Look for a close game Sunday

Look for a close game Sunday

Brentton Wharton, staff writer

After one of the wildest NFL seasons in history, we’ve finally reached the biggest game of the year.

It’s Super Bowl LV, pinning the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the AFC Champion and defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. These two teams met earlier this season, on November 29, in a week 12 evening match up. The Chiefs offense exploded in that game with arguably their best outing of the season. In these playoffs, in any game that was a rematch of a regular season game, the same team won both times. So analytically speaking the Chiefs will be on the front foot in this game, already owning a victory over the Buccaneers. 

I want to think that Tom Brady will play better than he did in November, but he played worse than that just two weeks ago in the NFC Championship. He threw three second half interceptions, fortunately for him they didn’t come back to bite them as bad as they should have. The Packers inability to score touchdowns definitely aided the Bucs in that championship game.

Against the Chiefs’ offense, the Buccaneers defense needs to generate pressure with just the front four. Bringing extra pressure allows the quick developing pass game of Kansas City to load up.

Not to mention how good Patrick Mahomes is against blitzes. Last year in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers the pressure got to Mahomes a lot, and he made a couple poor decisions and threw two ugly interceptions. The Buccaneers also must keep eyes over top of Tyreek Hill. Hill’s ability to blow the top off of any defense makes him a threat to go deep on all plays, which is exactly what happened the last time these two teams met.

One of the keys to this game for the Chiefs is finding that under the radar x-factor. You can expect the Buccaneers to double team both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at certain times, so hitting guys like Sammy Watkins, Clyde Edward-Helaire, and Mecole Hardman will be important for them to keep the offense moving if the top two targets are covered up.

Another thing they have to do is execute in the red zone. The Buccaneers have a great defense, so nothing will come cheap. When KC gets inside of that 20 they must come away with seven points, not three.

If I were Andy Reid I want this game to go fast, score often and early. Putting points on the board quickly will allow Steve Spagnola’s defense to play with a totally different feel. The difference in the Chiefs’ defense is visible depending on the point of the game. When the Chiefs’ go up the multiple possessions the defense gets better. They can play more aggressively, get their hands on the wide receivers, but also relax and see the field. They tend to get tighter and vulnerable, and give up yards when playing in an even score game.

What I’m gonna say might sound odd, but the Buccaneers need to avoid comfortable leads. They can’t get complacent.

Playing against the Chiefs you’d almost rather be down four than leading by ten. Last year’s playoffs are a prime example of that. Last season in the playoffs the Chiefs were losing by double digits at one point in all three of their post season games, and they won them all, by double digits.

They were down 24-0 to the Texans, and won 51-31, they were down 17-7 to the Titans and won 35-24, and against the 49ers they were down 20-10 in the fourth quarter, and won 31-20. Even in this year’s AFC Championship, the Bills jumped out to an early nine point lead on the Chiefs. The Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points after that and never gave the lead back. When the Chiefs look like they’re on their backs, it really feels like they’re just playing possum, and odds are they are about to blow the game open. They have an uncanny ability to just flip a switch and take the game away. 

I think this game will flow evenly for both teams, evenly trading TDs. I see a 10-0 lead for one team turning into 13-10 the other way, a very even game. I think the Chiefs come out with a third quarter explosion of 17 points that ultimately leads them to victory after a fourth quarter comeback effort falls short for Tampa Bay.

I think the Kansas City Chiefs win their second Super Bowl in a row, by a score of 30-24. I predict the Super Bowl MVP will be Travis Kelce as he goes off for 11 catches, 119 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns.