The biggest championship in the sports world: the Super Bowl.
This year’s edition features a showdown between two of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Brady, the ageless wonder, and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off against the newest face of the league, the Kansas City Chiefs, who will be attempting to repeat as world champions.
Before diving into the picks, here’s a few storylines to know:
Tom Brady and the quest for seven
Brady has won an NFL-record 6 Super Bowl championships, and at age 43, he is seeking the seventh of his career. On Sunday, he will appear in his tenth Super Bowl of his 21-year career. For clarity, the record for the second most Super Bowl appearances by a quarterback belongs to John Elway, who played in five.
The unbeatable Patrick Mahomes
Since taking over as the starter for the Chiefs in his sophomore campaign in 2018, Mahomes has a dominant record of 44-9 across three seasons. Along the way, he has won a regular-season MVP (2018), a Super Bowl MVP (2019), and numerous other regular-season accolades.
The Chiefs and the repeat
The Chiefs are the reigning league champions, and they incredibly dodged the Super Bowl hangover season that plagues most Superbowl teams. This year, they finished with a very impressive record of 14-2, but it will take more than just being as good as the previous season to repeat as champions. Since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots, no team has managed to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, but the Chiefs are looking to reach this goal.
So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the game.
Who wins the quarterback duel?
This might be the most asked question going into the game:
Who is going to be the best quarterback on the field Sunday night?
For the last 20 years, the answer would be seemingly easy: Brady. However, over the past few seasons, there has been a changing of the guard. While Brady still averaged an impressive 289.5 yards per game, Mahomes blew that number out of the water, averaging 327 yards a game. Mahomes also passed for an impressive 38-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio across 15 games. Brady wins the touchdown number with 40, but he has also thrown twice as many interceptions (12). In this postseason, Mahomes has also been the more impressive quarterback, putting up an impressive 118.9 passer rating on zero interceptions. Brady, on the other hand, has relatively struggled with an average level of 90.8 passer rating across three playoffs games. When these stats are combined with the fact that Mahomes passed for nearly five hundred yards in their prior matchup this season while Brady threw two interceptions, the answer to this question becomes relatively easy.
Who has the strongest offense?
If numerous offensive weapons are your forte, this game is the one for you. The Chiefs come into this game with the number one offense in terms of yards gained, averaging 415 yards per game, while the Bucs have the third highest-scoring team in the league with an impressive 30.8/game.
The Chiefs have the premier offensive duo in the league with superstar tight end Travis Kelce and unguardable wideout Tyreek Hill. Rounding out their offense is dynamic receivers Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson and a stable of useful running backs, such as Le’Veon Bell, Darrel Williams, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Even though the Chiefs have the best duo, the Buccaneers have unmatched depth across the offense. The wideout position is anchored by stars like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown as well as useful reserves like the speedy Scotty Miller, the rookie Tyler Johnson, the underrated Cameron Brate, and the all-time great Rob Gronkowski. The running back duo of the dynamic Ronald Jones and Leonard “Playoff Lenny” Fournette also plays heavily into the lineup.
This is sure to be one of the highest-scoring Super Bowls in recent history due to the quarterbacks and their incredible amount of weapons at their disposal. It’s easy to imagine Chiefs’ Hill scampering away for a 60-yard touchdown, but it’s just as easy to picture Bucs’ Fournette barreling through defenders for multiple touchdowns. This is too close to call.
Who wins the defensive battle?
The Kansas City Chiefs are known for many things, but a ferocious defense is not one of them. All-world safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive lineman Chris Jones have the dynamism and ability to win games on their own, but when push comes to shove, they won’t be the reason the Chiefs win the Super Bowl.
On the other side, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is coming into this game on fire. Forcing 8 turnovers across the last three playoff games, the Buccaneers are a hard-hitting defense with playmakers at every level. A speedy pass rush anchored by Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and Shaq Barrett should put plenty of pressure on Mahomes, and the incredible linebacker duo of Lavonte David and Devin White should do more than enough to slow down the run game. The secondary trio of Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Antoine Winfield Jr. will also match up well with the Chiefs’ speedy wideouts.
Predicting this game has had a lot of tough calls, but this isn’t one of them.
Decision: Tampa Bay
Who wins the game?
Vegas has the betting line at KC -3, with an over-under of 56.5. With that in mind, this game should, by all means, come down to the wire. Kansas City won the Week 12 matchup 27-24, holding off a late surge by the Buccaneers to take round 1. This game figures to play out a lot like that one, including plenty of explosive offense.
Perhaps the most critical matchup will come down to the Chiefs’ offensive line against the ferocity of Tampa Bay’s front seven. The Chiefs will be missing both starting offensive tackles now since left tackle Eric Fisher’s injury in the AFC Championship and the depth of Tampa Bay could very well make or break this game. While it hasn’t hurt Kansas City yet, two weeks to prepare for a depleted unit could give Tampa Bay the difference it needs.
However, Mahomes is Mahomes, and as much as I hate to bet against Brady, I can’t bring myself to bet against Mahomes.
Decision: Chiefs 33, Buccaneers 30
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes
How to watch Super Bowl LV
Date: Sunday, Feb. 7
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)