101st NFL Season: Super Bowl Special

Image courtesy of Sporting News

By Jack Cherico

As quickly as it came, the 101st NFL season is down to the wire, with the final game of the season pitting the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. This game is reminiscent of the 1991 NBA finals, where ailing Magic Johnson played his final championship game against the dynasty-building Chicago Bulls in Michael Jordan’s first finals appearance. The two are similar because Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, the greatest ever to do the job, faces off against Patrick Mahomes, the league’s budding superstar. Brady’s six super bowl wins and place on the top of almost every all-time passing and winning statistic is an impressive resume. Still, with one more Super Bowl win and delaying Mahomes’ dominance for one more year, Brady has every reason to succeed. For Mahomes, he is playing for his second super bowl in a row, something that hasn’t happened since, you guessed it, the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons–when Brady brought his second and third titles to Boston. 

Tale of the Tape:

QB’s:

Brady: 43 years old, 4,633 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, 65.7 completion percentage, 12 interceptions

Mahomes: 25 years old, 4740, 38 touchdowns, 66.3 completion percentage, 6 interceptions

Who has the edge? I’ve learned never to count out either of these greats, but I say the Bucs have the advantage with QB in this game, only by a hair. Tampa Bay

Coaches

Bruce Arians: 18-12 record in 2 years with Tampa Bay, won 2 Super Bowls as an assistant, 2x coach of the year (Indianapolis and Arizona), known for his aggressive, high-frequency offense.

Andy Reid: 91-37 record in 8 years with Kansas City, won 2 Super Bowls and won coach of the year (Philadelphia), known for his eccentric play call and good player relationships. 

Who has the edge? Reid’s play call is so unique, and few coaches in the league offer an advantage over him. Kansas City 

Offensive weapons: 

Tampa Bay has created one of the best wide receiver rosters I’ve seen in a long time, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and other less well-known players who had great production for their role this season. Although only Evans had a 1000+ season, Brady has a plethora of options to throw to, and it has made it very easy for the 43-year-old to pick out holes in defensive zones. 

However, Kansas City has kept their core offensive talent over the years, with many players pushing contract talks to the side to bring back the same team every year. With the fastest player in the league Tyreek Hill, and arguably the league’s best tight end Travis Kelce, this game is the most even matchup in recent memory. Both Hill and Kelce had over 1,000 yards this year and over ten touchdown receptions. 

Who has the edge? Kansas City, but only because sometimes having too many great players can be detrimental to the team, and if you put Tyreek on a streak route, very few players can track down the cheetah. Kansas City 

Defense: 

Tampa Bay had the 8th ranked defense this season, with 15 interceptions on the year and allowing the least amount of rushing yards of any team (1,289). Led by middle linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David, Tampa’s front seven is scary, and if the secondary is clicking on all cylinders, like against Green Bay, then KC will have a long night.

The Chiefs had the 11th ranked defense, with their focus placed upon bend, but don’t break. With strong safety Tyrann Mathieu leading the secondary, they’ll have to play airtight coverage, or else Brady will make them pay.

Who has the edge? Tampa Bay, I don’t see Kansas City being able to run the ball on Tampa, but if they air it out enough, it could be a problem for the young Bucs secondary. 

Betting: 

There are many ways to bet on the Super Bowl, and I will discuss a few that most people choose.

The point spread is the projected margin of victory set by oddsmakers for the favored team. If a bettor wagers on the favorite to “cover” the point spread, that favorite has to win the game and must do so by more than the point spread for the bet to be a winner. If the favorite wins the game but doesn’t cover the spread or lose the game, the bettor loses. Chiefs are favored by -3.5 but have had a hard time covering the spread this season, so placing your money on the Chiefs to cover may be a risky bet. 

The Moneyline is a bet on which team will win the game regardless of margin. A Moneyline wager is essentially the same type of bet that most people do with friends or family. When placed with a sportsbook, a Moneyline wager pays winning chances based on the odds attached to the wager. The Moneyline for the game is Chiefs -170, Bucs +150; if you bet 170 dollars on the chiefs, you win 100 dollars and your money back. But, if you bet 100 dollars on the Bucs, you could win 150 dollars and your money back. The Moneyline is my favorite betting style, and it seems more bettor-friendly. 

The over-under is a bet that depends on whether the combined final score would be over or under a certain amount. The over-under for the game is 56.5, which would be a relatively high scoring game. For me, I think the game will be high scoring enough to get close to the over, but I’m taking the under here, mostly because of the current number. 

These numbers can change over the next few days until the game happens and can become influenced by various factors, such as COVID-19, practice injuries, or other things the ordinary person isn’t aware of. A standard technique is looking for the best odds, so you have a higher chance of winning. 

Predictions:

I think this game will be one of the closest and most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory because it will determine if the torch will be passed from Brady to Mahomes or if the Texas Tech product will have to wait another year. But the Super Bowl is never an easy game to predict; we have seen upsets, blowouts, and games that we won’t forget for the rest of our lives. 

They say that father time always wins in the end, and I have always been a firm believer that you cannot outrun age. Sports talk show host Max Kellerman said in 2016, after a blowout loss to the Chiefs, that Tom Brady will fall off a cliff, and he will not be the same quarterback he once was. Brady heard Kellerman’s slander and doubled down with three super bowl appearances since that comment. 

From that day, I have learned to never pick against Tom Brady, and behind the performance of the best to ever do it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs will make it a contest, but something about the most important stage awakens the demon in Tom Brady, and he will play like a man possessed and win Super Bowl MVP. My prediction is that the game will hit the under, with a 27-24 scoreline, and the Bucs will bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to west Florida. 

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