QSAO\’s Super Bowl 55 In-Depth Breakdown

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By Jack Bleiweis

Over the past two week, we’ve released an individual preview for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now that we’ve released an in-depth analysis on both teams, it’s time to look at how they match up.

Luckily, Tampa Bay and Kansas City have already played once this year. So, we already know a bit about how these teams play each other.

In the third instalment of QSAO’s Super Bowl Preview, we look at the Chiefs-Buccaneers matchup, while presenting some other important stats that will help you make your pick for the Super Bowl.

Week 12 — Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: KC 27 — TB 24

With a total of just 14 plays on their first four drives, Tampa Bay could not get going. Tyreek Hill alone had more yards than the entire Buccaneers team in the first quarter. With 9 minutes left in the second quarter, the Chiefs were up 17-0 with the ball on Tampa Bay’s 15-yard line. But after a massive fumble by Patrick Mahomes caused by DT William Gholston, all of a sudden the Bucs have a chance. While Tampa Bay made the Chiefs a little uncomfortable late in the game, the 17-0 lead proved too much to come back from, and Mahomes ended up kneeling to kill away the clock at the end of the game.

With that said, let’s look at some key stats and points we can take away from that game.

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Photo credited to Kim Klement — USA Today

Game Breakdown — Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs offense played exactly how you would have expected in the first half. Kansas City had only one punt, and Tyreek Hill looked absolutely unstoppable. If it weren’t for the Mahomes fumble, this game could’ve been 27-7 at halftime.

While the Chiefs did score on their first drive after the half, what’s scary is the fact that they punted on three consecutive drives after that, giving Tom Brady and the Bucs that little bit of an opening that they needed for the comeback. If Kansas City wasn’t perfect to start this game, the game script could’ve been completely flipped, and it would’ve been the Chiefs attempting a comeback in the fourth quarter.

Like their offense, the Chiefs defense was dominant early in the game, causing punt after punt. They didn\’t give the Buccaneers any breathing room, allowing only a total of 44 yards in the first quarter and 132 for the entire half. Following a 33-yard field goal to start the 2nd half, the Chiefs defense really took their stride.

After intercepting Brady twice when the score was 27-10, the Chiefs defense gave Kansas City the option to really put this game away. Unfortunately, Mahomes and the offense couldn\’t get it done, causing their defense to bail them out repeatedly. Luckily, time was on Kansas City\’s side, and they escaped with the win after allowing Tampa Bay to score 17 second-half points, including 14 of them in 11 minutes.

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Game Breakdown — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Once again, the Buccaneers started their game by shooting themselves in the foot. Almost half of their regular-season games have seen Tampa Bay been trailing their opponent by double-digit points. Throwing from a clean pocket, Brady was only sacked once, yet still threw two interceptions this game.

The Chiefs defense appeared to be too much for Brady for most of this game. It wasn\’t until the end of the second half where the Bucs seemed to look alive, as Mike Evans scored two touchdowns, cutting the lead to three. The only problem is it was too little too late, as another slow start for the Buccaneers offense cost them the game.

Tampa Bay\’s defense had no answer for Kansas City\’s Hill. No matter the route or coverage, Hill kept finding seams and openings in the Bucs defense, torching them for over 200 yards, the best game of his career. Despite this, Tampa Bay\’s defense could still do what they did best everywhere else.

They held the Chiefs backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell to only 37 and 22 rushing yards, respectively, and caused a fumble when their team needed it most. In a game that will forever be remembered by Tampa’s defensive blunders trying to contain Hill, it can\’t go unnoticed that it was the defense that kept Tampa Bay in this game, allowing just seven points in the entire second half.

Keys to Super Bowl 55 – Chiefs

Take advantage of turnovers

One of the main reasons Green Bay isn\’t in the Super Bowl is because they didn\’t convert turnovers onto the scoresheet. The Buccaneers give their opponents opportunities, and the Chiefs know they\’ll get their fair share in this game. Brady has at least one turnover in over half of his games this year, including five games with two-plus interceptions. They need to convert when given the opportunity.

Fix their red zone woes

Finishing 32nd in red zone scoring, the Chiefs have had their difficulties scoring touchdowns in the red zone, and they can\’t settle for field goals this game. Hopefully, the past two weeks of preparations will help head coach Andy Reid OC Eric Bieniemy redo that part of the playbook, and finally get some success.

Injury Report

Offensive tackle Eric Fisher ‘s injury cannot be overlooked. After suffering an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs offensive line is at a massive loss. Fisher started in 15/16 games this season protecting Patrick Mahomes, and was selected into the Pro Bowl. Replacing Fisher is Andrew Wylie at right tackle, a position in which he\’s played just one game in.

Sammy Watkins is still recovering from his injury, should he play in the Super Bowl he helps the Chiefs a little bit but doesn’t change the composition of their offense much.

