I think the Chiefs will win—assuming they’re healthy. Overall, they’re just the better team in my view. If the Bucs play their best, they are on a similar level, but I don’t think they will do that. Specifically, I’m pretty confident Brady will turn the ball over, at least once. I would be surprised if he doesn’t.
My position will become clear by looking at the scenarios that the Bucs can win the game:
- Great defense and special teams, plus good running/ball control–The Bucs really slowing down the Chiefs offense, maybe getting a turnover or two, and pounding the Chiefs on the ground and not giving up any turnovers, and having one or two big ST plays while preventing big ST plays from the Chiefs.
- Winning in a shootout–both teams going up and down the field, scoring a lot of points, both defenses not very effective.
- Dominating the Chiefs on both sides of the ball–The defense really containing the Chiefs, while exploding on offense—i.e., scoring a lot while not really grinding the clock.
Of the three options, I think most would agree the last one is the least likely. It’s possible, but I would be surprised if that happens. (I would guess the Chiefs would turn the ball over, with the Bucs defense and ST pointing points on the board.) It could happen, but I doubt it.
The second option seems pretty unlikely as well, but it’s more likely than the third option. Two reasons for this: First, the Bucs offense seems like a good match-up for the Chiefs. My sense is that the Bucs are built on the vertical passing game, and their run game is based on that. That is, for the Bucs run game to be effective, the Bucs vertical passing game has to pose a big threat to the Chiefs. The Chiefs have a good pass rush and blitzing, and I’m guessing they’re not going to play two high or make coverage adjustments to take away the vertical passing game. I think they’ll largely allow one-on-one match-ups on deep routes—banking on their pass rush. Additionally, Brady’s ball security/quality of throws can be shaky at times. More pressure and hits will only exacerbate this. The Bucs pass pro especially the interior will be critical in this game. (They have to contain Chris Jones.) I expect Brady will hit on some deep balls, but ultimately I think Brady will turn the ball over, and that’s the second reason.
If the Bucs offense is explosive, I’m guessing the Chiefs offense will get the ball quickly and more possessions. This would put defenses better than the Bucs in a tough position, but the Bucs defensive style doesn’t seem like a good one for the Chiefs offense. (I’ll go over that in the next section.) So if they have to face the Chiefs offense sooner and more often that’s not good. (Also, the Chiefs offense has the ability to run a lot of plays and keep opposing defenses on the field. If the Bucs offense doesn’t do the same, the Bucs offense could get worn out.)
One last thing about the second option: The Chiefs are not just a “fast-break” offense. They can also play “half-court” football. That is, they can control the clock fairly well. If the Bucs don’t have long drives, the Chiefs could keep the Bucs defense on the field for long stretches and wear them out.
The first option, in my view, gives the Bucs the best chance to win. If the Bucs can pound the ball and keep the ball away from the Chiefs offenses for long stretches and reduce their possessions, their defense can be in a good position to contain them, and maybe even get turnovers and score. Additionally, by running a lot and effectively, that can limit opportunities for Brady to throw a lot. If Brady throws over 30 times, I think the Bucs chances of winning go down quite a bit. If he can throw less than 30—because the run game is doing so well—that gives them the best chance to win in my view. I saw a headline that said this is one of the best QB match-ups in Super Bowl history. I don’t agree. Brady is like Manning against Newton or Elway against Favre. (He’s playing a little better than those two were at that point, but they were all at the point where the QBs need protecting—they had to win with defense, ST, and the run game.)
While the Bucs have the potential to play this way, I tend to think they won’t. By “won’t,” I include the inability to do so. I’m a little skeptical that the Bucs will be able to run well and run a lot. My sense is that the Chiefs will allow one-on-one match-ups on deep throws, and just bank on the pass rush and/or Brady to make a mistake. Also, I didn’t mention this, but I’m a little skeptical that the Bucs will be able to contain Hill and really limit explosive plays. I say this because an aggressive style, particularly in their front seven—not a more bend-but-don’t-break, relying on coverage. They may be able to generate pressure with their front four, but will the back seven be good enough to prevent explosive plays? Maybe, but that’s not the way they normally play.
