The Road to the Big Game

Super Bowl prediction: KC- 34, TB-26

Jonathan Liu, Reporter

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic taking over the world, all major sports were in jeopardy, especially football. 

As the NFL figured out their different health and safety protocols and ways to battle difficulties such as rescheduling games because of COVID, players and fans were rewarded with the anticipated Super Bowl. 

This year’s Super Bowl is number 55 of the Super Bowl Era, with a matchup between the defending NFL Champs and current AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs and the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The two teams that got to this destination did not get here by accident. 

The Kansas City Chiefs got to this game with a regular season of 14-2 and the first seed in the AFC playoffs. 

Every week they took care of their business racking up wins and building good habits while doing so. 

They are led by coach Andy Reid, who coached previously for the Philadelphia Eagles until 2012. 

Standout Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy leads the Kansas City elite offense that scores around 30 points per game. 

The stars of the offense are the same from last year’s Super Bowl team with 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, speedster at Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill, and 6’5 standout Tight End in Travis Kelce. 

Their defense is lead by Steve Spagnuolo with star players such as Safety Tyrann Mathieu and D’Lineman Chris Jones and Frank Clark on the edge. 

Their playoff path was filled with some challenges as in the Divisional Round, Patrick Mahomes left the game in the second half due to a concussion against the Cleveland Browns. 

With the score being 22-17 in the final minute of the 4th quarter, backup quarterback Chad Henne threw a first down to Tyreek Hill as the Chiefs escaped. 

In the AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills, they fell down early, 9-0 after an early field goal and touchdown by the Bills after some mistakes such as a muffed punt by Mecole Hardman. 

They then routed the Bills for the rest of the game as they won 38-24 to make it to the Super Bowl in back to back years. 

The other team playing on Super Bowl Sunday are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Their regular season wasn’t the greatest as they started off 7-5 before their bye week, but they picked up their play and ended the regular season with four wins.

 They are of course led by arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady who decided to join them in the offseason after many years with the New England Patriots. 

Their offense is dynamic with big receivers such as Mike Evans and breakout star Chris Godwin. 

Brady’s old running mate Rob Gronkowski tags along with the offense along with Leonard Forunette who signed with the Bucs right before the season started. 

Their coaching staff is led by veteran head coach Bruce Arians who has been apart of many playoff teams such as the Arizona Cardinals back in 2015 when they made it to the NFC Championship game but fell short. 

Their playoff path to the Super Bowl was different from the Chiefs. Without the first seed, the Bucs played in Wildcard weekend against the Washington Football Team and standout defensive rookie Chase Young, but ended up winning 31-23.

 In the Divisional Round, they played on the road vs their division Rival New Orleans Saints led by Drew Brees and star wide receiver Michael Thomas. 

The Saints beat the Bucs in the regular season both times they played them. In week one, 34-23, and in week 9 38-3.

 In this game, the Bucs forced four turnovers on the Saints as they ended up winning convincingly 30-20. 

In the NFC Championship game, they had to go on the road to play the first seed Green Bay Packers with probable MVP Aaron Rodgers and one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Davante Adams. 

Green Bay had the best offense in the league as they put up 31.5 points per game in the regular season. 

As the game went on the Bucs held a 28-10 lead which then got cut to 28-23. As the game dwindled down big plays by Tom Brady on offense, and the Bucs defense held the Packers to 26 points as the Bucs won 31-26 in a game with many momentum swings. 

As these teams set to match up, they will have game film as they did play each other earlier in the season back in week 12 when the Chiefs won 27-24. 

Tyreek Hill had 13 receptions with 269 yards and three touchdowns to cap off his offensive clinic. 

An interesting to look at in this game is how the Bucs defend him after getting embarrassed by him in the previous matchup. 

The Bucs have matched up with top tier receivers in the playoffs though, with Michael Thomas and Davante Adams. 

Michael Thomas ended with zero reception on four targets and Davante Adams had nine receptions on 15 targets for 67 yards. 

This matchup with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce who also had eight receptions in the regular season matchup might possibly determine the outcome of the game. 

If the Bucs can’t contain those two, it could be a long day for them no matter what Tom Brady does. 

Prediction: KC: 34 TB: 26