Keys to Super Bowl 55 – Bucs

Get the offense going early

As mentioned previously, the Bucs boast several slow starts on offense, leading to deficits early in games. They can\’t let that happen against Kansas City; the Chiefs are too good when given an early lead. Arians and Brady will need to go deep into the playbook to keep the Chiefs defense on their toes and get the mismatches they want.

Don’t give Mahomes time

With injuries to the Chiefs offensive line, the Buccaneers will be looking to feast in the trenches. The league\’s number-one run defense will be pulling out all the stunts, twists and bullrushes trying to get past Kansas City\’s depleted line because they cannot let Mahomes use his magic. The Bucs need to contain Mahomes in the pocket and collapse it before he escapes and makes a play. Otherwise, it will be a long night for Tampa Bay if they don\’t.

Injury Report

Expect all players who got hurt last game in the NFC Championship to return, including WR Antonio Brown, who missed last week’s game. Tampa Bay should have all players back strong and healthy for their title bout.

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Interesting Stats

The Buccaneers are the first team in history to play in their own stadium for the Super Bowl.

Head coaches Andy Reid and Bruce Arians have only played each other twice in their head coaching careers — both games were decided by three points.

Since losing to the Chiefs in Week 12, the Buccaneers have won seven straight games coming into the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs will be heading into the Super Bowl with a starting offensive line combination they have never had before. LT Mike Remmers has yet to play a snap at left tackle, while the right side has guard and tackle Stefen Wisniewski and Wylie only having one game of prior experience at their position. 

Here is the PFF score for the Chiefs’ offensive line heading into Super Bowl 55.

Chiefs OL heading into #SBLV:
LT: Mike Remmers (0 snaps at LT)
LG: Nick Allegretti – 67.1 PFF Grade
C: Austin Reiter – 69.2 PFF Grade
RG: Stefen Wisniewski (1 game at RG)
RT: Andrew Wylie (1 game at RT) pic.twitter.com/WZfWLz5orU

— PFF (@PFF) January 30, 2021

PFF Ratings are scored out of 100, with 100 being a perfect score.

Look out for wideout Hill to do some damage this Sunday, as expected. He is one of, if not the quickest wide receivers in the NFL.

Tyreek Hill ranked 1st in average top speed within one second of the snap on all four of the primary field-stretching routes among the top 64 receivers by volume per route type.#SBLV | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/ebmYI1kZRm

— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) February 3, 2021

Further, expect both the Chiefs and Bucs to field a rotation of running backs, as neither team had a 1000-yard rusher.

Despite the old vs. young GOAT status comparison, quarterbacks Mahomes and Brady have very different passing tendencies. As per NFL Next Gen Stats, Mahomes is far more mobile, dropping deep into the pocket to make plays, whereas Brady rarely moves. Further, while Brady makes 96% of his passes inside the tackle-box (third-highest), Mahomes makes only 79% in the area (third-lowest).

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Photo credited to Getty Images

Super Bowl Stats

The Chiefs are 2-0 in Super Bowls when they wear red, 0-1 when they wear white. Tom Brady is 4-1 in Super Bowl’s when wearing white. Chiefs are wearing red while Brady and the Buccaneers are wearing white.

Kansas City is in the Super Bowl for the second time in three years, would’ve been three if not for their loss to Tom Brady in the AFC Championship in 2019 

The Chiefs have seven Pro Bowlers on their roster, while the Buccaneers only have one.

No quarterback has ever been over 40 years old and been to a Super Bowl, this will be Brady’s third above the age of 40.

This will be the 14th game all time between Tampa Bay and Kansas City, Tampa Bay leads 7-6

Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since Super Bowl 37

Also, this Sunday marks another huge milestone in sports, as Sarah Thomas will be the first female referee in Super Bowl History.

Finally, if you’re looking for a stat-by-stat comparison between the Chiefs and Buccaneers — here’s how they stack up.

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The Referee

Carl Cheffers is the head referee for Super Bowl 55. He last refereed the AFC Divisional Round matchup between the Bills and the Ravens, which had a total of 20 points scored, and 10 total penalties for 70 total yards. He was also head referee in Super Bowl 51 between the Falcons and Patriots, where 62 total points were scored, and 13 penalties were called, as per Pro Football Reference.

Here’s a look at Cheffer’s refereeing compared to league averages this season

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Super Bowl 55 bets

Disclaimer: While these betting odds and advice are for your reading pleasure, the minimum betting age in Ontario is 19. If you do decide to place bets, please follow OLG PlaySmart practices, or whichever governing rules in your area. Above all, please gamble responsibly.

Betting line – Kansas City Chiefs -3.5: +105 

At the time of the writing, the line is -3.5. The opening line was Chiefs at -3.0 — -110, meaning that there has been a hefty amount of money being put on the Chiefs. It’s hard to see Brady getting blown out in a Super Bowl; that extra half-point is huge, especially since the last time these teams played, it was a 3-point game. Although, if you’re a believer in the Chiefs high-powered offense, it shouldn’t scare you. The Chiefs really should’ve killed them last time these team played.