Personally, I would be inclined to take out a D-linemen, add a LB, and take out a LB and add another DB. In other words, a defense that can take away the best, but vulnerable to the run. If the Chiefs run 30+ times for 200 yards and win, so be it—as long the Chiefs don’t have any explosive pass plays. The hope is that the Chiefs won’t run as much as they should and that will result in one or more turnovers. This is what the Patriots seemed to do and almost succeeded. But the thing is, would Bowles do this, and even he did, could their defense execute this well? In the first meeting, their defense gave up explosive plays—to Hill, I believe. The one thing: I would not want Hill to beat me. Kelce, too, if possible. If those two guys have quiet games, and other players make big plays, I could live with that—way more than those two guys going off.
20 thoughts on “2020-2021 Super Bowl: Buccaneers vs. Chiefs”
I have Chiefs 30, Buccaneers 17. This is actually more points for KC than I feel comfortable with, but they keep scoring more than I think they will. With the Chiefs, I often see the score at the end of a game and think the team I saw was not as good as that.
I think everyone feels Tampa Bay’s defense has to be at its best, and that’s certainly a possibility. However, nobody’s defense is its best for every down in every series, and the Chiefs offense doesn’t need that many chances. I expect a lot of mid-range quick throws turning into big plays.
Brady has been terrible while being blitzed this season, so I expect the Buccaneers to throw a lot of hurried dumps to backs and receivers (in response to perhaps increased blitzing by KC) on the outside for very little gain. I don’t think they can win this way. Sure, allow for a few big plays to Evans or Brown or Godwin, but I see these leading more to FGs than TDs. Call that a feeling.
The Chiefs can absolutely be beaten. I’m not feeling it this time.
The score seems reasonable. I want to say a lot depends on how long both offenses hold onto the ball, as well as ST plays. (Big plays can give great field possessions, leading to quick scores/possessions.) If both teams has several long possessions, that’s going to limit the final score.
Yes, but if the Bucs can play well in the red zone, holding the Chiefs to some field goals, and the Bucs can control the ball and score TDs when they get in the red zone, they could give up a handful of explosive plays, especially if the Chiefs offense have a lot of long fields.
Again, I think so much comes down to the Bucs run game. If it’s a big factor (e.g., one of their RBs running for 28 times for 120 yards), their offense should be having long possessions that eat up the clock. That will put the defense in the best position to slow down the Chiefs. And it should limit Brady’s pass attempts, which will decrease the chances of a turnover. I don’t feel good about them doing this.
This sounds right to me. Fournette has been awful at catching these swing passes. He needs to be better. But even if he does, I feel like this type of passing is a weakness of Arians offense. In my opinion, the inability to do this well was one of the key reasons they lost to the Panthers in 2015. I don’t see the Bucs do this enough times or getting enough explosive plays (as you say) to be significant.
Some funny things I’ve heard this week.
Tom Brady is only 7 years younger than Pat Mahomes, the former major league baseball player. Patrick Mahomes’s father.
Rob Gronkowski is younger than Travis Kelce.
I agree with the both of you and would put my money on the Chiefs. I guess it might be obvious based on my feelings on how the Bucs played against the Pack. The one thing you guys didn’t mention or I might have missed it, is that the Bucs did well in getting pressure against a Pack o-line that has been better than the Chiefs’ all year. Yes Bahktiari was out, but Fisher will be out for the Chiefs and they already had the other tackle out for a while. The game plan for the Bucs’ D should be double Hill all over the field, and try to get to Mahomes. We have seen the Chiefs’ offense look pedestrian this year, and the Bucs will have to do that to give themselves a chance.
Gronk being younger than Kelce is sort of a surprise.
Chiefs pass pro might be vulnerable, and if the Bucs can rush four and capitalize that would be great, but as I mentioned, rushing four and relying on good coverage (maybe confusing Mahomes) doesn’t seem to be Bowles’s MO. This is one reason I feel like the match-up isn’t so great for the Bucs.
