Breaking Down the Most Important Matchups in Super Bowl LV: Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers has an abundance of storylines, all starting at the quarterback position.
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes will be facing off for the second time this season, as Mahomes’ Chiefs won a week 12 matchup by a score of 27-24. Kansas City came out the gates firing in this one, scoring the first 17 points in the contest — all coming in the first quarter of action.
After eventually hanging on for a narrow victory, many are expecting another high scoring affair this Sunday when the two tangle once again in SuperBowl LV.
For the reigning champions, their pursuit for a title defense began against a resurgent Cleveland Browns team. Mahomes was knocked out of this contest due to a concussion sustained in the second half, as head coach Andy Reid was forced to rely on seasoned veteran Chad Henne to seal the victory.
Just a short week after, Mahomes cleared the NFL’s staunch concussion protocol, leading them to a home drubbing over the Bills — 38-24.
On the other hand, Brady’s Bucs had quite the postseason run, defeating a pair of hall of fame quarterbacks along the way in Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Now the two gunslingers meet in the postseason for just a second time, as Brady led his former team, the New England Patriots, to a huge road victory over Kansas City in the 2019 AFC Conference Championship, which eventually catapulted Brady and the Pats to a 6th Super Bowl title.
In any event, let’s take a deeper look into the matchups that will likely decide this year’s champion.
Tyreek Hill vs Carlton Davis III
If Tampa has any chance of slowing down this potent Kansas City pass attack, they must find an answer for speedster wide out Tyreek Hill.
The 26 year old Hill has recorded back to back 100 yard games so far this postseason, as he went for a whopping 172 yards on 9 grabs in their last contest against Buffalo.
Bucs Defensive Coordinator, Todd Bowles, will have his hands full devising various coverages to try and slow down the man known as ‘cheetah’, as third year cornerback Carlton Davis III will likely see the bulk of the work against Hill.
Davis III has been Tampa’s most consistent DB this season, as consecutive impressive outings against All Pro’s Michael Thomas and Davante Adams has suddenly catapulted him into the discussion of the league’s best corners.
If the Bucs secondary can at least limit some of those vaunted big plays down the middle of the field, they should be in great position to pull off a Super Bowl upset this Sunday.
Mike Evans vs L’Jarius Sneed
Continuing with the theme of outside matchups, on the other side of the ball, expect an absolute dog fight between Bucs receiver Mike Evans and Chiefs rookie L’Jarius Sneed.
Two players with notoriously high tempers, this grudge match could decide how efficient Tampa Bay will be in the red zone, as Brady has been consistently looking Evans way when the Bucs get in goal-to-go situations.
With a team-high 13 touchdowns on the season, Evans has been one of the best red zone targets in the league this year — often relying on his 6’5” frame to bully smaller defenders.
Sneed is a modest 6’1”, so this size discrepancy could play a factor when BRady and the Bucs get in close, so I’d expect a fair amount of bracket-side help from All Pro safety Tyrann Matheiu.
If Evans gets bottled up, expect bigger performances out of receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, as these guys are more than capable of carrying the load through the air.
Chris Jones vs the Bucs O-Line
Last but not least, a matchup yet to garner much attention, the duel between stud defensive tackle Chris Jones and a trio of Bucs interior offensive lineman — most notably center Ryan Jensen and guard Ali Marpet — will be one to closely monitor in the early going.
Brady has benefited immensely by his elite pass protection of his offensive line, as Jensen and Marpet have both turned in dominant seasons once again in 2020.
They will be tasked with slowing down the 26 year old Jones, who has completely wrecked games for opposing offenses.
It will be crucial for Tampa to win the battle up front, as the trenches have been mostly dominated by the Bucs all season long.
Also, it should be worth monitoring how rookie right tackle, Tristan Wirfs, holds up against defensive end Frank Clark, as this will be another marquee matchup worth keeping an eye on up front.