The Kansas City Chiefs are hoping to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 New England Patriots.
But they face the ultimate foe in Tom Brady, who has helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reach the NFL showpiece.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, three familiar faces break it down. Former NFL cornerback Jason Bell is co-host of the BBC’s NFL Show, Jeff Reinebold is a popular and incisive pundit on Sky Sports and Mike Carlson – who is well known to UK football fans after stints on the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – shares his wisdom.
Patrick Mahomes (L) and Tom Brady (R) are the star attractions in Sunday’s Super Bow LV
The Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is hosting the event
WHO WRITES TOM BRADY’S SCRIPTS?
JASON BELL: That guy… I’ve been around players that do everything they can to get themselves prepared. You watch it as a team-mate. So it doesn’t surprise you when they have success. And Tom Brady is that guy.
You think of his preparation in the offseason. It’s second to none. He’s on the beach with his shoulder pads on, working out. With his trainer. When you get to this moment and you see him having the success he’s having at his age, you understand why.
JEFF REINEBOLD: I don’t know. Even Hollywood wouldn’t take some of it, I think. It’s so out there!
Think about all the great athletes we’ve had the chance to watch their careers… Michael Jordan, Pele, Muhammad Ali. It’s really phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal!
MIKE CARLSON: What we saw last year was an incredible amount of frustration on his part because he didn’t have receivers that he trusted in his last couple of years in New England. You could really see that coming to the fore.
Brady, with his family (R) and model wife Gisele Bundchen (L), relocated to Tampa last year
Bill Belichick has never really prioritised picking up big name receivers unless they came at the right price, like Randy Moss. Brady went from that to a situation where he not only went into a high-powered offensive team but one which was willing to sign Antonio Brown, whose qualities he loves.
His presence gave Brady that ability to capitalise on mismatches, which has been the hallmark of all of his best passing New England teams. Whether it was Moss, who was an instant mismatch, or Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez or Gronk and receivers. And that gave him flexibility.
The bottom line is he joined a good team which made itself better for him. It was win-win. The Bucs were not a 7-9 team last year, they were a 10-6 team that Jameis Winston helped, but dragged back. And Brady came in and upped the touchdown passes and cut the turnovers.
And that was the story.
CAN PATRICK MAHOMES MATCH BRADY’S HAUL?
MC: I think it gets progressively harder to become a dynasty. Andy Reid is not going to coach forever.
An ideal situation might be if Andy retired while Eric Bieniemy is still young enough to be a head coach! But Mahomes has the talent to match with the best ever.
JR: If a guy’s going to make an historic run he needs a lot of things to happen. No 1 he needs to stay healthy, No 2 he needs to be in an organisation that’s committed for a long-haul win structure.
He put the first brick in the building of that thing last year when after the Super Bowl he signed that 10-year deal. It will keep him in Kansas City and it’s structured in a way where they should be able to keep good players around him.
Mom and Dad: Before Patrick Mahomes becomes a dad, he’s hoping fiancee Brittany Matthews can ‘hold off’ on giving birth so he can earn another Super Bowl championship title on Sunday
JB: The marriage between him and his head coach is a significant factor. And when you look at Mahomes and think about his future you think the only thing that can stop him breaking every single passing record is health.
But as far as winning these Super Bowls – I don’t know. What Brady has done is unreal and I don’t know if you can replicate that.
If anyone can it would be Mahomes, especially with that long term contract and his playmakers. From a historical fan point, I’m just lucky to be able to watch this thing.
AT 62 AND 68, ANDY REID AND BRUCE ARIANS ARE THE OLDEST HEAD COACHES TO TAKE CHARGE OF A SUPER BOWL – BUT THEY’RE NOT GOING TO LEAVE ANYONE WONDERING, ARE THEY?
JB: They both understand you’re in it to win it. You’re not in it to second guess decisions you make when it tries to winning the game and imposing your will. They both have that mentality. Yes, they are going to take chances and risks in this game.