I didn’t think Bowles looks as “reckless” blitzing this year than I have seen in other years. I also thought, they were rushing five, but not more, against he Pack. If I had more faith in the Buc’s offense, I might pick them. I think it’s possible for the Buc’s front seven, to win this game. I will be really surprised if the Chief’s offense look as potent as they did against the Bills in this one. I think in the playoff games, the Chiefs punted once in two games? They will punt more than once against the Bucs, double their playoff output thus far.
I was just listening to GM shuffle, and Lombardi mentioned that the Bucs were one of the highest blitzing teams (5th?). They don’t do crazy blitzes, not as much as before (no defenses blitz like 15 years ago), but they’re more on the aggressive side of the scale, relying on the pass rush, including biltzing, more than great coverage. We’ll see, though.
Bucs defense doing well–the key: nothing to Hill or Kelce;
Bucs offense not doing great, but they have creative plays (e.g., screens to TES); trying to establish the run
I like the Bucs going for it on 4th and goal. Bucs defense playing good so far, but it’s likely they won’t be able to hold and the Bucs will need TDs;
3 penalties kill the Chiefs–neutralizing an INT, giving two critical first downs– helping the Bucs score a TD.
The story of the first half: Bucs defense and penalties by Chiefs defense.
Another thing: The Bucs offense really emphasizing more of the short passing game, which is a surprise. I think the Bucs only threw one deep pass so far. The Chiefs blitz/pass rush is a non-factor.
OK, so basically almost everything I predicted was wrong:
I’m interested in hearing your impressions on the following questions:
1. Which was a bigger factor–the Bucs’ coverage or pass rush? (Or to put it another way: What was the bigger problem–the Chiefs’ pass pro or the Chiefs’ ability to get open?
2. Did the Bucs have a good balanced attack? Did they run the ball well? Did they do a good job of controlling the clock?
3. Do you think the Chiefs should have ran the ball more? How did the Chiefs run game look to you?
4. To what extent do you think the Bucs followed the great defense/ST, strong running, and good ball security and good QB play on a handful of plays?
With the regard to this last point, I read that the Bucs played two high safeties for 80+% of their snaps, much more than they usually do. If that’s true, I tend to think you have to run, and run well, to force them out of this.
Using stats from the game, it seems like the Bucs TOP on their drives weren’t that outstanding. The thing is, the Chiefs TOP on each possession wasn’t that great, either–especially in the first half. I would say the Bucs limiting the duration of the Chiefs drives was a big accomplishment.
I would say for a first time in a while, the Chiefs o-line looked really bad. Reid and I expressed concerned in the middle of the year, but the Chiefs o-line and essentially the entire offense seem to have turned that around down the stretch. But this is one of the worse o-line performances of the year. In my eyes Shaq Barrett could have won the MVP. I’m not sure what his stats were, but he seem to get around his guy on every fourth play (maybe less). I will add that if teams are able to take away Hill by doubling him on every play, other than Kelce underneath Kansas City’s receivers may not be as great as they look, especially if Mahomes is running for his life.
The Bucs offense started the same way in this one as they did the Green Bay game, sans some amazing passes from Brady. It wasn’t good at all for a short period of time. The short passes helped, but I think the running game was the key. The Bucs seem like they could run at will at times. The Chiefs had no answers.
The Chiefs should have run the ball more, but it would have been more of the draw type plays or jet sweeps. Traditional running plays was pretty ineffective against the Bucs.
I’m not 100% sure what you are asking in the last question. The Bucs dominated both sides of the ball especially in the trenches. In terms of STs, the Chief’s punter had the yips (or just not enough reps in the previous two games) so you can say the Bucs dominated ST as well. But I thought overall the Chief’s STs look good especially on kick-off returns and field goals.
The two high safeties is what the Bills were doing too, but the Chiefs didn’t need to run the ball to get the Bills out of it. The difference seem to be the Bucs doubled Hill on every play and sometime Kelce as well. But the other Chiefs receivers MO is they run long routes and take time to get open, which Mahomes didn’t have. I’m not sure why Watson wasn’t playing more and getting some possession receptions. I wonder if the LBs for Bucs was able to take away too much underneath. David seem to blanket Kelce at times, and White seem to be able to take away any runs to the outside.
