Super Bowl LV is finally upon us. After a long year in 2020 and a wild start to 2021, we are set to witness an intriguing showdown between the NFL’s top teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs are in pursuit of earning dynasty status with a second consecutive Super Bowl.
In order to do that, they’ll need to get through a guy who knows a thing or two about winning the big game himself, Tom Brady. It’s with a new team this time around, but the six-time Super Bowl champion is surrounded by plenty of talent, on both sides of the football.
Below are five things you should be paying attention to during tonight’s game.
Tampa Bay (15-5) at Kansas City (16-2)
Where: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
When: Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET (5:30 CT)
Betting Line: Chiefs -3 (according to FanDuel)
Five Things To Watch
1. Brady vs. Mahomes, old vs. new
From a legacy standpoint, this is the quarterback showdown you should want. Brady will go down as the most accomplished quarterback of all time, but Patrick Mahomes will attempt to put a dent into that conversation with back-to-back Super Bowl wins before the age of 26.
The last franchise to win two-consecutive Super Bowls? The New England Patriots back in 2003 and 2004. The quarterback of those teams, of course, was Brady.
For anyone thinking Mahomes will have plenty of time to make it back should he lose, just remember that we were saying similar things about Russell Wilson when his second-consecutive Super Bowl attempt in 2015 ended at the hands of Brady and the Patriots. And guess what? He hasn’t been back since.
2. Tampa Bay at home
Oddly enough, Tampa Bay is getting to play Super Bowl LV at home in Raymond James Stadium. It’s strange because that isn’t really being talked about enough, and that’s mainly due to the attendance limitations put forth with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The big question will be how much of an advantage will playing in their home stadium be for the Bucs? There will only be 22,000 fans in attendance, and 7,500 of them will be frontline healthcare workers. Will that leave enough to create any sort of difference?
The NFL has already stepped in and taken away one of Tampa Bay’s home field advantages: the celebratory cannon shots after a score.
3. Watkins, Brown expected to play
Both quarterbacks have a plethora of offensive weapons at their disposal. Mahomes has the dynamic duo of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, while Brady has big-named stars such as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette.
Two of the quarterback’s secondary — but still solid — weapons have been questionable throughout the week leading up to the game. Antonio Brown and Sammy Watkins have both been dealing with lower body injuries, but both are expected to play.
That is a big development for anyone hoping for a four-quarter fireworks show. It should also benefit that 56.5-point over, if you’re into that sort of thing.
4. Defensive performances worthy of MVP
More than likely, the MVP of this game will go to an offensive player, particularly one of the star quarterbacks. It’s expected to be a high-scoring affair, which will limit how many defensive players are able to stand out.
With that being said, the difference in the game could come down to which team has those one or two defensive guys with performances worthy enough to win the Most Valuable Player award. That doesn’t mean they would win it necessarily, but it’s about the impact.
Top candidates for Tampa Bay include Devin White and Lavonte David with an outside shot at an Antoine Winfield Jr. For Kansas City, Tyrann Mathieu would probably be the safest bet, but Chris Jones, Frank Clark and Juan Thornhill are viable candidates as well.
5. Crossing the finish line
This is the final NFL game of the season. We saw Alabama take down Ohio State for the national championship on the college level, but watching the NFL cross the finish line to complete a COVID filled season will mark another major victory for sports.
It will also mark another major loss for the coronabros.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.