We are now days away from the second Super Bowl appearance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The AFC champion is the Kansas City Chiefs and man-oh-man are they bringing a high powered offense.
Kansas City is led by head coach and offensive mastermind Andy Reid, fresh off of his first Super Bowl victory last season. At the helm of the offense is quarterback Pat Mahomes. This Tampa Bay defense will have to make plays in coverage. The four linebackers will play a key role in whether the Buccaneers can come out on top this Sunday.
If you are a fan of linebackers you need to look no further than what Tampa Bay will bring to the game Sunday. Led by longtime captain Lavonte David, these four men are near or at the top of their respective positions. Alongside David in the middle is second-year Linebacker, Devin White. On the outside of those two are linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.
David and White will have a huge opportunity in limiting the Chiefs’ offensive upside. They will be partly responsible for covering the middle of the field in coverage and that will include guarding Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. This will not be an easy task as Kelce has been nearly unstoppable this season. During the first matchup, he ended the game with 8 catches for 82 yards. If the Buccaneers plan on winning he can’t average a first down per catch again.
Both White and David will be involved heavily in the run game and I expect both to come out energized and eager to stop the run. Sunday the Chiefs are going to be using a new left tackle and a less experienced offensive line overall. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will send a blitz or two involving these two and it wouldn’t be shocking to see either get home.
– Lavonte David: 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT
– Devin White: 15 tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL
Tampa’s outside pass rusher might be the biggest X-factors of this Super Bowl. With an injury depleted offensive line, Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett are probably licking their chops. They both put Mahomes down once in Week 12, and that was with a healthy starting line. As a defense, the key to slowing the Chiefs passing attack is to get Mahomes off of his spot often. If he has time, the Super Bowl 54 MVP will put up numbers as he did early in Week 12. Bowles will do his best at creating a constant pass rush and limiting Mahomes’ time in the pocket. If these two can dominate the line of scrimmage, and combine for 3 plus sacks, I don’t see how the Buccaneers can’t win the Super Bowl.
– Jason Pierre-Paul: 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL
– Shaquil Barrett: 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL
For long time Buccaneer fans this defense has got to make a lot of people smile. It has been a truly long time since the Buccaneers have had a defense with this many playmakers. That is a true testament to the work done by general manager Jason Licht. He has traded for JPP, drafted Devin White, and signed Barrett. He surrounded the one constant star on the defensive side of the field with true defensive peers. This Sunday they get a chance to cement their legacies in this league. Maybe even a Hall of Fame spot for JPP and Lavonte David. On Super Bowl Sunday these four go to battle against one of the greatest offenses in recent memory. LFG!!