How did you guys think Mahomes played? I thought he looked like the best player on the field most of the night despite his awful performance stats-wise.
Based on what you said, it sounds like you think the Bucs pass rush was a bigger reason for their success than the coverage. You don’t the coverage made the OL worse than they seemed? I know the Chiefs tackles were struggling, but, for the most part, they gave lanes for Mahomes to either run or extend plays. With Mahomes, Wilson, and Rodgers, if an OL does this, even if they’re not forming clean pockets that last long, the passing game can be productive—IF the pass-catchers can get open. The Chiefs would kill defenses this way, even on long-yardage downs. But the Bucs weren’t allowing the Chiefs to get open—not often—and not for a lot of explosive plays. (As you alluded to, David had some nice plays covering Kelce on those short, middle of the field throws.)
Huh. That wasn’t my impression. I thought they did fairly well, but not to the point where they could “run at will.” I got that more of that impression on a 4th quarter drive, with about 13:00 minutes to go. They ran like five in a row, for about 4-8 yards per carry. The Bucs ended up punting, but that was an underrated drive in my view. It was 9 plays, about 4:00 minutes off the clock. If the 49ers had a drive like that in the 4th, in last year’s Super Bowl, maybe they win the game.
(I went back to look at the first half runs, and the yards gained looks a little better than I remembered.)
You could be right. The Bucs did seem to snuff out the more conventional runs, and they are good at that, but the Chiefs really didn’t try to seriously test this. E-H had only 9 carries in the game. In any event, I think not having a threat of a run game, against this defense, hurt a lot.
There are different blueprints for the way teams are built. For example, the Chiefs are built on a great passing offense, a solid, but not great D. (They do have a good ST, overall.) Another blueprint involves a great D/ST and a strong physical run-based offense. To what extent did the Bucs fit the latter? That’s what I’m asking. Maybe it’s obvious. Certainly, their defense played great, and physical. The run game was a factor—but did you think they functioned in a run-based style, whether the run was setting up the pass?
I wouldn’t give credit to the Bucs ST for the Chiefs’ punting problems. And by the way, those two punts were huge, huge. They gave the Bucs really good field positions. If we name like 7 critical moments in the game, those two might make the list.
Right, but that’s generally not a good approach, right? Sure, if you have an OL that can block four and give your QB all day, and you’ve got a lot of pass-catching weapons, you can defeat a defense without running. But this is hard to achieve—and the Chiefs were missing two of their starting tackles. And even if you can achieve it against most NFL defenses, if you face a great defense, as you could in the Super Bowl, then you can be in trouble. These players plus great scheming/play calling might not be enough.
On the other hand, if you have a balanced attack—if you could force the defense to attend to the run game–I feel like this is a more effective way to beating a great defense. I’d rather face a great defense with very good balanced offense than a great one-dimensional offense.
But even when he extended the plays, I feel like WRs/TEs seemed to struggle to get open—that’s one of the big differences—maybe the biggest differences from this game to many others. And as I mentioned, I don’t get the sense this type of great coverage is the Bucs forte. If it’s a really different style from their normal approach, and they were able to succeed, a lot of kudos to them.
I tend to agree with you. You have to factor in the pass protection and coverage he faced. It’s similar to how and why I thing Russ has been great for much of his career. Indeed, the way Mahomes played was similar to the Russ in this game. (Mahomes even spun back into those Tarkentonian scrambles—and he also completed the passes!) What’s interesting to me is that Mahomes has a great play caller and play designer in Andy Reid, but the Chiefs were still relying heavily (too much) on Mahomes’s ability to improvise in my view. (Again, this is similar to the Seahawks and Russ.) In other words, Reid couldn’t scheme open the WRs/TEs.
Yeah you could be right that the DBs of the Bucs played unbelievably, but it’s hard to not concentrate on the horrible Chief’s o-line. It was really bad at times. As I stated Barrett could have been the MVP. I think if there are any criticisms of Mahomes, it would be he couldn’t trust his o-line and was leaving the pocket too early at times. But it’s really hard to blame a guy when his o-line was playing so badly.
