Super Bowl 55: 7 biggest questions ahead of Chiefs-Bucs Super Bowl

Super Bowl 55 is set.

This year, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will fight for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in the final game of the 2020-2021 NFL season.

Representing the NFC will be the Bucs, who finished the regular season 11-5 and are making the Super Bowl as a No. 5 seed. They narrowly defeated the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, 31-26, and will now look to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl.

For the AFC, it’s the Chiefs for a second-straight year following their 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills. The defending champs are trying to build a dynasty in the making by becoming to first team to win the Super Bowl in consecutive years since Brady and the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004.

Speaking of dynasties, Tom Brady will look to claim his seventh Lombardi Trophy in his first season with Tampa Bay after winning six in New England. It’s Brady’s 10th appearance in the Super Bowl.

This will be the second time Brady and Mahomes have faced off in the playoffs, the last being in the 2019 AFC Championship that saw Brady and the Patriots come way with a 37-31 win in overtime. That was also the Chiefs’ last postseason defeat.

Here is what you need to know about Super Bowl 55.

How to watch Super Bowl 55

  • Teams: Buccaneers vs. Chiefs
  • Date: Sunday, Feb. 7
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET (Approximate kickoff time: 6:30 p.m.)
  • Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)
  • TV Channel: CBS
  • Announcers: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will call the action.
  • Online Stream: FuboTVCBS All-Access and CBS Sports.
  • SB Nation’s Chiefs Blog: Arrowhead Pride
  • SB Nation’s Bucs Blog: Bucs Nation

How many fans can attend Super Bowl 55 LV?

We’ll be seeing history made when the Buccaneers ‘host’ Super Bowl 55. They have become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home venue, as Raymond James Stadium will host this year’s title game.

After the Buccaneers had limited fan attendance this season due to COVID-19, the NFL is allowing 22,000 fans to attend Super Bowl LV.

The Buccaneers went 5-3 at home in the regular season, which included a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs in Week 12, so beating Brady in this stadium can be done. Will this homefield advantage actually help against a Chiefs team that’s already won in this stadium?

Will Mahomes get revenge on Brady?

The biggest story of Super Bowl 55 is going to be Mahomes vs. Brady II.

The first time these two faced off in the postseason came in that 2019 AFC title game when Brady’s Patriots walked it off in OT with Mahomes never touching the ball in the extra period. That is still the only playoff loss Mahomes has ever suffered in the NFL.

While Brady is currently regarded as the greatest QB of all-time, Mahomes is off to a fast start toward making that claim before his career is over. Already having made two Super Bowl appearances before his third season as a full-time starter even ends, Mahomes is the future of the NFL, and he looks primed to have a record-breaking career of his own.

But to be the man, you gotta beat the man.

Mahomes has a long hill to climb to ever surpass Brady as the GOAT, but beating him in the Super Bowl would be a major step forward.

If Brady wins, however, he’ll claim his seventh Lombardi Trophy, two of which will have come at Mahomes’ expense. That would further solidify Brady as the greatest and make it extremely difficult for anyone to ever top.

Can Tampa Bay’s suffocating defense slow down Mahomes?

Despite finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record, the Buccaneers entered the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 5 seed, which meant they’d very likely have to win three road games to make just the franchise’s second Super Bowl and first since 2003.

Only three teams in NFL history had ever won three road games to make the Super Bowl, one of which being the 2010 Packers led by Aaron Rodgers, who won his first and only Lombardi Trophy that season.

As the old saying goes, defense travels, and Tampa Bay’s has done that in a big way.

After dispatching Washington in the Wild Card Round, the Bucs suffocated the Saints in the Divisional Round, grabbing four turnovers and forcing Drew Brees into arguably his worst playoff game ever. New Orleans swept the regular-season series with Tampa Bay to win the NFC South, but no one has ever beaten Tom Brady three times in the same season, especially when he’s got a defense like this.

Then came the NFC Championship at historic Lambeau Field against a fellow future Hall of Fame QB in Aaron Rodgers. Though it was billed as a Rodgers – Brady clash, it was Tampa’s defense that stole the show, holding the Packers to just 26 points, sacking Rodgers five times, and forcing two turnovers, both of which were converted to touchdown.

Even more impressive was the Buccaneers defense allowing just seven points off of Brady’s three interceptions. Through three playoff games, they’ve allowed an average of 23 points per game, have forced seven turnovers and allowed just eight touchdowns.

This defense is the real deal, and they’ll need to keep playing like it to slow down the Chiefs’ loaded offense.

Will Brady win his first ring without Bill Belichick?

It’s been a magical season for Brady, who turned 43 prior to Week 1 and went on to equal that number in total touchdowns (40 passing, 3 rushing) during the regular season. He finished his first season in Tampa Bay with 40 touchdown passes (most ever by a player in his first season with a team) and 4,633 passing yards (second-most ever by a player in his first season with a team).