This is a Super Bowl. When you have playmakers like they do – guys that you want the ball in their hands. That’s where you want to leave it at.
On the offensive side of the ball you’re going to see some fourth downs situations where they think, ‘We’re going to do it and we’ve got all the faith in our quarterback.’
MC: No-one has ever called Andy Reid a conservative coach. He’s not a Riverboat Ron kind of coach.
If Andy passes on a fourth and short on the 45 in his own half, that wouldn’t surprise me at all. Reid’s biggest flaw as a coach had been giving up on the run game when he needed points. He doesn’t have to do that anymore.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians (left) and Chiefs coach Andy Reid (right) won’t be afraid to gamble
I think you’ll see a lot of swing passes, backs out of the backfield to try and cope with some of the pressure that they’re going to get from the outside. You get a lot of those gadget jet sweeps. And Bruce Arians, yes, they’ll go for it.
The big thing with Arians – who is a really smart coach, a players’ coach – is the success he’s had in tandem with Todd Bowles, his defensive co-ordinator. It’s almost as though Brady is invigorated with Arians, who has had success with pocket passers throughout his career.
JR: That to me is going to be a fun one. It’s not like going to the heavyweight championship and watching two guys dancing around the ring and trying to figure each other. That ain’t going to happen.
This is going to be like Hagler v Hearns was in Vegas – they’re going to come into the middle of the ring and start pulling haymakers. These two coaches have a really, really good feel for what their teams want. They really listen to their players.
Andy and Bruce both have that open door policy. I think it’s going to be a really interesting coaching match-up. It’s not a game where it’s fourth and 8 and you want to go get a beer…
Reid with star quarterback Mahomes after last year’s Super Bowl victory against the 49ers
HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THE CHIEFS OFFENSIVE LINE?
JR: When you lose a guy like Eric Fisher to that achilles and you’re already down players. Before the season even started Laurent Duvernay-Tardif their real good left guard opted to stay in Quebec and work as a doctor.
Stefen Wisniewski’s going to have to play. Mike Remmers is going to have to play. Go back to the Super Bowl with Carolina. Remmers had a long day against Von Miller. He just had a nightmare that day.
He’s going to get another chance, but instead of Von Miller he’s going to have Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to deal with.
JB: It worries me a lot. Especially with Eric Fisher going down. When you look at what Patrick Mahomes has done all year he’s made these throws with movement outside of the pocket because he understands he’s going to have pressure.
It is not like he’s not prepared for this. It is going to be a significant factor, but he’s been playing this way all year.
Mahomes will have to cope with a weakened offensive line protecting him in Sunday’s match
He was getting hit earlier in the season, I was a little worried about him, and then he kind of had the offense game plan where Mahomes had this movement to get out of the pocket.
MC: Not hugely. But I think it’s a key point.
I made the mistake of going back and looking at Mike Remmers at right tackle for Carolina in Super Bowl 50. Jason Pierre-Paul is not Von Miller, but he’s not that far below and Andy is smart enough to give him some help.
You have to expect Mahomes is going to be able to move.
TAMPA’S SECONDARY HAS A FEW INJURIES TOO…
MC: Antoine Winfield I think is key. When you’re stopping Mahomes you need to be aware.
You have to cut off the deep play which means your safeties have to be back in some kind of formation. Whether you’re two deep or one deep and Winfield is that guy. But also you have to clog the middle, because Kansas City’s big strength is the middle of the field.
Tyreek Hill doesn’t beat you running fly patterns down the sidelines as much as he beats you running across the field. And instead of being 12 yards deep he’s already 25 years deep when he’s running the crossing route. And then of course there’s Travis Kelce underneath him to worry about…
JB: Their health is big. Those guys communicate. The safeties are the windows of your defense. They are talking to everyone.
Those guys help with the disguises that they will need to confuse Mahomes because you’re going to play zone against him.