They was a point in the third quarter where KC was keying to stop the run – even Romo pointed it out, and Tampa still was running the ball effectively. This kinda happen in the fourth as well. The first quarter I thought the Bucs looked very much like the Bucs offense against the Packers, but when the Bucs started scoring, to me outside of the Chiefs’ penalties, what the Bucs were able to do on the ground was the key. And it didn’t look like KC could stop them in parts of the game. Do you think Brady played way better in the Super Bowl then against the Packers? Yeah Brady’s three horrible INTs against the Packers may have almost cost the Bucs the game, but Brady also had some unbelievable Brady-like plays in the Packer’s game. I didn’t think Brady deserved the MVP in the Super Bowl, even though he had the three TD passes. Did you think the Bucs offense in general looked better against the Packers? And if not, wasn’t it because of the difference in the run game?
You asked if the “Buc’s run game was setting up the pass”? To me it’s hard to gauge the Buc’s offense overall. The biggest factor seem to be the defensive penalties by the Chiefs. You take that away, and I’m not sure how many points the Bucs score (especially TDs). The passing game of the Bucs looks average at best. Brady only put up 200 yards, whereas the run game of the Bucs looked much more productive than what we saw from the previous Bucs’ playoff games. We saw a much different Bucs offense for sure in terms of no vertical passing game, but they didn’t seem to mix it up well if that’s what you mean.
I think Mahomes and Reid makes their receiving corp look better than they are. Outside of Kelce if you placed these receivers on other teams, I’m not sure they will play very much. Even Hill can be stopped if you double him.
You’re talking to someone who has watched every Russell Wilson game—so I don’t blame Mahomes for leaving the pocket too early—and I’m not sure if he did. And I don’t blame you for focusing on the pass protection. It wasn’t good, but I just feel like the Chiefs offense could have been functional and productive if the pass-catchers got open. Indeed, when this occurred, Mahomes made good completions. But those opportunities didn’t seem to happen enough.
(I just want to say that Wilson has gone through seasons where the OL has been like this—and actually much worse—worse as in committing a lot of penalties or just allowing in untouched pass rushers and struggling to consistently form a u-shaped pocket. But this is not to say that I think the Chiefs pass protection was fine. It definitely was not.)
I agree that the Bucs run game was important during the phases you’re talking about. And when I looked at the actual yardage for the first and second half possessions, it was better than I remember—so maybe “unstoppable” is correct. Although it’s important to note that two of these possessions started with good field positions because of those bad punts.
Those three INTs alone, make his Super Bowl performance better. But against the Pack, he also missed on a critical 2nd down pass with about 5:00 left in the 4th (The WR was open, but Brady sailed it over his head). That might have lead to a TD, and if nothing else more time off the clock.
No, the Bucs offense looked significantly better in the Super Bowl. The turnovers were huge, and I think the running did make them look better. But they seem to have to some good pass plays—particularly short passes that solid YAC. Fournette didn’t drop any passes, and he caught 4 for 46 yards. The TEs seemed to do more damage as well, but their WRs were kinda quiet. (Evans also had a bad drop on a deep pass in the Packers game.) I can’t think of many bad plays for the Bucs offense in this game, whereas there were several in the Packers game. This, more productive short passing game, and better running—all that made this a better offensive performance.
I can’t remember if I said this, but I complained about the Bucs offense being vanilla for most of the year. It was much less so in the Super Bowl. Arians/Leftwich displayed more creativity, in my opinion, than in most of the whole year. I think they had two run plays were they pulled linemen, and I don’t think they really do that.
And this short passing style is outside of Arians’s offense. There was really no “no-risk-it-no-bisquit” approach. Indeed, the number one objective for the Bucs’ offense was neutralizing the blitz. And they did that–with quick passing game.
Bowles didn’t seem to blitz a lot either.
