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A quarterback duel for the ages, two of the most well coached teams in the league, 25,000 fans and 30,000 cutouts will make this Super Bowl one for the ages.
Here’s the race to the top.
AFC (first seed) Kansas City Chiefs (16-2) versus NFC (fifth seed) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-5)Raymond James Stadium, Tampa BayMonday 8 FebruaryKick off 10:30am (AEDT)After a season like no other, it’s only fitting that the Super Bowl would be unforgettable too. You could splice the story line a million different ways – two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game (Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes), two of the greatest tight ends (Rob Gronkowski versus Travis Kelce), the first time a team has played a Super Bowl at home (Tampa Bay), the first time a female referee (Sarah Thomas) will officiate in a Super Bowl, the coaches, TV commercials, halftime show, how many chicken wings will be consumed – it’s the Super Bowl, so let’s get excited.
And frankly, this should get you excited. Just a little note on the coaches – Chiefs head coach Andy Reid enjoyed a cheeseburger last year to celebrate his maiden Super Bowl victory from a long and illustrious career. If they win back-to-back Super Bowl titles, he will celebrate with – what else – a double cheeseburger. Simple, but effective.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians is a little like this year’s Andy Reid who is looking to become the oldest head coach in NFL history to win his maiden Super Bowl, from his own long and illustrious career.
Aside from the explosive offences on both teams, it’s been both defences that have come up big in the playoffs. The Buccaneers have a few injury concerns with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and both starting safeties Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr being nursed through practices ahead of the big game.
Kansas City are looking good to go player wise, but one of their assistant coaches Britt Reid (who is also Andy Reid’s son) has been involved in a car accident, so it will be interesting to see if that causes any organisational issues.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and tight end Cameron Brate (back) are both questionable to play – but hey, it’s the Super Bowl, isn’t it? They might as well give it a nudge.
For the Chiefs, left tackle Eric Fisher is out after tearing his Achilles in the conference championship game, while wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Le’Veon Bell are also being managed through practice. Eric Fisher’s injury will be very interesting, considering how the Tampa Bay defensive line were able to wreak havoc against a weakened Packers offensive line a couple of weeks back.
With the Buccaneers having played three away playoff games to now play at home, they have predictably practiced as per usual, on home turf. The Chiefs, who played two home playoff games to now play away from home, are breaking with traditional Super Bowl preparations and also practising at their home, in Kansas City, which makes more sense in a COVID year.
They will fly to Tampa the day before the big game, similar to what they did ahead of their Week 12 game against the Bucs. The weather forecast is for thunderstorms in the lead-up to the game, but rain should clear come game time.
Finally, Brady versus Mahomes will actually be a battle for the ages. Tom Brady is playing in his tenth Super Bowl, an NFL all-time record, at age 43. He is taking the game to entirely new realms of possibility. Patrick Mahomes already has an MVP and Super Bowl title by age 25. He is on track for any number of quarterback records over the span of his career and has a ridiculous 44-9 record as starting quarterback for the Chiefs, including 6-1 in the playoffs.
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The last guy who beat him in the playoffs? Tom Brady. The last guy to win this particular match-up? Patrick Mahomes. Aside from all the records, this is winner versus winner, so who is it going to be?
I can’t wait.
Other tidbitsAll four teams that made the conference championships – Chiefs, Bucs, Bills, Packers – managed to keep their coaching teams intact, following all head coach vacancies being filled. That’s a huge win for all teams in terms of continuity for next season, although Green Bay did fire defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine following their conference championship loss.
The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions pulled off a rare blockbuster of a trade, which essentially swapped quarterbacks, with Jared Goff going to Detroit and Matthew Stafford going to to LA. There were a number of draft picks also swapped, with the Lions scooping among other things the Rams’ next two first-round picks. Who won out of the deal? The debates are running hot.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has officially requested a trade from the once fun Houston Texans, although new Texans general manager Nick Caserio has stated there is “zero interest” in trading Watson. That is a fair stance, but Caserio’s hire was one of Watson’s gripes with the organisation anyway.
Following the Stafford-Goff trade, many pundits are now anticipating an off-season quarterback carousel like none we’ve ever seen, with over half of 2020’s starting quarterbacks now having questions marks over their respective futures. That includes assumed MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is uncertain what the Green Bay Packers will do with him. But if it’s anything but keep him, they would have rocks in their heads.