Superbowl Preview and Prediction

Ben Malo, Editor

It’s finally here! After a tumultuous season that has seen cancelled games, notable injuries, and a 6-11 Football Team (Yes, the name is the “Football Team”) making the playoffs, we have reached the summit. The 55th Superbowl is right around the corner, and I’m here to help all of you who aren’t quite as familiar with the sport through predictions. So when your dad pops on the couch and opens an ice-cold Coors Light, you’ll know what to tell him without sounding like a neanderthal. For anyone who is more acquainted with NFL football, I think you’ll like my takes as well!  

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes celebrating his win in the AFC championship game (USA Today)

 The kickoff, I believe, will be a huge part of the outcome of this game (Also betting on the coin flip is a lot more fun than you’d think it’d be, says a “tail never fails” guy). If the Chiefs are able to defer the ball (kick off first and get the ball first in the second half), look out because this may get out of hand later in the second half. The Chiefs quarterback is a man by the name of Patrick Mahomes, but there’s more to him than being rivaled by Troy Polomaleou. Mahomes was the MVP of the league in 2017 and is currently ranked second in both QB rating (Basically how to calculate how good a quarterback is playing on a given day between 0.0-160) and yards with a ridiculous 4,740 yards through the air. Mahomes is also the reigning superbowl MVP after winning it last year against the Niners, but he is far from alone with possibly the greatest supporting cast in the league. This high-powered Chiefs team is led by electric tight end Travis Kelce, who leads the league in receiving yards, and Tyreek Hill who is possibly the fastest player in NFL history. The number one ranked offense isn’t the only strong point of the reigning champs, Tyran Matheiu and this top ten defense have played out of their minds during the second half of the season. So basically, getting too far behind Kansas City is not an option for the Bucs.

With that being said, it’s not like the Bucs will roll over. We all know him, we all hate him, Tom Brady is back for the 10th time in the Super Bowl and he has his most talented offense since the Randy Moss days. Key players such as Pro Bowl (All Stars but for the NFL) wideouts Chris Godwin and Mike Evans along with talented running backs such as former Jags superstar running back Leonard Fournette, will play a huge role in the way Tampa fairs as underdogs. Now let’s look at the poor souls that have the image of Patrick Mahomes haunting their dreams, the Tampa defense is far from laughable. The 8th ranked defense led by the best linebacking core in the league with rising star Devin White playing alongside veteran star Vante David, also has a great secondary that might be missing a key guy in safety Antoine Winfield Jr. The defense is going to need to play out of their mind in order to pull off an upset.

So, after that long winded preview, it’s time for some half predictions. The Chiefs will come out the game attempting to establish the run and let me tell you, it’s more than essential for the Bucs to stop that in its tracks. If the Chiefs can get that going it’s all but game over, but it’ll be hard for them to do due to the aforementioned linebacking crew of the Bucs along with the fact that starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be out. On the flip side, it’s vital that Tampa comes out of the gate running the ball. Although Tom Brady is in the superbowl for the tenth time, we saw Father Time show his hideous face in the form of a QBR of 73.9 with 3 interceptions in the NFC championship game, so some pressure has to be taken off of Brady’s shoulders. Brady is fine, in fact he flourishes, when he is able to rely on his running game but that’s not the only reason the running attack is a key point. When playing a high scoring team like the Chiefs, it’s vital that you control the clock with long drives and a solid running attack does just that. The game clock does not stop at the end of a rushing play, which allows a team to take up whole quarters of the game with one drive, and it makes the game significantly easier when that Mahomes guy is on the sidelines for as long as possible. As a result, a lot of this team’s success is held in the hands of the big boys up front and most notably rookie Tristan Wirfs who has crushed it this season protecting the old man behind him. Best case scenario for the Bucs going into the half is a lead or being down by one score, but if it’s anything more I just can’t see a 45 year old Brady being able to out duel this young, exciting Kansas City offense. With that being said, Brady has made many sports fans cry before (including me) and he could easily do it again. 

Bucs QB Tom Brady celebrating a TD

The second half sees a little bit more leeway for the Bucs (This is because, if they’re down by more than 7 without the ball, this thing is all but over in my opinion) because Brady seems to always flourish late game. The way the Chiefs win in this second half is to play the same type of football they’ve been playing all year, play solid defense, force a turnover or two, and air it out with a versatile passing attack. I do think that the turnout of the game rests mostly in the hands of the first half, so the second half doesn’t interest me quite as much when it comes to predictions. 

Predicted Final Score: 35-21 Chiefs 

Stats produced by:
Pro Football Focus