A Super Bowl classic to remember, will Brady pass the torch?

Eddie Sanchez, Staff Writer

This upcoming Sunday, prepare yourself for a Super Bowl to remember, the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their own backyard! That is correct; the Buccaneers will be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium. This also gives them a chance to be the first team to win the championship at home. This will not be an easy feat, as the Chiefs look to repeat their success from last year and become back-to-back champions. 

The two teams met earlier in the season (Week 12), and Kansas City came out victorious 27-24. Everyone knows the playoffs, especially the biggest game of the season, works differently. The pressure is on, and this is the only game that matters regardless of anything before this Sunday. 

Coming into the season, many experts had the Chiefs visiting the Super Bowl once again, rightfully so as they showed that no opponent’s lead was safe from Patrick Mahomes and company. In every playoff game, including the Superbowl in 2020, the Chiefs rallied to come back against double-digit deficits. Whether it was by 10 points against the Tennessee Titans in the Conference Championship or the San Francisco 49ers at the Super Bowl, they found a way to march back into the game. If that was not enough to make you believe in the Chiefs’ ability to overcome any deficit, how about the fourth-largest comeback in postseason history against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round? The Chiefs were down by 24 points at one moment in that game and managed to win. So, if the Buccaneers want to win this one, they need to keep their foot on the gas until the clock hits zero. Otherwise, history shows they may be in for a surprising ending. 

The Chiefs dominated this entire season with a 14-2 record and stayed atop the American Football Conference finishing with the #1 seed. With Mahomes leading the offense along with other star players like first Team All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who had a historic season at his position, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Both finished top 10 in receiving yards, Kelce (#2) and Hill (#8), having career years that highly supported their team’s success. Many would agree this team thrives with their juggernaut offense. Coming into the Super Bowl strong, they are favored in this matchup. However, they enter the game hampered by crucial injuries to starting offensive linemen Eric Fisher’s Achilles and Mike Remmers’ Groin. Who is guarding Mahomes on the edges will be something to focus on come kickoff. Remmers has been improving with full participation in practices this week, which is a positive sign. On the other hand, Fisher has not participated in any of the Chiefs’ practices and seems to be doubtful. Other than those players, everyone else seems ready to suit up come Sunday. 

Now let’s focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who made some changes in the offseason. The most significant one was the signing of the great Tom Brady. When a team brings in a quarterback the caliber of Brady, there is instant pressure on that franchise, and in Brady’s case, it is Super Bowl or bust. After spending two decades with the New England Patriots, he decided to part ways with the team and head to Tampa Bay. With multiple MVPs, Super Bowl MVPs, Super Bowl Championships, etc., he is first all-time in Pro Bowl selections, 14, and has the most passing touchdowns, 581, in NFL history. He will become the first quarterback to make his 10th Superbowl appearance, looking to acquire a seventh championship ring.

Make no mistake, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backing Brady are a respectable team. The defense finished sixth in the league in total defense, led by second team all-defensive linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David. The offense features an established trio of wideouts in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Brady’s favorite target from his Patriot days, Rob Gronkowski, came out of retirement to join this capable Buccaneers team.

Until Brady came along, the Buccaneers had not won a playoff game since 2003 when they won the Super Bowl. Their last playoff appearance was back in 2007, and they had finished dead last in their division 10 times. 

While the game will be between two teams who fought desperately all season to make an appearance this Sunday, the talk for the past two weeks leading up to the game has been all about Brady and Mahomes. Ultimately, Superbowl LV will be decided by each quarterback’s performance on Sunday night. Brady is already firmly in the conversation for the greatest of all time. Although some will say that conversation is too early for Mahomes, it is impossible to deny his production and accomplishments in his fourth year in the league. In his first year starting, he achieved an MVP and was one game away from the Super Bowl. His second year starting, he won a Super Bowl and attained Super Bowl MVP. This year he is making a second straight trip to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are clearly believers, signing Mahomes to a $503 million dollar contract through 10 years this past offseason.

Mahomes has gained respect from many players league-wide, even from his opponent #12, Brady. During a virtual interview on Feb 1, Kay Adams of the NFL Network asked Brady alongside Mahomes, “Tom let’s pretend you can steal one of Patrick’s powers, a physical skill, or a quality and add it to your game, what will you take?” Brady responded, “He’s got all the physical tools, and he’s got all the mental tools….. so, he’s going to be in this game quite a few more times in my opinion.” 

This NFL season included a number of challenges related to COVID-19. Limited attendance to certain stadiums, some with zero spectators, rescheduled games, and constantly shuffling rosters led many to wonder if the league would even make it to February. Yet, a couple of days out from the Super Bowl, the game is shaping up to be one for the ages. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady vs. Mahomes, Super Bowl LV could well go down as an all-time classic.