By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
After a season unlike any other, somehow, we made it: The 2021 Super Bowl is here, and it should be a competitive and entertaining way to end this historic season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team to play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium since 1966. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs will try to become the first back-to-back champions since the New England Patriots 2003-2004 team. Ironically, they’ll have to beat former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to do so. Let’s take a look at both teams, and who is most likely to win.
I didn’t think a team would play a Super Bowl in their home stadium anytime soon, but of course, it’s a team led by Brady. They had high expectations as soon as he signed in Tampa, and surprisingly they met them. Brady didn’t play well in the NFC Championship versus the Green Bay Packers, throwing three interceptions in the second half. The last two weeks showed me how the defense is going to carry the Bucs success. However, during their divisional round game versus the New Orleans Saints on Jan.17, the defense forced four turnovers and held the Packers to a field goal in the fourth quarter .
This team reminds me a lot of the 2015 Denver Broncos. They also had a dominant defense and a veteran quarterback in Peyton Manning. Like the 2015 Broncos, Tampa is riding their defense to this point. The Bucs have a lot of talent on defense, one key member is outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. Against Green Bay, he had two sacks and two tackles for loss. He’s going to have to put together a similar performance if Tampa has any chance of winning.
While the defense is the stronger unit, the offense has also been getting it done. They’ve put up 30 or more points in each of their three playoff games which is crucial when playing a team like Kansas City. While they’ve put up points, they can’t afford to be shut down late in games. In the game against New Orleans, they scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, and only scored three against the Packers. Once the Chiefs get rolling on offense they are unstoppable, so you have to be able to keep up with them.
Of the defending Super Bowl champions of the last decade, I believe the Chiefs are easily the most dangerous. It all starts with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Despite battling a toe injury and coming off concussion protocol, Mahomes had another flawless game in the AFC Championship versus the Buffalo Bills. He threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns with no picks. However, what makes Kansas City so dangerous are wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Both have caught eight or more passes for over 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games which has never happened before. Right now, no one can stop them, and I don’t think anyone in Tampa is any different.
As if it’s not enough of a challenge to stop those two, wide receiver Mecole Hardman ran a 50-yard reverse and is one of the fastest players in football. They have so many players to get the ball to, and so many who can make big plays. While Tampa’s defense is one of the best in football, it’s going to be very hard for them to stop Kansas City for the entire game. They can probably stop the Chiefs for a quarter, maybe even a half, but if they can’t stop Kansas City for 60 minutes the Vince Lombardi Trophy is likely heading back to Arrowhead Stadium.
While the offense is the focal point of this team, the defense can hold its own. On paper, I wouldn’t say they’re as talented as the Bucs are, but they make plays and that’s what ultimately matters. Against Buffalo, they sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen four times. They also did a really good job of taking the Bills top targets out of the game. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was held under 100 yards and in the first half, he was a non-factor. He led the league with 127 receptions and 1,535 receiving yards this season, but the Chiefs did a great job of not letting him beat them single-handedly. I think they can do it again, and they will need to win.
After the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl 51, I never wanted to doubt Brady again, but as much as I want to pick Tampa because of Brady, I can’t. Last year I picked the 49ers to beat the Chiefs and was almost right, but it showed me why they play 60 minutes and not 50. This year I don’t want to make the same mistake again.
I’m picking the Kansas City Chiefs to win the 2021 Super Bowl because of how unstoppable their offense is. I think Mahomes is as clutch as Brady in the fourth quarter. I think it will be closer than it should be, but the Chiefs find a way late to win it. My score prediction is Kansas City 38, Tampa Bay 28. This should be a good game and a nice way to wrap up a season to remember.