Super Bowl LV has the makings to be one of the best Super Bowl games in a while. We have the electric quarterback matchup of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. However, the depth of these two squads is what makes this even more exciting. The playmakers on each offense, the do it all defenders and the aggressive minded coaching staffs will present a matchup that all NFL fans should enjoy. Especially after a season surrounded by COVID-19, football fans should not take this Chiefs and Buccaneers meeting for granted.
In the next couple of days, we will focus our attention to the deep depth of both teams. We will be listing our three key matchups for each side of the ball. Today, our matchups to watch for will feature the Mahomes-led Kansas City offense and the Tampa Bay defense. Stay tuned for the Kansas City defense and Tampa Bay offense matchups for tomorrow on Thursday.
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Travis Kelce vs Devin White
For Kelce, he may garner more open looks this time around, compared to the first game in Tampa. Tyreek Hill had a record setting day. So one would imagine, the Buccaneers will be looking to take him away more so than anybody else. Kelce still had a highly productive day himself (eight catches, 82 receiving yards and 10.25 yards per reception). Nonetheless, that was the tight end’s only game after the bye week where he had less than double digit targets (8). And that was on a day where Mahomes set a single game career high in completions (37).
In two playoff games so far, Kelce has registered 25 targets in two games. New single game playoff career highs have been set for receiving yards. And he has become more than just a security blanket for Mahomes. The Cincinnati product appears to get the most open on crucial, got to have it downs. He is more than just a tight end as well, where the Chiefs love to deploy him more as a wide receiver-like weapon.
On the flip side, White has proven that he can run with any playmaker down the field. With some of the better route running technicians, he has shown he can stick to a receiver’s hip. This allows White to make plays on the football with his awareness and stout nose for the ball. Elsewhere, the LSU product is quick to read and react to passes thrown in front of him. When flying downhill, White is not only one of more solid tacklers, but he is also a player who can create opportunistic turnovers. Most of all, his speed, range and instincts in the open field will make for a compelling matchup when White covers Kelce. The Chiefs must be aware of him lurking or reading the eyes of Mahomes.
Chiefs Interior Offensive Line vs Vita Vea
We have already hit on the daunting presence of the defensive end duo of Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett throughout the past week. Yet, there is another formidable force we have yet to touch on that deeply. Defensive tackle Vita Vea made his return from injured reserve in the NFC Championship Game. Originally, the defender was believed to be out for the entire season after suffering a broken leg in Week Five. His return not only caught the Green Bay Packers off guard. It gave the Buccaneers pass rush a spark that was not quite there during the second half of the season.
Despite lining up as a defensive tackle, Vea plays with a style of a defensive end. His mixture of power and speed at the point of attack are unique for a 347 pounder on the interior. Vea understands how to administer his leverage. Moreover, his existence on the inside is not that dissimilar from what Aaron Donald brings to the Rams defense. We saw other defenders like Leonard Floyd, Michael Brockers, Morgan Fox, Sebastian Joseph-Day and even Samson Ebukam see plenty of opportunities open up for them. Vea creates open shots at the quarterback from other parts of the defense as well.
We know that the Chiefs are down to four backup offensive linemen. After Eric Fisher got hurt in the AFC Championship Game, the interior from left to right was now Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter and Stefen Wisniewski. It is not clear if that will be the exact lineup for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. For a blocking unit that struggled most of the season, they have performed admirably in the playoffs. That includes the interior.
Reiter has not allowed a sack since last year’s Super Bowl, believe it or not. That comes from a result of 678 pass block reps. Allegretti has gained the trust of Andy Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff. He has fared very well against some of the more difficult defenders. Finally, Wisniewski was an x-factor for the offensive line in last year’s Super Bowl. The same could be the case this time around. Can they withstand the impact of Vea for the entire game?
Speed vs Speed
This may not be an aspect that jumps out to fans entering Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs offense possesses some of the fastest threats. Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins (if healthy) and both Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Darrel Williams can all pick up yardage instantly. This is also an item that remains consistent, even if the play appears to have no room to gain yardage.
Whereas, the Buccaneers back seven has some speed demons of their own. We mentioned White earlier. He combines with Lavonte David to form an intimidating linebacker combo. Both have the range and short area quickness to surprise opponents when flying up in the open field. Safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead (if healthy) can provide the same capabilities at the safety position. Whether they are coming downhill, running laterally, or staying on top of routes, both are able to shoot out of a cannon.
How much will the Chiefs offense force the Buccaneers defenders to take over-eager chances? Will Tampa Bay remain honest with their angles and assignments? That could be the difference in Kansas City lighting up the scoreboard or scoring a rather pedestrian number for their standards.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs Super Bowl articles throughout the rest of the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.