Coming into the 2020 season, many were uncertain how the season would unfold due to uncertainity regarding the coronavirus. However, 4 months later, the end of the NFL season is now here. From empty stadiums to rescheduled games, COVID-19 has made 2020 a season unlike any other.
As the sun sets on the season, there is one more game upon us. That is none other than the Super Bowl. While many games played in 2020 had no fans in the stands, the Super Bowl will have up to 25,000 fans in the stands. Of course, masks will be worn and there will be distancing guidelines in place.
This year’s big game features the AFC Champion and reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams had strong regular seasons, as the Chiefs finished 14-2 and the Buccaneers finished a respectable 11-5. As NFL legend Tom Brady plays for a chance to win his seventh Super Bowl, young superstar Patrick Mahomes hopes to win his second straight.
In the next few paragraphs, I will take a deep dive into how both teams got into the Super Bowl.
How They Punched Their Ticket To the Super Bowl: Kansas City Chiefs
On January 4, 2013, former Eagles coach Andy Reid was hired as the head coach of the Chiefs after a 2-14 season in 2012. Three months later, the team drafted tackle Eric Fischer as a became a staple on their offensive line. In addition, they drafted future superstar tight end Travis Kelce. He was drafted in the third round.
In 2016, the Chiefs drafted a 5th round gem as the selected speedster wide receiver Tyreek Hill as an addition to their offense. He is known to be a top 5 receiver in the NFL.
One year later, the Chiefs drafted a future superstar quarterback. His name is Patrick Mahomes. Known to be a project out of college, Mahomes sat behind veteran quarterback Alex Smith in 2017. It is safe to say that paid off. Mahomes is now a Super Bowl MVP and a regular season MVP.
In 2019 Free Agency, the team signed star safety Tyrann Matthieu to a deal. He has become a huge part of a vastly improved defense.
That is how the Chiefs have become who they are now. All it can take is a great quarterback and coaching.
How They Punched Their Ticket To the Super Bowl: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 2014 draft class was loaded with talent at wide receiver. As Tampa Bay was in dire need of one, they drafted Texas A&M product Mike Evans in the first round. While his quarterback play has been inconsistent, he has been the opposite. Consistent. He has racked up seven straight 1,000 yard seasons to start his career.
Playing alongside Evans, the Buccaneers drafted wide receiver Chris Godwin the second round of the 2017 draft. After a breakout season in 2019, he has become a big part of their offense.
After an underwhelming 5-11 finish in 2018, the team fired head coach Dirk Koetter. Shortly after, they hired former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. Arians has changed the culture of the team as he is a proven winner. In the 2019 draft, the nabbed star linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall pick.
However, the teams biggest gamble came in the 2020 offseason. The Bucs signed six-time super bowl champion Tom Brady to a two-year contract as they needed a new quarterback following the departure of Jameis Winston. One month later, arguably the best tight end to play the game of football, Rob Gronkowski, came out of retirement to play with Brady. They had previously played together in New England, where they established an incredible bond together, winning 3 super bowls.
Keys to Victory: Kansas City Chiefs
If the Chiefs want to come out victorious, they must do three things well .
1. Get pressure on Tom Brady out of the gate. If the Chiefs pass rush can force sacks and turnovers early, Tampa Bay could be in for a rough game. In past games this season, the Buccaneers have struggled if Tom Brady has played poorly early on.
2. Establish a run game. While Cylde Edwards-Helaire is talented, he has been used less frequently as of late. If he is efficient, he will be a big factor in their offense.
3. Defend Tampa’s explosive receivers. If Matthieu and the Chiefs secondary can slow down Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, the path to victory will be easier for the Chiefs.
Keys to Victory: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the Buccaneers want to win, three things must be executed well.
1. Win the time of possession battle. One way Tampa Bay will win this game is if the win the time of possession battle. Since the Buccaneers have a high-powered offense, scoring fast and early on will be beneficial.
2. Outcoach the Chiefs. Everyone knows Andy Reid is a mastermind coach. That is why Bruce Arians must coach his best game. If he doesn’t, the game is in jeopardy for Tampa.
3. Establish the run game. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones make up a very scary duo. When Tampa Bay uses them correctly, they can be hard to stop. If it isn’t Brady’s night, the teams offense will have to go through the run game.