Saturday, February 6, 2021

Super Bowl LV preview

 The most diehard of fans wanted a Super Bowl matchup that was relatively fresh, whether it was Tampa Bay vs. Buffalo or Green Bay vs. Kansas City in a rematch of the 1st Super Bowl in 1967.

What they're getting instead, however, is a rematch of one of the most exciting games of the 2020 regular season.

Kansas City defeated Tampa Bay earlier this season, and the tone was set when the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill torched the Buccaneer secondary for over 200 receiving yards in the first half alone. Tampa QB Tom Brady led a second half comeback, but it fell short. The Bucs haven't lost since, and have since avenged a regular season sweep at the hands of NFC South champion New Orleans.

Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd "Salad" Bowles will have had plenty of time to make adjustments in order to prevent a repeat of that earlier game. He has ex-Giant Jason Pierre-Paul, who earned his ring at the expense of Brady and the Patriots, to motivate the defense. Ndamakong Suh played with the Los Angeles Rams and lost to the Pats two years ago. This may be his last chance at a ring.

On offense, of course, you have Brady and his best friend, Rob Gronkowski. Antonio Brown returns after missing the NFC title game. It has been nearly 20 years since the Bucs won their only title. If that isn't enough incentive, what else could be there?

I honestly think that if Tampa wins, Brady AND Gronk will retire. Brady has nothing left to prove. Gronk is old, damaged goods. Brown has become too much of a diva.

On the other side, Kansas City returns most of the same cast that outlasted San Francisco last year. They haven't really had to play from behind all that much in this post-season, unlike last year. Patrick Mahomes may well be 100% come Sunday night, and that spells trouble for the Tampa defense. Add Hill, Travis Kelce, and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Hillaire, a year removed from a NCAA title with LSU, and the Chiefs' offense is still scary. The Chiefs are looking to be the first team since---wait for it---the Patriots to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Brady's legacy, tarnished though it is, is secure. Mahomes is building his legacy. If anyone from KC is retiring after this game, it may be Andy Reid, who finally won a title last year. He wants to avenge a defeat Brady and the Patriots inflicted upon Philadelphia 16 years ago. That would be the last item on his bucket list.

The pick: Kansas City. Of course, I could be wrong.

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