Super Bowl LV is still nearly two weeks away, but fans can already feel the buzz building. This is one of the spiciest Super Bowl matchups in recent memory, and not just because it pits old-guard hero, Tom Brady, against the new king, Patrick Mahomes.
Several notable storylines will be carried into this game.
The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to win their second straight Lombardi Trophy. No NFL team has accomplished this feat since the New England Patriots did it following the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Their back-to-back Super Bowl wins helped kick off a dynasty that lasted nearly two decades—though one could argue that it really began with New England's Super Bowl win after the 2001 season—and only ended when Brady left.
Brady now helms the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are seeking their first Super Bowl win since the 2002 season. Brady was only in his third NFL season then and still growing into his role as the GOAT.
Win or lose, Brady has only built on his legacy this season, by taking Tampa to the big game in his first year with the franchise. This will be his 10th Super Bowl appearance. If he loses, there will be no shame in owning a 6-4 Super Bowl record, though it may mean he officially passes the torch to Mahomes.
Super Bowl LV
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
When: February 7, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV and Live Stream: CBS, CBS All Access
Line and Over/Under: KC -3, 56.5
Money Line: KC -117, TB -104
Prediction: Kansas City 33, Tampa Bay 30
*from DraftKings Sportsbook
As is always the case in a game of this magnitude, quarterback play alone won't dictate the outcome. Individual matchups will play a role too, and one of the biggest to watch out for is the battle between Tampa's defensive front and Kansas City's offensive line.
The Buccaneers feature a ferocious pass rush. The Chiefs, meanwhile, will likely be without starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz has been out since Week 6 with a back injury, while Fisher suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship Game.
The injury news isn't all bad, though. According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, Kansas City running back Le'Veon Bell and wideout Sammy Watkins are both expected to be back in two weeks. The same is true for Buccaneers wideout Antonio Brown.
Thanks to the week off between championship weekend and Super Bowl Sunday, the Chiefs and Buccaneers should be about as healthy as they've been since early fall.
Still, the loss of Fisher will be felt by the Chiefs. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just three sacks in 1,048 snaps this season.
If the Buccaneers can get to Mahomes as they did Aaron Rodgers last week—he was sacked five times—Tampa could quickly shift the momentum of this game. Of course, the pass rush is a two-way street, and Brady will have to deal with the likes of Chris Jones when he's on the field.
When the Chiefs and Bucs faced off in the regular season, Brady was only sacked once but was also forced into two interceptions. Kansas City won that game 27-24, and the final score could be indicative of the sort of game this will be.
While this may not be a full-on shootout, it's probably not going to be a defensive struggle either. There will be too much offensive talent on the field—Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Watkins and Brown are just a few of the notable names—for either of these defenses to completely dominate.
A big defensive play may still decide this game, and it will likely be won by the quarterback who makes the fewest mistakes. The numbers favor Mahomes there, as he's thrown just six picks all season, while Brady has thrown 15 with the postseason included.
This is a game that could be won by either side, and while the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills will tell you that kicking field goals won't be enough to best either of these gunslingers, a field goal could be the difference here.
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