Super Bowl 2021 Picks: How To Bet Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Super Bowl LV matchup sees two of the best teams in terms of efficiency facing each other. What made Conference Championship weekend so great is that the four teams were the top four on the season when it came to overall efficiency. Heading into the Super Bowl, the Chiefs rank second in overall efficiency, with the Buccaneers in fourth.
Offensively across the entire season, the Chiefs have an advantage. In terms of EPA/play they rank as the second-best offense. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers rank sixth, with the run game being the biggest difference between the two teams in terms of efficiency.
However, defensively, that advantage in the run game will likely be negated by the Buccaneers top ranked run defense. On the season, the Buccaneers defense ranks eighth in EPA/play, while the Chiefs are down in 20th. The concern for the Buccaneers is that we just saw the Chiefs beat the Bills, despite their run game having been largely negated throughout.
When we look back over the last five weeks, the Buccaneers have the advantage in all facets. However, that includes five quarters of Chiefs football in which they did not have Patrick Mahomes. Just looking at their performances in the playoffs gives the Chiefs the advantage on offense. However, the Buccaneers offense has gone up against three very good defenses in that stretch. For as good as the Browns and Bills were as teams, their defenses are a significant step down on Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay.
The key for this game is naturally going to be how the defenses matchup with the opposing passing games. The Buccaneers defense will hope to contain the Chiefs run game with a four-man front and force everything through Mahomes. Making the Chiefs one dimensional should in theory make them easier to defend. However, the Buccaneers will need a better plan for defending Tyreek Hill than they had in the first matchup. Hill dominated the game to the tune of 269 receiving yards on 15 targets. However, the majority of that came in the first quarter with the Buccaneers adjusting in the second half.
In terms of the matchup with Tom Brady, the Chiefs are a tougher matchup in some ways than any NFC team. The Chiefs have spent a lot of time scouting Tom Brady, especially in the recent past. The Chiefs faced Brady in the 2018 and 2019 AFC Championship games. However, this is a very different Brady-led offense than the Chiefs will be used to.
We saw the Chiefs slow down the Buccaneers offense in the first half of their previous encounter. However, Brady managed to work out the defense in the second half, nearly leading the team back from a 17-point deficit.
After the game in Week 12 finished as a three-point victory for the Chiefs, it is understandable the current line is Chiefs -3. However, only one team has beaten Brady twice in a season in his career. While that happened this past season, the Buccaneers offense has developed into a different beast over the past two months. It is extremely hard to bet against Brady or Mahomes in these circumstances. My early feeling is that this is a close game which is decided by three points either way. Therefore, my early lean is to take the Buccaneers getting the three points.