The Bucs defense will have to try and limit Tyreek Hill’s influence with a injury-hit secondary
Especially Antoine Winfield who has had an unbelievable year, he’s played at an unbelievably high level for a rookie.
JR: When they lost Winfield before the Green Bay game and Jordan Whitehead during it, Todd Bowles had to go into a completely different structure defensively to protect the two younger safeties.
Winfield should play and Whitehead is trying to play. If they can get those two guys back that’s really big for them. But both these teams are dinged up.
It’s really going to be a game of whoever’s guys that are filling in for players can play the best.
HOW MUCH WILL EACH TEAM RUN THE BALL?
SUPER BOWL ODDS
- Kansas City Chiefs: 8/13
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11/8
- Kansas City Chiefs +3: 20/23
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3: 19/20
- Patrick Mahomes: 10/11
- Tom Brady: 15/8
- Travis Kelce: 12/1
- Tyreek Hill: 13/1
- Mike Evans: 25/1
- Leonard Fournette: 25/1
- Chris Godwin: 25/1
WHO WILL MVP MENTION FIRST?
- Team Mates: Evens
- God/Religion: 5/2
- Opposition Team: 4/1
- Winning City: 6/1
- Coaches: 7/1
- Family: 7/1
- Does Not Mention Any Listed: 10/1
- Disney: 10/1
- Owner: 10/1
- Referee: 25/1
Will Tom Brady Announce His Retirement? (Deadline End of Press Conference)
Odds provided by Betfair
JB: Tampa is definitely going to have to have success running the ball. For them to be able to do what they want to do, which is pass and protect Tom Brady on first down, it will have to be there. I expect Tampa to come out run the ball on first down.
Recently, said if you are going to play Kansas City a certain way and you’re going to be soft in the middle, then that’s where they are going to run. If your linebackers are trying to play with depth and you’re not respecting the run they are going to run the ball.
Both of these teams are going to try to attack the entire field in this game. That’s what’s brilliant about this game. They will attack every inch of ground.
Everyone is trying to take away the deep pass of Kansas City, so they attack everything else, from sideline to sideline. They make you move up and then it goes over your head.
Tampa Bay are trying to run to play a physical game. You’ve got to be physical to stop the run and that’s where Tom Brady – with some protection – can eat you alive vertically.
JR: Kansas City only runs it if you give them the run. If you give them a box that you can run in. I would anticipate Kansas City will use designed runs about 12 times in the whole game.
A couple of those will be fly sweeps to Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman, because Tampa is so dominant against the run. Vita Vea came back against Green Bay and when he and Ndamukong Suh are in together they give up less than three yards a run. That’s phenomenal.
Tampa Bay are the team that needs to run it for some balance in their offense. And I think Leonard Fournette could be a key in this game. He’s kind of an X factor guy.
If he and Ronald Jones can combine and get 120 yards rushing in the game, then Tampa has a real chance. They’ll be able to attack some of the looks that Kansas City slide in the box.
Kansas City historically has let you get the run against them. They’ll give up yards on the ground to keep you from getting big plays.
MC: For Tampa, Leonard Fournette occasionally looks like when he was a young player in Jacksonville. His best run against Green Bay was one where he hit the line of scrimmage and there was nothing there and spun out and got to the outside.
He’s not a bad pass catcher but he had a couple of drops in Green Bay and more during the season, so I might expect to see more Ronald Jones in this game.
Tampa running back Leonard Fournette (R) will be a key player for the offence this weekend
Kansas City relies a lot on gadget plays. Plays that run out of misdirection. Clyde Edwards-Hilaire did not look ready to play in the AFC Championship game but presumably he’s going to be two weeks healthier. He can handle inside running fairly well.
But I kind of think Tampa will come out and establish the run more than the Chiefs will.
I think Andy will come out and you’ll see that Bill Walsh style for the for the first 14 or 15 plays to feel out what Tampa’s doing. He’ll run through the whole repertoire quite early.
