The Super Bowl matchup is set, as the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to face off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa in four days. Interestingly enough, the Buccaneers will become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, and the Bucs' defense is going to need that home-field advantage if they want to stop this explosive Chiefs offense. Patrick Mahomes and Co. racked up 439 yards of total offense against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship game, as they coasted to a 38-24 victory. The Buccaneers were in a much closer conference championship game against the Green Bay Packers, but they were able to escape the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field with a 31-26 win.
This will be the first Super Bowl to feature the last two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. The Chiefs and Buccaneers actually met in Tampa in Week 12, and Kansas City left Florida with a 27-24 victory. The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, but slowly allowed Tom Brady and the Bucs to get back into the game. The Buccaneers did score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but that wasn't enough to pull off a comeback win. Still, that was the Buccaneers' last loss, as they reeled off seven straight wins to make the championship game. Will Super Bowl LV follow a similar script to their matchup earlier this season? Which players can we expect to stand out on the biggest of stages? Below, we will examine five early Super Bowl predictions.
Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.
1. Tyreek Hill goes for over 100 receiving yards, wins Super Bowl MVP
Hill has proved he is one of the best receivers in the NFL over the past few seasons -- and certainly the fastest -- but the Pro Bowl wideout has been playing on a different kind of level as of late. In the Chiefs' divisional round matchup against the Cleveland Browns, he caught eight passes for 110 yards, and then exploded for 172 yards on nine catches in the conference championship game. His 172 receiving yards were the most in a playoff game in Chiefs history, and it marked his third straight postseason game with over 100 receiving yards. In the Chiefs' Week 12 meeting with the Buccaneers, Hill had what was the best game of his career. He went off for 269 yards and three scores on 13 touches through the air, and no one in Tampa Bay's secondary could contain him. With how he has been playing in the postseason coupled with the fact that he torched the Buccaneers earlier this year, go ahead and take the Over on Hill's receiving yards prop.
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2. Mahomes gets sacked four times
Mahomes has only been sacked four or more times thrice in his entire career, but it could happen in the Super Bowl. His left tackle Eric Fisher suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship game and fellow tackle Mitchell Schwartz is already on injured reserve with a back injury. When Fisher exited the game, Mike Remmers moved from right tackle to left and Andrew Wylie moved to right tackle, so that may be a lineup the Chiefs stick with in Super Bowl LV.
The Buccaneers' defensive front dominated the Packers at the line of scrimmage, and Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for five sacks on Aaron Rodgers. You have to imagine the Bucs' defensive game plan will include pressuring Mahomes, especially now that he doesn't have a couple of important offensive linemen in the lineup. Mahomes was sacked twice against the Buccaneers earlier this year, and that could double this time around.
3. Rob Gronkowski catches a touchdown pass
Gronk's decision to come out of retirement and play with Brady in Tampa worked out pretty nicely, no? In 16 regular-season games, he caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns, but has caught just two passes for 43 yards in three postseason games. Interestingly enough, Gronk put up season-high numbers against the Chiefs in Week 12, as he caught six passes for 106 yards. This will be Super Bowl No. 6 that Brady and Gronk have played in together, and the star tight end has had some success in the big game. He caught six of seven targets for 87 yards against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LII, and also recorded nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. My prediction is that Brady looks to him when the Buccaneers are in the red zone, and he scores a touchdown in what could potentially be his final NFL game.
4. Crucial second-half turnover seals the deal
Like in the first meeting between the Bucs and Chiefs, Super Bowl LV will be a close affair. The Chiefs probably won't jump out to a 17-0 lead this time around, and it will come down to which team can outperform the other in the second half, when every possession is precious. Brady allowed the Packers to creep back into the game with three second-half interceptions on Sunday, and the Chiefs have shown the potential to take over games in the final two quarters. In Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs outscored the 49ers 21-10 after both teams scored just 10 points in the first half. I can see Brady throwing an interception in the third or fourth quarter that completely shifts momentum in favor of Kansas City.
5. Chiefs repeat as champions
It would be quite the story if Brady won the Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers, but the magical run ends here. It is so hard to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but the Chiefs appear built to do so. The defense has been playing extremely well and then the offense is virtually unstoppable. We know Mahomes is special, but Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are playing some of their best football. They just became the first duo to have two games of 100-plus receiving yards in a single postseason! Mahomes builds on what is already an impressive NFL career by taking down the "GOAT" in Super Bowl LV.