It is Super Bowl week. In what has been a different NFL season than we are all used to, it is a credit to the league that there have been no major stoppages in the season and that we are at this stage.
The Super Bowl is also vastly different from the usual build-up, with virtual media days being held.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their stadium, as they look to dethrone the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are some key matchups to look out for in Sunday’s game.
The Chiefs’ Offensive Line Vs Tampa Bay’s Defense
Kansas City was dealt a huge blow, with offensive lineman Eric Fisher suffering an Achilles injury during the AFC Championship win over the Buffalo Bills.
2013’s first overall pick has been an excellent player for the Chiefs, reaching two Pro Bowls during his NFL career so far. He has proved to be excellent protection for star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. How will the Chiefs manage without Fisher?
Mike Remmers will be the man to replace Fisher. He will have a tough task along with his other linemen in stopping this Tampa defense.
Tampa’s defense has been a big part of this team’s success along with their excellent offense. The linebacker position is where Tampa excel. Jason Pierre-Paul is rolling back the years, with 9.5 sacks in the 2020 regular season.
Devin White was drafted fifth overall in 2019 and has recorded 9 sacks in the regular season. Shaq Barrett was an undrafted free agent in 2014 and has managed to become a key part of this defense. He has been able to record 8 sacks in the 2020 regular season.
This is a huge test for this Chiefs offensive line, can they protect Mahomes and neutralise one of Tampa Bay’s biggest strengths?
The Goat Vs Baby Goat
Brady vs Mahomes is the obvious matchup. It is arguably the best quarterback battle in a Super Bowl we have ever seen. In Brady, we have someone who is going to be playing in their tenth Super Bowl looking for their seventh ring. In Mahomes, judging by how he has started his NFL career, he has every chance to overtake Brady as the GOAT.
The record so far is 2-2 between Mahomes and Brady, the most recent coming in week 12 of the 2020 season. The pair combined for 807 passing yards as the Chiefs won 27-24.
Tyreek Hill recorded 203 receiving yards in the first quarter during the Week 12 win and the Chiefs wide receiver will be Mahomes’ biggest offensive weapon on Sunday, as he has been all season.
The fastest player in the league had a field day against the Tampa Bay secondary and will be hoping for similar results on Sunday. As the week 12 game went on, we saw more double coverage on Tyreek Hill, which is why we only saw Hill record 66 more yards in the other three quarters. The Buccaneers also double-teamed tight end Travis Kelce. This will need to be the method taken by the Buccaneers defense.
Kelce has proved his worth to Mahomes and this Chiefs offense during his likely hall of fame career. In the biggest games, Kelce has produced time after time.
Against the Bills in the AFC Championship, Kelce caught for 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Super Bowl 54 last year, Kelce caught for a crucial touchdown that kept Kansas City in the game as they went on to hold the Lombardi trophy that night.
In the divisional round last season, when the Chiefs came back from 24-0 down to beat the Texans 51-31, Kelce was influential as he went on to score three touchdowns and catch for 134 yards.
Kelce can be a huge factor in this game, which the Buccaneers will need to watch out for.
However, no player has been more pivotal in the big game than Tom Brady.
Brady has the experience to help Tampa Bay. They will want to keep the Chiefs offense off the field for as long as possible and Brady has been the master of grinding down the field throughout his career.
Chiefs Running Game Vs The Tampa Bay Run Defense
Should Mahomes struggle, then he will need to lean on his running backs.
Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a question mark around his health going into this game, with limited game-time in recent weeks.
Le’Veon Bell is also a doubt for this game. Is this the game where Darrell Williams announces himself to the world?
Williams was the lead back during the Bills win in what was a run deficient offense. Despite this, Williams scored a touchdown and ran for 52 yards.
He will have a tough game against the regular season’s number one ranked run defense in the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay has managed this without defensive tackle Vita Vea for most of the season but had him back against the Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Vea is one of the best run stoppers in the league, which makes their defensive line with Vea back in the team an even scarier proposition.
The Chiefs will hope for Helaire and Bell back to give some variety to their run game. Otherwise, they may be forced to predominantly pass for the majority of this game.
NFL fans, you are in for a treat on Sunday. Sit back, assemble your snacks and enjoy what has every potential of being the best Super Bowl of all time.