Brady, who already holds the NFL record for all-time playoff wins by one player, now has 33 to his name, 12 ahead of former teammate Adam Vinatieri with 21.

But this time around, Brady managed to accomplish something he’d never done in his Hall of Fame career: Win three road games to make the Super Bowl.

Can Brady now finish the deal and win his first Super Bowl without Bill Belichick? The two combined to win six during Brady’s time with the Patriots. When the team opted not to re-sign him this past offseason, many wondered if Brady could win a title without Belichick.

Now, Brady is one game away from further validating his status as the greatest QB of all time, even though he spent much of his career with arguably the greatest head coach of all time.

Will Antonio Brown play (and be effective) in the Super Bowl?

The Buccaneers managed to get by the Packers without the services of Antonio Brown, who was out with a knee injury suffered in the Divisional Round. The injury came just as Brown was establishing good chemistry with Brady, including two catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in the 31-23 Wild Card win over Washington.

Brown didn’t practice at all leading up to the NFC Championship, so for now, he looks questionable for the Super Bowl, even though he’ll get nearly two weeks to recover for it. Even if Brown plays doesn’t mean he’ll be healthy enough to make an impact. We’ve seen teams deploy injured receivers to effectively use as decoys, similar to what we saw the Saints essentially do with Michael Thomas in the Divisional Round (Thomas reportedly had a torn deltoid and other ligament damage).

Though he is no longer at Thomas’ level, Brown is still someone who will draw attention from the defense if he’s simply on the field. But to win a potential shootout with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-powered offense, the Bucs really need Brown to make an impact catching the ball.

It would also be quite the comeback story for Brown after his off-field issues appeared to have nuked his NFL career. He’s now one game away from hoisting his first Lombardi Trophy. And given his pending legal issues, he may not get another.

Can ANYONE stop Travis Kelce?

Travis Kelce has left no doubt he’s the best tight end in the NFL. He’s also in the process of having the greatest season a tight end has ever had.

After setting the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end, Kelce is having a torrid postseason with 21 grabs for 227 yards and three scores in wins over the Browns and Bills.

Dating back to Week 8, Kelce has caught seven-plus passes in 10-straight games, an absurd rate for an All-Pro wide receiver, let alone a tight end.

Forget position labels. Kelce is establishing himself as one of the best pass-catchers in NFL history, and he has chance to further cement that belief with another Super Bowl-winning performance.

In the regular-season win at Tampa Bay, Kelce caught all eight of his targets for 82 yards in the 27-24 win. The Bucs defense will have to do better in the rematch to pull off the win.

Will Bruce Arians become the oldest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl?

It’s been a magical brief coaching career for Bruce Arians, who didn’t become a full-time NFL head coach until he was 60 when the Arizona Cardinals hired him in 2013 (he did go 9-3 as the interim head coach of the Colts in 2012 while Chuck Pagano recovered from cancer). He went 49-30 across five seasons with an NFC Championship Game berth in 2015 (lost to Panthers) before briefly retiring following the 2017 season.

Arians would unretire and take the Buccaneers head-coaching job in 2019. After a year behind 30-for-30 Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers managed to land Brady in the offseason after the Patriots opted not to re-sign him.

Now, Arians is coaching in his fourth Super Bowl and first as a head coach (he went to three as an assistant with the Steelers). He has a chance to become the oldest NFL head coach to ever win a Super Bowl, surpassing Bill Belichick doing it at age 66 in Super Bowl 53 (read more on the oldest coaches to ever win a title here).

How will Chiefs slow down Shaquil Barrett following Eric Fisher injury?

After a slow start in just his third trip to the playoffs, Shaquil Barrett reminded everyone why he’s one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers. Though he didn’t record a second in Tampa Bay’s first two playoff games, Barrett erupted for three sacks in the NFC Championship vs. the Packers, two of which came in the fourth quarter with his team clinging to a one-score lead. He chipped in two tackles for loss and four QB hits for good measure.

When the Chiefs and Bucs played in the regular season, Barrett managed to get one sack, two QB hits and one tackle for loss. While a solid outing, Tampa Bay needs Barrett to have a bigger impact to stop the Chiefs’ high-scoring offense.

Part of why Barrett didn’t go off in the first matchup was the Chiefs’ standout offensive line, which allowed the fifth-fewest sacks (24) in the regular season. A big part of that was left tackle Eric Fisher, a two-time Pro Bowler who’s one of the league’s best blindside protectors.

Unfortunately, Fisher suffered a major injury late in the Chiefs’ AFC Championship win over the Bills. The team announced it was an Achilles injury, and teammates were seen consoling him after the game, so it’s not looking good that he plays again this season.

If Fisher misses the Super Bowl, Mike Remmers is a suitable replacement (he currently has a solid 70.1 PFF grade compared to 80.0 for Fisher), but it’s still a downgrade that Tampa Bay will look to exploit in Round 2. and Barrett will be a big part of that.

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