Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay will become the first Super Bowl venue to host it’s own team as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday morning. The Chiefs are looking for back to back titles after defeating the 49ers last season and will be the first team to defend their title since the 04/05 Patriots if they win on Monday. Meanwhile, this is the Buccaneers first appearance in the big game since defeating the Raiders in the 2002 Super Bowl.
Road to the Super Bowl – Chiefs
The Chiefs won the AFC West title with a 14-2 record and earned a playoff bye in the first week before meeting the Browns in the divisional playoffs. Despite an ugly concussion to Mahomes, the Chiefs held on to beat the Browns 22-17. Mahomes returned from injury to face the Bills and tossed 3 touchdowns in a comfortable 38-24 result. The Chiefs are undefeated on the road in 8 games this season and that includes a 3 point victory at this venue. So they’ll start as deserving favourites.
Road to the Super Bowl – Buccaneers
It’s been a tough but impressive run to the Super Bowl for Brady and the Bucs. After earning a wildcard with an 11-5 record, the Bucs headed to Washington and battled hard for a 31-23 road victory. In the divisional playoffs, the Bucs met divisional rival New Orleans and despite being swept in the regular season, the Buccaneers got the last laugh in a huge 30-20 victory. Defensively, they picked off Brees 3 times and Brady tossed 2 touchdowns. Tampa Bay continued the momentum onto Green Bay as they knocked off Aaron Rodgers and the #1 seeded Packers in Green Bay, 31-26.
Key Matchups to Watch
#1 – Tyreek Hill vs Bucs Defence: Flashback to late November in the Chiefs 27-24 win over the Buccaneers at this stadium and Tyreek Hill’s performance was a huge factor. He finished with a massive total of 13 catches, 269 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns! So this matchup is likely going to decide the Super Bowl. The Bucs pass defence has been better in the playoffs in terms of getting turnovers. But this is the ultimate test against Mahomes and Hill in the Chiefs passing game.
#2 – Tom Brady vs Chiefs Pass Rush: In Brady’s career, he has lost 3 Super Bowls against the Giants (twice)/ Eagles (once) and the key was their defence. Brady will once again meet Steve Spagnuolo in this Super Bowl as he’s the Chiefs defensive coordinator. The major key to beating Brady is pocket pressure and Spagnuolo knows how to get the job done. He also perfected a gameplan against Josh Allen last week and this could mean trouble for the Bucs offensive line.
#3 – Patrick Mahomes vs Bucs Defence: Mahomes is an absolute star and his performance against the Bills after a nasty concussion in the week previous was nothing short of amazing. The key for Mahomes will be limiting turnovers, which is something he’s very good at. Especially since the Bucs defence has forced plenty of turnovers in their Super Bowl run and they’ll know getting the odd interception or fumble is really their only chance of stopping the Chiefs high octane offence.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer
Firstly, we have short odds on offer for both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill so they’re hard to back against considering Mahomes looks their way often. For the Bucs, Leonard Fournette has been the key running back in this playoff run and should be a solid play when the Bucs get in the redzone. For a bit of value, Scotty Miller caught a beautiful touchdown pass last week and should be involved again, especially if Antonio Brown is ruled out. Cameron Brate has also benefited in the passing game and seems to be the preferred pass catching tight-end over Gronk.
The Chiefs won at this stadium this season against the Bucs 27-24. But since 1993, they’ve won just 1 of 5 meetings. Tampa Bay recorded a 5-3 home record this season and all 3 losses were against playoff teams (Saints, Rams, Chiefs).
Head to Head
Since 1999, the Buccaneers have won 5 of the 6 meetings against the Chiefs. But as mentioned, Kansas City won the earlier season meeting by 3 points.
The fact that these two teams met this season makes betting a bit easier and we’ll be hoping for a similarly close game as was the case on November 30 when the Chiefs held on for a 3 point victory. The other major intriguing part is the home Super Bowl factor for the Bucs. Will they rise to the occasion or will it prove too much pressure? Well with Tom Brady under centre, he should provide a calming influence as he lineups for an amazing 10th Super Bowl appearance.
Ultimately, we do like the Under based on a few factors. Firstly, the Bucs defence has rattled Rodgers and Brees in the last 2 weeks and that should give them confidence in their battle with Mahomes. On the flip-side, Brady did toss 3 interceptions last week and will have a tough challenge against Spagnuolo’s defence. They also miss Antonio Brown in the passing game with his knee injury likely ruling him out. The Under also has a good record in the Bucs last 6 home games (4-2) and the meeting with the Chiefs this season totalled 51 points. There’s also the chance of rain throughout this game which would make the passing game a lot tougher for both teams.
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