Super Bowl LV Preview and Prediction
We actually made it. Through a coronavirus-filled season, the NFL has its final two teams – the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the first time in NFL history, a team – Tampa Bay – will play for the Lombardi Trophy in its home stadium. Does that give the Bucs an edge?
Not necessarily. Home field advantage hasn’t really mattered at all this season as teams played in virtually empty stadiums. There will be roughly 22,000 fans at Super Bowl LV and a third of them will be health-care workers invited by the NFL to attend for free.
Because of the coronavirus, there will not be any of the pre-Super Bowl hype that fans are used to. The defending champion Chiefs will not even arrive in Tampa until two days before the game. Still, it’s the Super Bowl and someone has to win.
The Case for a Repeat
The Chiefs are peaking at the right time. They beat Cleveland with QB Patrick Mahomes in concussion protocol for the latter half of the game. Last week, Mahomes came back and drove Kansas City’s offense up and down the field on Buffalo to the tune of 38 points. The reigning Super Bowl MVP threw for over 300 yards and had three touchdown passes in the win over the Bills.
The key for Kansas City on Super Bowl Sunday will be giving Mahomes the time he needs to carve up the Bucs secondary. Tampa Bay got after Aaron Rodgers and the Bucs were the NFL’s No. 1run defense during the regular season. The Chiefs will be without All-Pro offensive tackle Eric Fisher who tore an Achilles tendon in the AFC title game. That could be a problem.
The Case for the Bucs
It’s Tampa Bay’s first trip to the Super Bowl since the 2002 season when Jon Gruden was the head coach. It’s only fitting as the Bucs signed QB Tom Brady in the offseason and the future Hall of Famer guided Tampa to a Super Bowl.
Brady owns six Super Bowl rings already and will be looking for a seventh. He also joins some elite company as a quarterback leading two teams to Super Bowl – Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, for example.
Tampa Bay will need to execute a nearly flawless defensive game plan in order to win. Either that or Brady and the high-flying Bucs offense gets into a shootout with the Chiefs and they get the ball last. Tampa Bay has scored at least 30 points in each of its last six games.
In games of this magnitude, you can point to two things – coaching and the quarterback. Kansas City’s Andy Reid is one bettors love when he’s on the road. He’s a very impressive 40-22-1 against the spread away from home.
Reid’s quarterback is equally impressive against the spread checking in at 15-8-1. That means the Chiefs, a three-point favorite, are going to keep this one close. And, they will keep it close enough to win it in the fourth quarter, just like they did a year ago… KANSAS CITY 35, TAMPA BAY 31
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The Tight End Bowl
It’s not often that tight ends find themselves in the spotlight, but a Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl would do just that. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce was the Chiefs’ leading receiver with 97 receptions for 1,229 yards and five touchdowns. Kelce’s receiving yards total was the fourth-best in the NFL.
For San Francisco, George Kittle caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns and missed two games with injuries. Kittle and Kelce are two of the best – if not the best – at their position and quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo would each be looking to their respective tight ends a bunch in a Super Bowl matchup.
The difference, of course, in a Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl is defense. While Kansas City improved dramatically throughout the season, they are not the 49ers. San Francisco has the NFL’s best pass defense. It would be an epic battle as Kansas City had the league’s fifth-best passing offense.
While 21-year veteran head coach Andy Reid would be drawing up some magic for the Chiefs, third-year head coach Kyle Shanahan would be doing the same for San Francisco. It would be a great matchup of offensive minds, but in the end defense wins championships and San Francisco’s is better… SAN FRANCISCO 28, KANSAS CITY 27
Then There Were Four – Possible Super Bowl Matchups
New England’s relatively easy victory over Tennessee earned them a seventh straight trip to the AFC title game. The wild finishes in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota set the rest of the field for this weekend’s conference title games. Only four remain leaving four potential Super Bowl matchups. Here’s a look how each might play out.
New England vs. Philadelphia
A Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl matchup would likely be similar to a Patriots-Vikings tilt. The Eagles have been very good on defense all season, especially against the run where they finished first in the NFL during the regular season. New England has had plenty of recent success running the ball with Dion Lewis rushing for 60-plus yards in each of his last four games. Lewis has 896 for the season.
Belichick and Patricia would scheme a way to make things very difficult for Philadelphia QB Nick Foles. Foles is 3-1 since taking over as the starter for the Eagles after the injury to Carson Wentz. The Philadelphia offense has been far from the Eagles offense of midseason. Last week in a win over Atlanta, Philadelphia struggled its way to 15 points on a one-yard run by LeGarrette Blount and three Jake Elliott field goals.
While the Eagles run defense is the league’s best, the pass defense is a little more suspect. Playing against possibly the best quarterback in the history of the game, that pass defense would have to play almost perfectly in order for Philadelphia to have a shot at beating the Patriots. Either that or the Eagles would have to force a few New England turnovers and steal a possession or two.
The second in line for most popular betting tradition in offices today in the U.S. is Super Bowl Squares. Winning with Super Bowl Squares is entirely luck so anyone has a chance of winning. This is probably why it’s so popular.
2021 NFL Football Playoffs