As the penultimate game of the strangest NFL season draws near, here are some of the most interesting storylines to pay attention to for Super Bowl LV.
Mahomes Missing His Protection.
With the injury to Kansas City Chiefs’ LT Eric Fisher, RT Mike Remmers will be sliding over to the blindside leaving Patrick Mahomes with both back up tackles on the field. Against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship who was also missing his starting left tackle, the Tampa Bay pass rush wreaked havoc with eight quarterback hits and five sacks.
As the Chiefs enter the game, their offence’s primary goal needs to be slowing down Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett while holding the interior against two of the top defensive tackles in Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh.
The bad news for Kansas City is that the man tasked with the backside, Remmers, did not fare well in his only career Super Bowl appearance. He surrendered two key sacks to Von Miller of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
Two out of Ten
For the second time in Tom Brady’s ten Super Bowl appearances, the future Hall of Famer will enter the game as the underdog. The first time he found himself in a similar situation was the first of his ten attempts at the Lombardi Trophy. In that game in the 2001-2002 season, Brady wound up defeating the St. Louis Rams and their high powered offence 20-17.
Noticing any parallels? A record breaking offence who had a Super Bowl under their belts, going against Tom Brady in his first year starting for a team that had a fantastic defence. While the betting line for this game is only 3.5 points instead of the 14 point margin in 2002, history may repeat itself in Tampa this weekend.
With Brady being the underdog for the second time in a Super Bowl, not many people are comfortable betting against him. After his dismantling of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, many believe it to be an even worse line. Even with one of the worst halves in his career, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were still able to take down the top seeded Packers, proving once more that it is not wise to bet against the greatest of all time.
Kansas City Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has had success against Brady as his then New York Giants defence prevented the New England Patriots from finishing the season undefeated. Although lots has changed for both, the memories are still there too with Spagnuolo approaching the game with a similar plan. A stout four man pass rush and fast defensive backs able to run with anyone they line up against will hopefully be enough to stump Brady once more.
Brady on the other hand has seen every defence imaginable over his long career, but with a new scheme and weapons in Tampa, he has found a fresh way to attack them that keeps teams off balance. With a part of Bruce Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy and Brady’s “death by a thousand cuts” both being shown this season, the playbook for the Bucs will create new challenges for the Chiefs Coordinator to stop.
Home Field Advantage
For the first time in Super Bowl history, the host city will also be partaking in the game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take the field on Sunday evening. While the home field advantages will be limited as they cannot use the stadium cannons after the player introductions, there may be more fans cheering for the Buccaneers instead of the usual 50/50 split.
Other small advantages include the lack of travel, the comfort of being at home all week, a home locker room, and the familiarity of the playing field. The biggest one of the previous advantages is the knowledge of the playing surface. With 30 different home fields and multiple grass or turf styles, playing on one for the majority of the year allows a player to know how the field reacts.
When you make a sudden cut or are trying to get up to top speed, knowing how a field plays will allow you to get away with more than someone who is unfamiliar. Looking back on the season, take a peak at when the Baltimore Ravens travelled to Cleveland in Week 14. The Ravens found themselves sliding all over the place in the first half before having to change cleat studs for the second half.
When two teams travel to a neutral site, the advantage is minimal thanks to both not being used to the surface. This year however, the Bucs are at a major advantage in Raymond James Stadium.
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