Super Bowl weekend, we finally made it! If I told you in 2019, that Tampa Bay would play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, led by Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown, would you believe me?
I’d certainly call you crazy.
Yet here we are, with the biggest test yet. The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into this game looking to hoist the Lombardi in back to back seasons. But I don’t think this team is unbeatable by any means.
There certainly is a blueprint. The Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos played them down to the wire towards the latter half of the season. Two teams that had nothing going for them at the time.
But enough talk, here is how the Buccaneers can take home their second Lombardi trophy.
Run the Football
I can’t believe I’m saying this for the second week in a row, but Tampa Bay has a massive advantage in the run game. Kansas City’s defense is mediocre at best, ranking 22nd in team defense (DVOA). Their pass defense is a bit better, coming in at 16th, but their run defense…..
It’s not last in the league, but it sure is close. In fact, the Chiefs are the 31st when it comes to run defense measured by DVOA (basically an efficiency metric). That is only ahead of the New England Patriots in 2020, who were gashed all season.
Kansas City almost allowed 2,000 yards on the ground this season, barely better than the stumbling Carolina Panthers.
I hope Ronald Jones has recovered from his ailing injuries, but if there was ever a more important game for Leonard Fournette, it’s right now.
Control the clock, pound the rock, and keep Patrick Mahomes on the sideline.
Get Pressure With Four
Mahomes suffered a foot injury early in the playoffs, but that didn’t stop him from carving up the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship game.
That foot has likely healed by now, which could spell trouble for the Buccaneers in a unique way.
When it comes to scrambling out of the pocket, Mahomes ranks fifth in the NFL, doing it 40 times in the regular season. Just for a comparison, Aaron Rodgers ranks 13th, but barely has more than half of those attempts.
Keeping Mahomes in a collapsing pocket will be critical to success on defense, as I have no worries about the Buccaneers rush defense.
I’ll leave you with one more interesting stat. Kansas City tends have success early, with a third quarter stumble that leaks into crunch time. Their offense is close to 60% in the first half when it comes to red zone conversions. But that number drops to 39% in the third quarter, and 49% in the fourth quarter.
Okay just one more stat….
On defense, the Chiefs rank 23rd in explosive plays given up in the passing game. The no risk it no biscuit mentality has netted the Buccaneers fifth in successful explosive passing plays in the regular season.
If there was a top tier team where the Bruce Arians offense could thrive, it’s against Kansas City.