I believe this game will come down to the Bucs defensive line. Missing two starters, the Chiefs may struggle to protect Mahomes. It only takes one defensive touchdown or turnover to change momentum. Expect there to be many opportunities to live bet the Bucs, should they continue their regular season slow starts.

Favourite prop bets

Important caveat: Disregard these prop bets if it’s pouring rain, or at least think twice. The forecast calls for rain as of now.

Travis Kelce over 97.5 receiving yards: -120

The last time these teams played, all eyes were on Hill, catching over 200 receiving yards. Yet, Kelce still caught over 80 yards. During the regular season, Kelce caught 29.8% of Mahomes’ passing yards any given game. Since Mahomes is expected to pass for 340 yards, that would put Kelce at a line of 101 receiving yards.

Tyreek Hill over 4.5 rushing yards: -120

When games are close, the Chiefs love running with Hill. Kansas City played in 11 one-possession games this year; Hill ran the ball in eight of those 11 games. In blowouts, he only had a rushing attempt in two of six contests. Although, the shifty receiver certainly knows how to run the ball. In a close game, expect Tyreek to get his chances on the world’s biggest stage.

Patrick Mahomes anytime scorer: +200

Mahomes loves running in touchdowns in big games — especially in the playoffs. He’s scored four touchdowns in seven playoff games, including the game he missed part of due to a concussion. Make this bet and wait for Mahomes to take the snap and run a power to the right side of the field.

Bonus: Mahomes to score 2+ rushing touchdowns: +2000

If Mahomes scores, he usually scores early, allowing for a better cash out than the +200 will give you.

Fournette anytime touchdown scorer +105

Leonard Fournette has been a touchdown machine in this year’s playoffs, scoring at least once every game. While the presence of Ronald Jones and Fournette’s drops as a pass-catcher is a little scary, Fournette has been the one converting for the Buccaneers. I expect Brady to continue his trust in him.

Bonus: If you’re able to live bet, I love waiting until after the first quarter. Not only do you get to see how Fournette and Jones are handling touches, but the odds will only go up.

Favourite Super Bowl Bets

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For reference, Bill Belichick dodged it three times, John Harbaugh once)

If you think the Chiefs are going to win, Orange is a great bet here at +125. They had it last year and they don’t like to change too many things up.

If you think the Buccs are going to win, Blue is your best bet. The only team to pick Blue in the last 20 years has been the Brady-Belichick Patriots twice. Great value and a great final dad joke of the season for Brady to rub in the Patriots face.

Coin flip: Tails -120

Tails never fails.

Will there be a missed extra point: Yes +140 — No -250

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker is having his worst conversion season of his career. This year his extra point conversion rate is 87.5%, less than his career average field goal percentage 90.3%. Against Cleveland, Butker missed the 33-yard xp wide left AND missed a 33-yard field goal in the same game.

First song by the weekend: Blinding Lights +400

Realistically, this song should be the favourite, love the value here at +400. It’s a great high energy song that gets every demographic involved early.

Wrapping it up

Whatever way you look at it; NFL fans are in for a great game. 

It\’s been tough for any team this season to beat the Chiefs. Only Las Vegas has been able to take them down, and they had to score 13 points more than their season average. Tampa Bay will need their defense to play their best game of the year if they want to dethrone a new dynasty and the face of the league.

I hope you\’ve enjoyed reading QSAO\’s three-piece Super Bowl preview this year. Be sure to enjoy yourself on Sunday, as despite not being allowed to watch with friends, you\’re still allowed to order 3lbs of hot wings and make some nachos while you\’re waiting. 

I\’m personally going to buy a half-point and bet on the Chiefs -3.0. I really don\’t want to lose on a backdoor cover by a Brady meaningless touchdown. I believe in the Chiefs; their offense is too good.

Happy Super Bowl Weekend!

P.S. If you\’ve made it this far I appreciate the commitment, it\’s been a long article. Here\’s a bonus prop bet: Mike Evans anytime touchdown scorer +105. In my opinion, this should be -140 along with Kelce and Hill. He will get his chances, as there\’s a high possibility to see Tampa Bay in the red zone, and one of their first two plays will be a fade to Evans in the corner. It\’s exciting, and it\’s happened 13 times in 16 games this season.

Editor\’s note: As a point of emphasis, betting advice is the writer\’s opinion in this article, and do not represent the opinions of all members of QSAO, Queen\’s University, Queen\’s AMS, or other affiliated parties.

Statistics retrieved from Pro Football Reference, Next Gen Stats, and NFL.com

Cover graphic credited to Charlie Neibergall, Matt Ludtke — Associated Press

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