was not to be outdone.
With 5:06 left in the third, Hill lined up in slot left and ran a simple slant route to the middle of the field. Mahomes hit him in stride and the Cheetah took off, burning the Bills secondary for a highlight reel 71 yard scamper all the way to the Buffalo four yard line. Kelce would score three plays later to put KC up 31-15.
Kansas City would score again in the fourth quarter but Buffalo never had a chance to come back after the Chiefs’ impressive scoring drive in the third.
- Passing: 29/38/325/3
- Interceptions: 0
- Receiving: 13/15/118/2
- Receiving: 9/11/172/0
Kansas City Chiefs Defence
The story of the game on the defensive side of the ball for KC was all about pressuring Josh Allen and forcing him to throw the ball before his receivers could get open down field. Blitz after blitz, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had his defenders pin their ears back and go after number 17 in blue. He wanted to make Josh Allen as uncomfortable as possible and keep him out of rhythm.
His plan worked to a tee. Josh Allen was visibly nervous and made several bad throws which could have been picked off. There were two throws in the first half alone where, had the Chiefs defenders just held onto the ball, they would have made Allen pay for his inaccurate passes.
One of those errant passes came early in the first quarter. With just over four minutes off the clock, Allen scrambled to his right and looked for Beasley along the right sideline to convert a third and three. The ball was under thrown and Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill caught the ball but could not hold on. The result was an incomplete pass and forced the Bills so settle for a field goal, instead of a possible touchdown.
Kansas City kept the Bills passing attack out of stride and did an excellent job of blanketing Buffalo’s star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs would finish the game with a modest yet unimpressive 77 yards on six catches and no touchdowns.
- Passing yards allowed: 287
- Rushing yards allowed: 129
- Interceptions: 1
- Sacks: 4
- Touchdowns allowed: 2
- Field Goals allowed: 4
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Host the Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Key to Super Bowl LV Victory
- The outcome of this game will be decided by which Tom Brady we see on the field in the second half. He cannot afford turnovers against a potent offence like Kansas City.
- TB12 needs to hook up early and often with Mike Evans and score touch downs in bunches against a defence that is not as good as it appeared to be in the AFC Championship game.
- Controlling the clock is a must. Tampa needs touch downs but they also need to chew up as much of the possession time as possible. Keeping Mahomes on the sidelines as long as possible is paramount.
- The Chiefs will march onto the field at Super Bowl LV without two of their tackles in Eric Fisher and Mike Remmers. The Buccs will storm the Chiefs offensive line with their front four with a particular focus on exploiting the replacement tackles.
- Tampa Bay must find a way to shut down Travis Kelce at all costs. He is Mahomes’ favourite target when needing a big third down conversion to keep a drive alive. If Tampa can take him out of the picture, they have a shot of getting KC off the field with three and outs or field goals instead of touchdowns.
- The final key to victory is figuring out how to keep Tyreek Hill at bay and limit the big plays. Hill is going to eat this week, but Tampa must keep him away from the sidelines and out of the end zone.
Kansas City Key to Super Bowl LV Victory
- Super Bowl LV looks to be a shootout and that is exactly what Kansas City wants. Mahomes and company simply need to continue to put up points in bunches with their two star pass catchers. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill need to be involved early and often.
- Travis Kelce is key when near the goal line or in third down situations. If he can get open, Patrick Mahomes will find him. Kelce cannot touch the ball enough this week. He could have as many touches as a running back in other offences and that would suit the Chiefs just fine.
- Run Cheetah run! Tyreek is the fastest, most elusive receiver in all of football. Andy Reid will scheme him open and let his mega star quarterback hit him in stride. There is no one in the entire NFL more dangerous with the ball in his hands than number 10. He will look to chew up big chunk yardage all afternoon.
- The Kansas City defence will have to find a way to keep Tom Brady off schedule as much as possible. This defence is not particularly special, but they are a serviceable unit capable of limiting big plays when needed.
- The Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, needs a big game this week. He will have to keep Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out of the end zone. He is still one of the best defenders in football and will look to pick off the GOAT as often as possible.
- Get to Tom Brady as quick as possible. Ordinarily, pressuring Tom Brady is not a great idea, as he has spent his entire career beating pressure with quick outlet passes and check downs designed to beat blitz packages. The Buccaneers are not the Patriots nor does Tampa run the west coast offence that Brady was so comfortable in for so many years. This offence is built for down field throws which need time to develop. Take it away and KC will be successful.
Final Thoughts for Super Bowl LV
This game is going to be a shootout and should be extremely entertaining to watch. It is also a game that I have flip flopped on regarding who I think will hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of 60 minutes.
There is a huge part of me that thinks Tom Terrific and the Tampa defence will find a path to victory. They could seal a truly special moment in time with a home field victory for the first time ever.
The other side of me looks at Kansas City and the staggering amount of offensive weaponry at the disposal of Mr. Reid. One must wonder if it is possible to stop this juggernaut.
I will not be surprised if Tampa pulls together and wins this week, but I am going to side with the reigning champs. I predict the winner of Super Bowl LV will be the Kansas City Chiefs 32-28.
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