After covering the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders for the last seven years and following them for the last few decades, the Chiefs remain a problem. Yet, you cannot, in good conscience, deride anything this team accomplishes on the field or front office. However, when most of the AFC effectively fell at their feet, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel like the perfect team to dethrone them. In fact, here’s why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should walk out with another Lombardi.
Zero QB Fear
For all the press clippings and hype, nothing Patrick Mahomes does will scare Tampa. Granted, they played earlier in the year. Jason Licht constructed this team, proverbially bow to stern, unfazed by opposing quarterbacks. Now, if you’re honest, Tampa’s secondary remains a concern. In contrast, the front seven attacks downhill, regardless of the signalcaller. Buying into the Mahomes mystique will not occur. In fact, the Bucs practice against their own elite quarterback in practice. In fact, during their Week 12 matchup, the Bucs held the Chiefs to seven second-half points.
To beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, opposing defenses need to get home early, often, and with force. The Eagles and Giants used a fierce pass rush to disrupt Brady. Honestly, the Chiefs boast Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Outside of that, decent players litter the front seven. Remember, the Raiders torched the Chiefs defense twice. In 2020, the defense surrendered over 400 yards six times. While Tyrann Mathieu gives Kansas City on the back end, his supporting cast in the secondary can’t keep up with the quartet of receivers and two tight ends. People hyperfocus on who covers Tyreek Hill, but who shadows Godwin, Evans, Miller, and Brown? The Chiefs’ secondary depth is thinner than Bud Light.
An Angry Interior
Lost within the offensive wizardry of the Bucs, resides an angry, fast-moving defense. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea allow the Bucs’ defense to thrive. When Vea returned early from injury, that defense felt different. The nearly-immovable nose tackle frees up everyone, regardless of the called play. Gobbling up double teams while still crushing the pocket should never go unnoticed. Quarterbacks love the ability to climb the pocket, feeling zero heat from the middle. Also, running between the tackles sets up playaction. While their sack totals don’t set off alarms, Vea and Suh make the pass rush. Collapsing the pocket from the middle forces Mahomes into the arms of the awaiting edge rushers. Yes, the edges need to still win versus tackles, but the middle of the Bucs’ defense leads the way.
Ghost of Super Bowl Past
If you say the name Mike Remmers, that may not ring a bell. Yet, this Super Bowl brings the journeyman tackle back to the big stage. The last time Remmers stepped on the biggest stage, Von Miller destroyed him. Remmers surrendered multiple sacks, resulting in two Cam Newton fumbles. The pass rush knows that the Chiefs must entrust Remmers to protect Mahomes’ blindside. Granted, a half-decade passed since the Carolina meltdown, yet his presence speaks to a deeper problem. With Eric Fisher out, trusting a player, working for his seventh team since 2013 is quite the gamble.
While no one truly knows what Sunday will bring to our televisions. Yet, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers line up perfectly with Kansas City. For the Chiefs to rightfully earn any dynastic praise, they must win this game. For Tampa, a win justifies all of the risks they take.