AS WELL AS BRADY v MAHOMES, IT’S GRONK v KELCE…
JR: For a ten-year stretch Gronk was the best tight end in football and Kelce has taken that mantle from him. Gronk made that play last week but Kelce is the engine which makes that Kansas City side go. It runs through him.
You’re going to get the flash plays from Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins. But look at Mahomes – when he needs a completion or a first down or needs to get a drive doing, almost invariably he goes to Kelce.
JB: They are two different guys. Travis Kelce is a big receiver. They don’t even ask him to block and he is a mismatch nightmare. Little guys get pushed around, bigger guys get outrun.
Tight-end Rob Gronkowski has re-formed his brilliant partnership with Brady in Tampa Bay
Gronk has never got the credit he deserves for his pass blocking and run blocking. Him and Marcedes Lewis are the best. These guys will crush you in the run blocking. Gronk can do that all day. And if you don’t respect Gronkowski, he will eat you up in the pass game.
He is a superior X-factor. I don’t think a Super Bowl has had tight ends like this who can change the game at any moment.
MC: Gronk is clearly on his last legs. He was two years ago before he took a year off! He has to gather himself up to get speed going, but once he gets the ball in his hands he can still run.
And he can still block. That’s been essential because Brady needs extra protection. They leave him in on a lot of pass plays. You’re a six man line and if they get the call right he’s blocking a defensive end, which he can do.
There aren’t many tight ends who can either pass or run block a defensive end one-on-one.
To call Kelce evolutionary Gronk is a bit strong. He’s quicker than Gronk ever was. He’s got long arms, a lot like a wide receiver. He’s probably a better runner.
Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce is another valuable weapon to Mahomes’ Chiefs on offence
Gronk’s running was always power running and once he got the ball, at 265lbs or whatever he was at his peak, he was really hard to bring down. Kelce is the best tight end in the game with George Kittle right behind him.
And both guys are surprisingly good blockers. They are complete tight ends.
WHO WINS THE SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE?
JR: Overall Kansas City has the best unit. In my opinion, a big advantage. I know Mecole Hardman dropped one last week, but they’ve got big time return guys.
They cover the kicks. Harrison Butker’s a solid guy and their punter’s real good too.
That’s always been a KC strength and it could be one of the deciding factors in the game because field position is so important.
JB: Kansas City because of the return threats. And never forget, if the game is tight, they will put Tyreek Hill back there.
Could the game come down to the form of the team’s respective kickers at key moments?
They’ve done it before in the Super Bowl. If they need a play they will put Hill back there…
HOW GOOD IS TAMPA’S DEFENSIVE LINE?
MC: Really good, especially if they can get four man pressure. JPP and Shaq Barrett are both speedy outside rush guys, strong and playing really well.
It was Vita Vea’s first game back in Green Bay and he didn’t look ready to play, but even so he’s a force inside and he can push two guys back on almost every play.
If he’s a little bit fitter and can go more snaps, a little more energetic that’s going to be huge for them, because it really takes the linebackers out of the rush, which means they can play nickel the whole game if they want.
They really have the quickest pair of inside linebackers you could find in Lavonte David and Devin White. White is basically a bigger, faster stronger version of David. And the two guys are great. It gives them fantastic coverage.
Tampa’s defensive line was a huge reason as to why the Bucs beat Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game
JR: There’s a package that Tampa runs, they don’t do it a lot, but I really think it could be the secret sauce for them. They take out Ndamukong Suh or Vita Vea and put in another defensive back so they can play with six DBs – but they don’t take out David or White.
And what that does for them, it puts more speed on the field because you’re going to need it against KC! Both White and David are really good pass rushers. So you can match KC’s speed on the field with another DB and keep your linebackers on the field.
And come up with what will look like blitzes. So you’ve got JPP and Shaq Barrett now you’ve got really your fastest line-up on the field.
