The Buccaneers may not be in primetime again, but all eyes will be on them as they take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs at their place on Sunday afternoon.
The game will pin two of the league's best quarterbacks against one another – and that's not just hyperbole. Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady and one and two in career-win percentage among active quarterbacks with at least 40 starts. They each also rank in the top five in both passing touchdowns and passing yards since 2018, when Mahomes became a starter. The game marks the first time since the NFL-AFL merger that the league's top two quarterbacks in terms of career win percentage will face each other head-to-head.
Neither Mahomes, nor his team as a whole, has shown any signs of slowing down since capturing the Lombardi. The offense comes to Tampa ranked first in both passing yards per game and scoring, averaging over 32 points per game. They're 9-1 on the season so farr and Mahomes himself is top five in passer rating this season. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has the second-most receiving touchdowns in the league, just one ahead of Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans.
The Kansas City offense be taking on the league's best rushing defense though, which ranks fifth in total defense, along with the league's sixth-best scoring offense, averaging 29.1 points per game.
The Buccaneers also own the all-time series against the Chiefs, winning seven of 12 all-time matchups. Brady himself is 7-4 against this Chiefs in his career, including regular and postseason matchups, and 4-0 against them with Mahomes under center. The last time the Chiefs won in Tampa was in 1993.
Read on for how to watch the high-profile matchup, along with some key facts about the game.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
All-time record: Bucs lead the all-time series 7-5
Home record: 4-2
Key Matchups (via Scott Smith)
1. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin vs. Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu
There are a variety of ways that Godwin and Mathieu could cross paths on Sunday, as Kansas City uses Mathieu all over their defense and the Bucs do many different things with Godwin, as well. Through Kansas City's first nine games this season, Mathieu had played 46% of his snaps as a slot corner, 28% as a safety and 24% as a hybrid linebacker in the box. That role in the slot will surely bring Mathieu in contact with Godwin, as he has taken 53% of his snaps in that location. As he continues to distance himself from his broken finger, Godwin is getting back to his huge role in the Bucs' passing attack; he played all but one snap against the Rams and was targeted 10 times, resulting in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Though he's missed a good amount of time to various injuries this season, Godwin's numbers from 2019 showed that he is one of the most effective slot receivers in the entire NFL. But he's much more than that to the Bucs' offense. He's often specifically designed into the team's blocking schemes on running plays, which is another way he could do battle with Mathieu when the Chiefs' defender is playing up in run support. And if the Bucs try again to get the ball deep – Godwin was targeted on one deep pass against the Rams, Tyrann Mathieu the Safety could end being the over-the-top help that Brady and Godwin have to avoid. Both Godwin and Mathieu bring a very physical style to their respective games, so any battle between the two is sure to be very hard-fought.
2. Chiefs RT Mike Remmers vs. Buccaneers OLB Shaq Barrett
In addition to all of its skill-position firepower, the Chiefs' offense features a strong pair of bookend tackles in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom went to the Pro Bowl in 2018. However, Schwartz is currently on injured reserve due to back problems, which has put Remmers into the lineup at right tackle, the third position he's played for Kansas City this year. Remmers has a lot of experience, with 84 career starts during stints with the Panthers, Vikings and Giants, and obviously his versatility has come in handy for Kansas City, who signed him in the offseason for depth. Since he stepped in for Schwartz four games ago, Remmers has been very impressive in the running game, showing good power and the ability to drive defenders off the line. As a pass blocker he may not be as dominant as Schwartz but he's sound and consistent in his technique. This Sunday he'll get a test from Barrett, who continues to have a very fine season despite a lower sack total than last year's incredible explosion of 19.5. Barrett has the quick first step and should challenge Remmers' quickness and footspeed and rushes around the edge. According to NFL stat service Radar360, Barrett is tied with the Chiefs' Chris Jones for second in the NFL with 30 quarterback pressures, and according to NFL Next Gen Stats he has a pressure rate of 14.2% that ranks fourth in the NFL. That's actually a higher pressure rate than he had in his huge 2019 season (13.9%).
3. Buccaneers G Ali Marpet (or Ryan Jensen or Aaron Stinnie) vs. Chiefs DT Chris Jones
After missing three games due to a concussion, Marpet was a full participant in practice to start this week, though he will not exit the NFL's concussion protocol until he can practice without it causing more symptoms. If Marpet can play, the Buccaneers will go back to him at left guard and Ryan Jensen at center, and that would be good timing considering that fill-in center A.Q. Shipley is now dealing with a neck injury. If Both Marpet and Shipley are unable to play, Aaron Stinnie would step in at left guard and make his first NFL start. The Bucs obviously hope that Marpet can return, as he was generating Pro Bowl buzz before his injury and would be an excellent counter to Jones, one of the NFL's hardest interior linemen to stop. Even without Marpet, the Buccaneers showed they could handle such a challenge in Week 11 when they shut out the Rams' Aaron Donald, one of the few defensive tackles one could reasonably rank ahead of Jones. Jones. In less than five seasons, Jones has already racked up 38.5 sacks, including a team-leading 5.5 this year. Like Donald, Jones has an extremely quick get-off at the snap – Next Gen stats has him clocked at an average of 0.91 seconds when pass rushing, third among interior linemen – but he's also 6-foot-6 and he uses his enormous wingspan to keep blockers off him and power them back into the pocket. Marpet has the power to anchor against such defenders and keep them at bay, which will be quite useful if he can get back into the lineup in Week 12.
4. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David
Obviously, there isn't one Bucs defender who is going to be matched up on Kelce all afternoon, but David will be an important part of the plan to try to keep the incredibly productive tight end in check. Last week against the Rams' talented TE duo of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, David had a team-high three tackles on completions to those two, and he also logged a pass defensed. David has broken up five passes this season and last year he ranked as one of the best coverage tight ends in the NFL according to Next Gen Stats. Next Gen calculated his coverage success rate at 64% and his yards per target at 5.0, both of which were second best among all NFL linebackers. Of course, very few defenders or defenses succeed in shutting down Kelce, who has only failed to reach 50 receiving yards in one game this season. He is averaging 5.5 catches and 69.4 yards per game as he follows up on a 2019 season that saw him break the all-time record for yards by a tight end. Kelce obviously has very good rapport with Patrick Mahomes and can pick up big chunks of yardage by finding open spots when Mahomes breaks containment and improvises. Kelce spends most of his time lined up in the slot or out wide, from where he can stress defenses and create mismatches with his size-speed combination and his sharp route-running.
Uniform Combination: Red jersey, pewter pants, black socks
Watch on TV:
- Sunday, November 29, 2020
- Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
- Television Network: CBS
- Broadcast Crew: Jim Nantz (play by play), Tony Romo (color), Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
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