PREFACE – A CONFESSION
I am sure that if you follow me on Twitter, (@FF_Derrick) it is no secret that I am a proud Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. No, I did not board the ship at Raymond James Stadium in the summer of 2020 when Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady signed a two-year deal. I have been following the Buccaneers since my childhood. I promise to leave my love for my lifelong favorite team aside and give an honest evaluation of this Super Bowl.
This article will focus on the tale of the tape, keys to victory for each team, and the most important players of this game.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Kansas City Chiefs
The reigning, defending, Super Bowl champs come into their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance on fire. Running through the 2020 schedule with only two blemishes on their resume. One of which was the reserve squad for the Chiefs getting the nod in week 17. With 12 straight meaningful wins, the Chiefs appear indestructible. The ability to turn it on whenever they want to, fueled by last year’s Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, is incredibly impressive. Sixth in points scored and first in passing yards, this offense is lethal. With four Pro Bowlers on offense and three on defense, it is nearly impossible to find a glaring weakness in this team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It hasn’t always been pretty in 2020 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Losses to the Bears, Rams, Saints (x2), and the Chiefs. A silver lining is they were all playoff teams. The Bucs are on a seven-game winning streak since their Week 13 bye. The last loss, the Kansas City Chiefs. Finishing the regular season at 11-5 is a massive improvement from their 7-9 campaign in 2019.
The addition of Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown have proved to be the pieces Tampa needed to get to the next level. Third in points scored and second in passing yards, Tom Brady has this offense playing at a high level. Jason Pierre-Paul is the only Bucs pro bowler in 2020.
KEYS TO VICTORY – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Key #1: Affect Devin White
Devin White is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. The second-year guy out of LSU makes plays all over the field, usually with bad intentions. The chiefs need to have a plan for slowing down the pursuit of Devin White. An example below is a misdirection jet sweep play to Tyreek Hill that confuses Devin White, allowing Hill to get the edge and pick-up big yardage.
In this first shot, you can see Devin White (45) on the defense’s right hash mark. Tyreek Hill is positioned on the offense’s left-wing position.
You can see below that Devin is completely out of position by the time he realizes Tyreek has the ball heading to the left side. This was caused by Andy Reid dialing up some misdirection, combining it with getting the fastest player on the field the ball in space.
Plays like this should be called early and often. Tampa Bay’s front is an aggressive bunch and can be easily put out of position. Tyreek Hill gets to the opposite hashmark before Devin White moves off his original spot. The Chiefs will need to ramp up their offensive window dressing in this game to move the ball. Tampa is the #1 ranked run defense in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaire will not find much success running between the tackles. Therefore the Chiefs will need to get creative in their attack.
Key #2: Protect Patrick Mahomes
The strength of this Bucs defense is its front seven. Vita Vea returning from injury, paired with Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul form a relentless defensive line. The Bucs produced 48 sacks, 116 quarterback hits, and 91 tackles for loss. The chiefs will be without pro bowl LT Eric Fisher (torn Achilles). This current offensive line group is far from the one the chiefs came into 2020 with.
Protecting Patrick Mahomes will be a huge difference in this game. It is well documented just how special Mahomes can be when he has enough time to throw the football. Todd Bowles, the Buccaneers defensive coordinator, realizes this may be the only real weakness of the Chief’s offense. Tampa certainly can get pressure from their front-four; however, I expect the Bucs to bring pressure from multiple angles on Sunday.
Key #3: Start Fast, Play Aggressive
In their first matchup in 2020, the Chiefs exploded out of the gate with a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Mostly on the back of Mahomes delivering two long-bomb touchdowns to Tyreek Hill. Tampa Bay came out defensively playing mostly 1-high safety defense with man coverage underneath. Shown below is the 75-yard touchdown to Hill.
Patrick Mahomes-Tyreek Hill (75-yard TD)
Hill reached a top speed of 14.40 MPH within 1-second of the snap, 5th-fastest on a go route this season. Hill is responsible for 3 of the top 5 fastest speeds off the line of scrimmage on go routes this season.#KCvsTB | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/ZCCnSzhbyG
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 29, 2020
Tampa will look to control this game offensively. The Chiefs need to get out to a quick lead, throwing Tampa off their game plan. We have seen this season that Tampa tends to overreact to a negative game script and can abandon the run in an instant. If the Chiefs can blow this game open early, we may see the Bucs struggle to keep up with this prolific offense.
KEYS TO VICTORY – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Key #1: Weather the Storm
In their first matchup, the Bucs fell behind early and were in catch-up mode for the rest of the game. One huge mistake cost the Bucs the game, single coverage on Tyreek Hill. The first quarter was the worst defensive game plan Todd Bowles used the whole year. One deep safety and plenty of man coverage on the fastest player on the field was bound to blow up in his face.
After Hill burned the Bucs secondary in the first quarter for 200+ yards and 2 touchdowns, the Bucs backed off their coverage and found success. Transitioning to a two-deep shell and playing more off-coverage on Hill forced Mahomes and Co. to check the ball down.
Below you can see the second quarter adjustment made by Todd Bowles, two-high safeties with plenty of help on Tyreek Hill. A great pass rush forces Mahomes to check down to Demarcus Robinson for a minimal gain.
This kind of defense forces the Chiefs into a dink-and-dunk operation. Now, the Bills used this tactic in the AFC championship game and lost. So why should Todd Bowles try this approach in the Super Bowl? The Bucs pass rush has the talent to beat this offensive line without their top starters. The Bucs have had a ton of success with shutting down offenses with two-high shells in recent weeks. Take away the big play and keep everything in front of you.
Key #2: Control Time of Possession
Tampa will need big games from the running backs and offensive line. The recipe for beating Kansas City is keeping that offense off the field. Sustaining drives with an effective run game will shorten the game and keep the score low. The biggest weakness for Tampa Bay will be their secondary. Protecting those guys by keeping Mahomes on the sideline will be critical.
Kansas City runs a ton of 4-1-6 personnel on defense. Leaving them vulnerable to a 12-personnel run-heavy attack. I fully expect the Bucs to lean on the blocking ability of tight end Rob Gronkowski and this young offensive line to get the job done. Do not hear what I’m not saying, I don’t think the chiefs will sit in a nickel or dime defense if Tampa is trotting out two tight ends and an extra offensive lineman most of the game. However, this defense’s best players are not the best run defenders.
Key #3: Start Fast, Play Aggressive
The third key to this game is the same for both teams. Start fast and do not be afraid to take chances. Bruce Arians has always been aggressive with his decisions; I do not expect him to stop now. The Bills learned that you do not beat the defending champs with kicking field goals. “Taking the points” is usually the smart thing to do, but against a juggernaut offense like Kansas City, you’re better off taking chances to score six points.
Neither team that leads in this game should feel comfortable with knowing the ability of the quarterback on the other side of the field. The winner of Super Bowl LV will be the most aggressive team, not the most risk-averse. As Bruce Arians would say, “No risk it, no biscuit!”.
MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS
Earlier this week I posted two polls on Twitter, here are the results!
— Derrick (@FF_Derrick) February 4, 2021
— Derrick (@FF_Derrick) February 4, 2021
It does not shock me that the overwhelming majority of voters chose the quarterbacks in this matchup as the most important players. I hope that this article provides a different perspective and something more to think about than the quarterback matchups.
Looking to place a few bets on Super Bowl LV? Check out The Super Bowl Betting Guide
Thank you for reading! You can find the rest of my work at DFF and follow me on Twitter @FF_Derrick. Reach out to me anytime with anything fantasy football related! Seize the moment! Say less, do MORE!