The Buccaneers are making history as the only team to play in their home stadium for the Super Bowl. They'll be welcoming the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in a matchup that will pit the two most recent Super Bowl winning quarterbacks against each other - again another first in NFL history.
Here are a couple things to know about this Chiefs team coming to down.
1. They're the defending Super Bowl Champs and looking for a repeat performance.
You knew this one already unless you've been living under a rock. Where last year was the Chiefs' first Super Bowl win in 50 years, Kansas City didn't have to wait as long this time around to get another opportunity. The term 'dynasty' has been knocked around when talking about the potential of this Chiefs team. But that's all it is for right now. Potential.
A second-consecutive Super Bowl win would do a lot to progress that narrative from just chatter. Throughout the season this year, despite the target on their backs, Kansas City seemed destined to get to this point. They compiled a 14-2 regular season record to earn the AFC's top seed and only first-round bye. Their only losses came in a surprise upset that to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week five that only seemed to refocus them and then they dropped the last game of the season without their star quarterback and Chad Henne starting in his place. They were tested early by the Baltimore Ravens in Week Three, getting by quarterback Lamar Jackson and the eventual playoff-bound Ravens by a convincing 34-20 score. In fact, they played five of the other seven teams that made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs this season. In addition to the Ravens, they beat Buffalo (twice, including this last weekend), New Orleans, Cleveland and yep, the Bucs back in Week 12.
View the top photos of Tampa Bay's NFC Championship Game vs. the Green Bay Packers.
2. It's the GOAT vs. the Kid.
Thanks to Good Morning Football's Nate Burleson for the comparison but the two quarterbacks in this matchup, unlike the last for the Bucs, are on opposite sides of the spectrum and could quite possibly not be more different, though each very successful this season in their own right. Mahomes is the definition of a mobile quarterback and perhaps, human cheat code as well, with a penchant for never giving up on plays and making something out of seemingly nothing. When you watch Mahomes, it very much looks like backyard football with the way he is able to escape pressure using his legs and speed or throw on the run to a magically open receiver. Heck, he doesn't even need to look at his receiver half the time to complete a pass (okay, that's an exaggeration). Tom Brady, however, fits the traditional mold of an NFL quarterback to a 'T'. He's a deadly accurate pocket passer who is one of the fastest processors in the league that can still air it out at any given moment- even at 43 years old. Where Brady is billed as the Greatest of All Time, Mahomes is, quite frankly, just getting started. It's old school vs. new school. Experience vs. youth.
That is, until you take a little bit of a closer look.
Yes, Brady has been in this situation more than any other quarterback ever – this will be his 10th trip to the Super Bowl after all, but it's a first for him in a lot of ways. It's his first time representing the NFC. It's his first with the Buccaneers. It's his first in a brand-new offense with brand-new players and brand-new coaches around him. Mahomes, having directed his offense in Kansas City for the past three seasons as a starter actually has the continuity factor on his side. His offensive arsenal has largely remained unchanged, as well. He still has the league's best tight end in Travis Kelce, he has multiple receiving targets including the ever-dangerous Tyreek Hill and he has a solid run game that averages over 112 yards per game he's able to lean on. He's known nothing else but Reid in his professional career and even had the benefit of a year behind quarterback Alex Smith to get acclimated to the NFL when he first started out before he was given any real responsibility. At this point with the Chiefs, Mahomes feels right at home (I know, I'm sorry).
Meanwhile, after spending nearly two decades in New England, where he had the same head coach for his entire tenure, Brady is in his first year in a system that could not be more different than the one he was used to for all that time. It's required quite a bit of adjustment without a lot of time and resources and it's looking like Brady got hot and just the right time as he figured it all out for the Buccaneers.
Because of Brady's prior time in the AFC, the two aren't strangers to one another. Before this season, they had already played against one another three times, including once in the postseason for the AFC Championship. That was two years ago in 2018, when Brady led the Patriots past the Chiefs to advance to the Super Bowl – the last Lombardi Brady hoisted, in fact. Last season, Mahomes got the better of Brady, going into New England in Week 14 and coming out with a 23-16 win that was en route to a Super Bowl win of Kansas City's own. Before that, the pair faced off in the regular season in 2018 again in New England, where Brady and the Patriots won a close one with a final score of 43-40 in Week Six. This season, with the Buccaneers waiting for their Week 13 bye, Mahomes came to town with the Chiefs and managed to escape with a three-point victory (more on that later), evening the score between them.
So, there you have it, Mahomes is 2-2 against Brady in his career. And though they've played in a title game against one another – they haven't played in Super Bowl. Until now.