Would you say that they both outcoached Reid and Spags? I tend to think so, although it’s not so much the fault of the latter. It just seemed like Arians/Bowles went against their identity, and that’s a risky and hard thing to pull off. As an opponent, I don’t think you prepare for that–although Reid/Spags really didn’t adjust well. For example, if the Chiefs have a truly balanced offense, they could lean on the run game. Props to Arians and Bowles for pulling this off. I certainly didn’t think they would what they did, and if they did, I wouldn’t expect it to be as successful as it was.
Not just those penalties (I found out 6 for first downs), but those two bad punts. Those two bad punts lead to 10 points. Those penalties contributed to 2 TDs—although sometimes you have to credit the offense for those (but not the 15 yard penalty by Chris Jones). Take away those punts, and I wonder if they would have scored. It’s hard to say though.
I talking about the design of the offense—the way it’s supposed to function. For example, when you watch the Titans or Vikings, it’s clear the run sets up the pass. With the Chiefs, it’s clear that relationship is inverted. With some teams it can be harder to decipher. I think with the way the Bucs played in the Super Bowl it was harder to decipher. They wanted a balance attack, but it wasn’t clear if they were using the run to set up the pass. In way they just flip-flopped between running and a quick passing game—both being equally foundational, if that makes sense.
I think you’re slightly downplaying how good Hill is. Defenses can double Hill, but that generally seemed to open things up for others, including Kelce. How many drops were there? It seemed like there were a bunch and also errant passes by Mahomes (which I don’t totally blame him for). I didn’t key on the DBs and LBs, but I’m guessing they were roughing up the Chiefs pass-catchers. Basically that’s what you have to do against teams like the Chiefs. But I think if the Chiefs ran more and ran effectively, the Bucs would not have been able to do that so well.
You think Hardman and Pringle are starters on other teams. These guys are flashy, but I cannot see them as starters. They remind me of a poor man’s Tavon Austin. I think Robinson has a chance – he seems pretty legitimate at times and of course Watkins is (or maybe was) a good player. But Watkins and Robinson was nonexistent in the entire playoffs, and if someone told me Hardman and Pringle cannot get open one on one, I wouldn’t doubt it. Julio Jones type players are harder to double just because of what they can do with slants and winning off the line of scrimmage. I’ve seen Hill get loose double coverage and be taken out of plays. Hill seem to be able to beat any coverage with cross the field type routes, but those take time to develop even for Hill.
No, not really. But I think with Hill and Kelce–plus, Reid–they’re able to be factors on their team. I don’t think teams can just take Hill out of the game and expect to have great success against the Chiefs offense. It’s not necessarily easy to take him out the game, too.
I thought it was a fun first half. Good game for thirty minutes.
I lean toward good Tampa Bay coverage as the main factor. Mahomes doesn’t need a lot of time, and he’s pretty evasive, so he doesn’t need too much time, even when hurried. But he wasn’t finding guys open the way he usually does.
Man, he made some amazing throws, displays of great physical talent. Too bad his guys didn’t hang onto them.
It looked like the plan for both teams was to run it, but KC didn’t have as much success, and then they were pretty far behind.
I thought the Buccaneers ran it well, especially if you count the short passes to Fournette as runs.
I think I heard someone say Mahomes ran 400+ yards behind the line, getting away from pursuers.
It’s hard to blame the Chiefs. Injuries happen, and theirs were terrible, and their injuries played right into Tampa Bay’s strengths.
I wasn’t really rooting for anyone (although I pretty much never root for the Chiefs), but when Gronkowski made the first TD catch, I was genuinely happy for him. And then when he made the next, I cheered. Good for him.
Thanks for answering the questions.
Yeah, I heard about the yardage Mahomes scrambled. That’s crazy.
Now, this I don’t really agree with. I think even before the game gotta away from them, they had opportunities.
I was cheering for Brady for the first time in my life (that I remember anyway). I would never cheer for Brady and the Pats. But Brady with the Bucs, I had to cheer for the old guy. He needed to show he could do it without Belichick.
You rooted for the Eagles against the Patriots?
Maybe I didn’t cheer for either, but if I had to choose I would have chosen the Eagles. I hated the dynasty Pats.