Super Bowl LV: Preview
The biggest event in American Sport is will take place this Sunday. The battle between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers & the Kansas City Chiefs will be the the 55th instalment of the Super Bowl and with little else to bring us joy in these Covid times, a battle between two of the best to ever do it can't come soon enough.
While it has been great to have sport during these corona virus times, the lack of a crowd has been a major downer but thankfully their will be 22,000 fans at the game in Tampa Bay to create some atmosphere.
The GOAT, Tom Brady going for his seventh ring, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs looking to become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since Brady & the Patriots achieved the feat back in 2005.
Here's everything you need to know going into Sunday's game.
Road to the Super Bowl:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, good enough for second place in their division but it meant that they would have to go on the road for three straight games if they wanted to be the first ever team to host a Super Bowl.
First up for the Bucs was Washington, who reached the playoffs by topping the NFC East, all be it with a losing record and despite putting up a brave fight, the Bucs managed to win 31-23, fighting off a late rally from Washington. That setup a trip to New Orleans to face the Saints who had beaten the Bucs twice during the regular season and finished top of the NFC South but Tampa's defense showed their class as they dominated the Saints and Drew Brees forcing three interceptions and one fumble, all of which led to Buccaneers scores. Tampa eventually ran out 30-20 winners to move on to the NFC Championship game. The Packers were the last hurdle to get past for Tampa and also to most potent offense throughout the season, thankfully the Bucs defense stepped up once again pressurizing and rushing Aaron Rodgers like no other defense had been throughout the season. Brady threw for three touchdown passes along with three interceptions but a late drive which ended in a field goal for the Bucs proved to be the final nail in Green Bays coffin. Bucs eventually ran out 31-26 winners and were in their home Super Bowl.
As for Kansas City they finished the season with a 14-2 record, enough for best record in the league and a first round bye.
The Chiefs first game would be against the Cleveland Browns, who shocked their world by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round the previous week. The Chiefs had a 19-3 lead at half time and appeared to be cruising towards another AFC Championship game but the Browns came to play in the second half and when Patrick Mahomes was forced to leave the game due to concussion, the result was up in the air. After replacement QB, Chad Henne, threw an end zone interception and the Browns pulled to within five points it was now down to playing the clock and after struggling up the field, the Chiefs took a gamble on 4th&inches but it paid off and the Chiefs secured a 22-17 victory. The divisional match would see the Chiefs go up against the inform Buffalo Bills but the Chiefs showed their class on both offense and defense to secure the win. The Bills could not lay a finger on the Chiefs offense, with Mahomes throwing for three touchdowns & 325 yards and both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill picking up over 100 receiving yards. While on the defensive end the Chiefs gave up an early td after Mecole Hardman fumbled one yard from his own end zone but after that they forced an interception, three punts and four sacks, not allowing another touchdown until the fourth quarter when they had a comfortable lead. The Chiefs eventually winning 38-24 giving themselves the opportunity to defend their crown.
Brady vs Mahomes:
We are all hoping that it comes down to a battle between the two qb's on Sunday but let's take a look at the tale of the tape.
1. Tom Brady is aiming for his seventh ring with Mahomes going for his second after winning with the Chiefs last year.
2. Brady is considered the greatest quarterback of all time while Mahomes is seen as the future of the NFL and arguably the best in the league right now.
3. During the regular season Brady threw for 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while Mahomes threw for 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
4. So far in the playoffs Brady has thrown 7 td's and three interceptions, Mahomes has thrown 4 touchdowns and no interceptions having played one game fewer than Brady.
This is arguably a dream Super Bowl matchup, the greatest of all time vs the goat of the league, it may be a symbolic passing of the torch on the biggest stage in football or we see that Brady still has a bit left in the tank.
Both of these teams are known for their quality offense but so far in the playoffs the performances of their respective defenses have been vital to their success.
Bucs defense stepped up in wins over the Saints & the Packers, in the divisional round against the Saints all of the Buccaneers touchdowns came from Saints turnovers. The Bucs defense then hustled & harried Aaron Rodgers like no other team has been able to do all season forcing an interception and delivering five sacks to put Tampa in a position to win. The return of Devin White has been crucial and if he and the rest of the defense can step up once more on Sunday it could prove crucial.
The only question about the Chiefs heading into the championship game was could their defense hold up against the might of the Bills offense, they passed that test with flying colours as they dominated the Bills and drove the team to a comfortable victory.
Both teams know that having the ball in the hands of their quarterbacks will be crucial, last year the Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl, a team with a very strong defense but an average offense. This year will be very different and they will need to be on top form on both the offensive and defensive end to retain their crown.
As for the Bucs they did a great job on the formidable Packers offense and they will need to match that going up against the Chiefs. Great offense will always beat great defense as we saw last week but with both of these teams capable of producing elite offense, something has got to give.
Gronks time to shine?
Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have had tremendous success in the past with the New England Patriots and after retiring following their last triumph in Super Bowl LIII, the Brady/Gronk connection is set for success once more.
Brady made sure to convince Gronk to join him in Tampa Bay after signing for the Buccaneers and while we haven't seen Brady look to him much so far in the playoffs, their is a reason he was so determined to line up with him once more and we will see it on Sunday.
Gronkowski has just two receptions so far in the playoffs but one of them was last week against the Packers which ended in a 29 yard catch and run, setting up the game winning field goal. He is Brady's guy and as we have seen down the years in New England, Brady always looks to him in the crucial moments and more often that not Gronk has answered the call. The Greats step on the big stage and with most probably having forgot Gronk was even playing with the Bucs or thinking he is past his best, he may just prove to be the difference maker on Sunday.
The Bucs signed Tom Brady to a two year contract this past off season, they have fully committed to building a team to win now as we have seen with the signings of Gronk, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. Tampa have won three straight games on the road to set up a home Super Bowl, the first time ever, it appears to be written in the stars for Brady and the Buccaneers to win on Sunday but the Chiefs are the favourites, having been the elite team in the league over the past two seasons and they will be determined to make it back to back Super Bowl wins.
Most have already crowned the Chiefs as champions but you never bet against the GOAT.
Bring on Sunday night!