3. The matchup will pit two infamous offensive minds against one another.
Yes, the major headline is once again the quarterbacks, but both Brady and Mahomes are running systems devised by two notorious offensive-minded men in Reid and Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians. Reid has long been known to be one of the best offensive minds in the league – look no further than his last stop before Kansas City in Philadelphia and just go watch the Eagles' offense with both Donovan McNabb or even Michael Vick at quarterback. Reid is brilliant in his passing attack and has settled into an excellent rhythm with Mahomes now in Kansas City. In the 2020 regular season, the Chiefs had the number one passing offense, averaging 303.4 yards per game through the air.
But wouldn't you know it? The Bucs had the second-most potent passing offense right behind them, averaging 289.1 passing yards per game in the regular season. Tampa Bay also outscored Kansas City on a per-game basis, averaging 30.8 points per game versus the Chiefs' sixth-ranked 29.6 points per game. The Bucs also have the Chiefs on red zone scoring percentage, with the Bucs coming away with points on 68.85% of red zone drives against the Chiefs' 61.02% along with goal-to-go situations, where the Bucs earned a top-five ranking with 83.72% compared to the Chiefs' 71.43%, which is tied for 22nd in the league.
Not only are Arians and Reid known for their offense, they are also known for their quarterback development. I named two of the feathers in Reid's cap above in addition to Mahomes and he can also claim Packers' great Brett Favre as another. Arians, on the other hand, has coached greats like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer and now Brady.
Reid's offense is rooted in that of the West Coast Offense, which Reid started out in but has since become known more for his innovative style that constantly meshes new concepts with more traditional ones. Reid is also no stranger to pushing the ball down the field in chunk plays, opting to essentially just never be faced with third down situations, according to a Ringer article done last year, but he does so while still subscribing to many of the West Coast Offense principles no matter how he dresses them up. Arians, is very vertical in his 'no risk-it, no biscuit' approach, opting to give quarterbacks options dependent on what they see. Arians has said there's a 'touchdown and checkdown on every play' but the scheme is very conducive to explosive downfield plays. Neither style is right nor wrong – they are just respectively the result of decades of coaching experience from both Reid and Arians. So, while you've heard the phrase, "defense wins championships," this matchup may just come down to the offense given these two head coaches.
4. The Chiefs aren't actually invincible.
Despite how ridiculous Mahomes is under center, how many weapons he has at his disposal or how good his head coach's offensive mind is; despite the 14-2 regular season record and having the top-ranked passing offense; despite the fact they are the defending champs – the Chiefs aren't unbeatable.
Look to the defensive side of the ball, where they have improved in a lot of ways, but where you can also identify some aspects of their game to exploit. I'll give you an example: the Chiefs are allowing 122.1 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 21st in the NFL. Their defense has also struggled to bring opposing quarterbacks to the ground, recording a sack on just 5.75% of pass attempts, which ranks 20th.
Overall, the Chiefs are allowing 358.3 total yards per game, which puts them in the middle of the pack at 16. That's good news for the Bucs who average 384.1 yards per game for the seventh-best mark in the league. However, perhaps the biggest area in which the Buccaneers could find some success? The red zone. Kansas City is dead last in red zone defense, allowing points 76.60% of the time opponents get inside the 20-yard line. That works out well considering the red zone has been an area of strength for Tampa Bay this season. The Bucs have the seventh-best red zone offense, scoring on 68.85% of their trips inside the 20. Pare that down to goal-to-go situations (inside the 10-yard line) and the Bucs have a top-five ranking with a 83.72% success rate. Make no mistake, Kansas City is an excellent team and the Buccaneers will have to find ways to take advantage of any mistakes or perceived weaknesses every opportunity they get if they want to be crowned SBLV champs.
5. The Chiefs beat the Bucs 27-24 in Raymond James Stadium in Week 12.
We established last week that regular season matchups don't mean much when it comes to the postseason – especially the further into it you get. The Bucs dominated the Packers in Week Six but up in Lambeau last weekend, the game came down to the wire.
And while the Bucs hoped for the same result from the regular season against Green Bay, they'll be hoping for a different result against the Chiefs from the regular season. Early in the game, the Buccaneers found themselves in a 17-0 hole after the first quarter. By the end of the game though, the defense had held off the Chiefs, giving them just 10 more points in the ensuing three quarters and the Buccaneers scored two straight touchdowns, both to Mike Evans, on their final drives – pulling within three points late in the fourth quarter. In the end, they just ran out of time.
It was a game no one thought was going to be close at the time, with the Bucs coming off a loss to the LA Rams the week before and the Chiefs looking as unstoppable as usual. It left a bad taste in Tampa Bay's mouth as the Bucs went into their bye the next weekend with a 7-5 record.
They wouldn't lose another game.
That loss to the Chiefs is the Bucs' last loss this season as the two teams meet in the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay is riding the longest win streak in franchise history with seven games. And they won't want that streak to end as they make history as the first team to play in their own stadium for the Super Bowl.