ARE YOU CONCERNED BY THE DROPS IN GREEN BAY BY TAMPA’S RECEIVERS?
JR: Really the reason they Bucs are here – Brady is a great story and maybe the greatest quarterback of all time and all that stuff – but the reality of it is they’re her because of their defense.
Against Brees in New Orleans they set up short fields. But they weren’t particularly sharp on offense. And they weren’t particularly sharp on offense in the Packers game. They’re going to face a much better secondary in Kansas City than they have faced.
I don’t see Scotty Miller running uncontested for a touchdown on fourth down like we did in Green Bay. Kansas City doesn’t make those kind of mistakes. So they’re going to have to be on point.
Tampa receivers such as Mike Evans struggled at Green Bay and need to improve on Sunday
They can’t drop balls and let drives stop because they weren’t able to finish a play. Those receivers have got to come up big – Chris Godwin and Mike Evans – they’ve got to have big games.
JB: I don’t think it’s an issue. Godwin had a drop. But Tom Brady showed his faith in him, especially the deep one. Tom Brady wouldn’t do that with anyone other than Randy Moss or Julian Edelman.
And that’s what is very dangerous about this receiving corps. Brady is going to take risks with the ball down the field. That’s why he threw those interceptions in the playoffs. He expected Mike Evans to compete for the ball.
STEVE SPAGNUOLO CREATED THE BLUEPRINT FOR BEATING BRADY IN A SUPER BOWL – CAN HE DO IT AGAIN?
MC: Spags (Spagnuolo) had great edge rushers with the Giants. But the key was that Justin Tuck was so good up the middle. Against Buffalo, what you saw was that Spags adjusts to what the other team has got and what he has. Against Josh Allen he was sending secondary from the outside.
The weak spot in Tampa’s O-line is Aaron Stinnie, the back-up guard, so they’ll probably want to attack him.
And because of Gronk playing, they stretch the line out, which is going to take a little time off those edge rushers. And to be honest their best rushers are Frank Clark and Chris Jones, which suggests they’re going to come up the middle.
JR: When you look at this Kansas City defense, it’s probably better in the secondary but it’s not as good up front. I don’t know that they have the pass rushers that the Giants did.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has masterminded Super Bowl wins vs Brady
He’s going to have to manufacture some of that pressure. We saw it against the Bills where he would come with secondary blitzes against Josh Allen and keep him in the pocket. That was really effective. Brady doesn’t like vertical pressure.
Pressure on the edges he normally does a good job because he’ll slide up in the pocket. It’s when he can’t get up in the pocket, that’s when he struggles. It’ll be interesting to see what Spags dials up on him.
This week off is so critical. I don’t think there is a better coach in football than Andy Reid with a week to prepare. Coming off the bye he’s a killer…
JB: This is a match up to me. He’s going to try and do it by getting different looks at the back end.
Not just to confuse Brady but it’s also to knock his receivers off. They have to identify what kind of coverage he’s getting so they have to do that. Frank Clark and Chris Jones are going to have to win the game. Jones can rush from the inside or outside and Clark is a dominant pass rusher.
Can Spagnuolo stop Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl ring, but his first with the Bucs?
But the eraser is Tyrann Mathieu. If Brady is having too much success throwing the ball, expect Tyrann Mathieu to come on blitzes. One thing Spagnuolo always does is sell out to stop what you’re doing. If you’re having success throwing, he will sell out with pressure or coverage – he is not going to let you pick him apart.
Tampa’s defensive line is their strength. And they’re going to have to win this game. The only way to slow down Mahomes is to put him on his back.
That’s the game. That’s where it’s going to be run or lost.
Super Bowl LV is live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports on Sunday, February 7 – kick-off 11.30pm (GMT)
For more from Mike Carlson, listen to Betfair’s NFL Betting Only Bettor Podcast and follow Mike’s tips here www.betting.betfair.com/us-sports/nfl/