Opening Kickoff: Super Bowl LV is finally upon us. It is the Chiefs and the Buccaneers. Brady vs. Mahomes, Reid vs. Arians. It is a dream match up for the NFL as the league wraps up this unprecedented season.
The two teams met Week 12 in Tampa with the Chiefs beating the Bucs 27-24. The Chiefs got off to 17-0 lead early but had to hang on late to get the win.
With the loss, the Bucs five-game winning streak against against the Chiefs was snapped. It was the Chiefs first win in the series since 1993.
The Buccaneers surprisingly lead the all time series between the two teams 7-6.
Here are five keys in this game for the Buccaneers.
1. More coverage, less pressure: Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles learned a valuable lesson in the first meeting between these two teams. You cannot bring five and six man pressure and play man coverage against the Chiefs.
Tampa Bay got torched as Tyreek Hill went off catching 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. If Tampa Bay is going to win this game, less is more defensively. Bowles needs to only bring four or five and play zone behind it. Cut J.P.P and Shaq Barrett loose and let them get consistent pressure on Mahomes.
2. Feed the backs: I know Bruce Arians doesn’t like playing conservative football but it might help the Buccaneers and their defense if the Bucs ran the ball more and controlled the clock. That means feed Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.
Tampa Bay throws a lot of play-action and pushes the ball vertically down the field. If Brady and company can establish the ground game early, that will open up things for them down the field on second and third and short.
3. Banjo and bracket Kelce: As dangerous as Hill is, I wouldn’t double him. He’s tough to double anyway given how much the Chiefs move him around. Kelce on the other hand, can be doubled. He usually lines up as a wing or a slot and when they do motion him, it’s usually just across the formation.
I would try to subtract Kelce from the Chiefs game plan and force Mahomes to hold the ball longer. Kelce is his security blanket. Take him away.
4. Disguise and disrupt their RPO’s: The Bucs played a lot of single high safety looks in the last meeting and got exposed. Bowles needs to disguise more. Start in Cover 2, rotate on the snap and disrupt Mahomes reads. This is especially important on RPO’s. The Chiefs throw more RPO’s than any team in the league. Cloud Mahomes reads.
5. Let Brady be Brady: Tom Brady is the single biggest reason the Buccaneers are in this game. He is playing in his tenth Super Bowl. Let him lead the team but also let him play the way he wants to. It is his show. Let him run it.
Final Prediction: Bucs 31 Chiefs 28: I was originally going to pick the Chiefs but I cannot bet against Brady in the Super Bowl. Yeah, I know he’s lost three times but he plays at his best on the biggest stage. I think he and the Bucs will rise to the occasion today and complete the most improbable season in league history with a Super Bowl win at home.