You don't make it to the Super Bowl without a Super Bowl-caliber team. One look at this year's final two contenders, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, should prove that. The lineups are littered with talent. From Tyreek Hill to Travis Kelce to Tyrann Mathieu to Mike Evans to Antoine Winfield Jr., there are big names on both sidelines and both sides of the ball. But there's also a reason most of the headlines have to do with Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, who are each looking to make history in Super Bowl LV. Quarterbacks, after all, are the single most important players on the field, especially with a championship on the line.
That being said, we've got one heck of a QB matchup in this year's Super Bowl. In fact, there's an argument it couldn't be better. In one corner: the defending champion in Mahomes, who's the consensus top talent at his position around the NFL. In the other: Tom Brady, who's won more Super Bowls than any other QB and has a chance to own the most championships of any NFL player ever.
Which signal-caller has the advantage going into Super Sunday? How have the QBs fared in Super Bowls before? And what are their respective keys to victory ahead of Sunday's showdown in Tampa? We've got all that below:
Super Bowl resume: Well, to start, it's unlike that of anyone else. No one's been to more Super Bowls than he has, and the closest any other QB has come to his record number of appearances (10, including this Sunday) is John Elway, who played in five. Unsurprisingly, he owns almost every major Super Bowl record in the book, from all-time passing yards to combined titles. As you'll see below, Brady has not been immune to big-game turnovers, throwing an interception in five of his nine Super Bowls to date, but he's mostly been pretty darn good, never losing by more than one score and logging a 6-3 record on the NFL's biggest stage. Perhaps most importantly, Brady's always been notoriously efficient near the end of games, leading the Patriots to victory despite a 28-3 hole in Super Bowl LI, overcoming a 10-point deficit against Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX and taking the Eagles to the wire in Super Bowl LII.
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W vs. Rams, 13-3
21-35, 262 yards, 1 INT, 71.4 rating
|2017||LII||L vs. Eagles, 41-33||28-48, 505 yards, 3 TDs, 115.4 rating|
W vs. Falcons, 34-28
43-62, 466 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 95.2 rating
W vs. Seahawks, 28-24
37-50, 328 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 101.1 rating
|2011||XLVI||L vs. Giants, 21-17||27-41, 276 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 91.1 rating|
|2007||XLII||L vs. Giants, 17-14||29-48, 266 yards, 1 TD, 82.5 rating|
|2004||XXXIX||W vs. Eagles, 24-21||23-33, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 110.2 rating|
|2003||XXXVIII||W vs. Panthers, 32-29||32-48, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 100.5 rating|
|2001||XXXVI||W vs. Rams, 20-17||16-27, 145 yards, 1 TD, 86.2 rating|
Keys to victory:
- Move off the spot: This one comes straight from CBS Sports' Brady Quinn, who believes the Chiefs will dial up all kinds of looks and pressures to make Brady uncomfortable. Simply put, No. 12 needs to be comfortable stepping up to deliver the ball, when necessary. Brady is often at his best when he can be a statue in the pocket, but a little flexibility will go a long way here.
- Be selective with deep shots: Brady has done a very nice job airing the ball out in the run up to and during the playoffs, but he's also been relatively prone to turnovers -- not only this year but in Super Bowls, in general. That's always something you want to avoid, but it's doubly the case against the Chiefs, who are capable of putting points on the board faster than any team.
- Keep an eye on Tyrann Mathieu: TB12 has preached this himself, and for good reason: If anyone's capable of disrupting Tampa Bay's offense in a big way, it's probably the Chiefs' ultra-rangy safety. This goes hand-in-hand with the deep-shot guidelines: If Brady is going to take chances, he's got to be selective, keeping in mind Mathieu can swing the entire game with a turnover.
Super Bowl resume: Funny enough, one of Mahomes' worst statistical games of an otherwise Pro Bowl 2019 season came in the Super Bowl, his first -- and record-breaking -- championship, in which he threw a season-high two picks and posted his second-lowest passer rating (78.1) of the year. His second interception initially appeared to doom the Chiefs, who had fallen behind by 10 in the third quarter against San Francisco, but that's when he finally reversed course, reverted to MVP form and hit on several big plays to lead Kansas City to 21 unanswered points and the victory. His performance is a pretty good microcosm of his career thus far: Even when he doesn't start well or the numbers don't look pretty (granted, they often do), Mahomes' penchant for acrobatic throws and timely touchdown drives make him a constant threat to steal a victory.
W vs. 49ers, 31-20
26-42, 286 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 78.1 rating
Keys to victory:
- Be patient out of the gate: By "patient" we don't mean "slow." Quick decisions will be crucial against Tampa Bay's solid pass rush, especially with the Chiefs missing two starting tackles up front. Mahomes must remember, however, that he's got four quarters at his disposal. He doesn't need to force big plays early; instead, the priority should be wearing down and easing back the Bucs' "D."
- Unleash the deep ball on the blitz: This might run counter to the first point, but it really isn't, especially if applied more as the game wears on. If and when Tampa brings extra pressure, Mahomes should not be afraid to go for the kill shot. Because while K.C. would be smart to open patiently, it's still got unmatched downfield weaponry in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
- Don't be afraid to run: Priority No. 1 for the Chiefs is keeping Mahomes upright, and the QB plays a part in that, but we're probably not talking enough about No. 15's leg up on Brady on the ground. The last thing Mahomes needs to be doing is charging into Devin White past the sticks, but a scramble here and there could go a long way to sustaining momentum.