Here. We. Go. After six months of “will they, won’t they” make it, the NFL season has reached its climax – Super Bowl LV. The headlines basically wrote themselves the second that the matchup was settled on the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are in fact the first team to ever host the Super Bowl that they’re playing in. It’s the future of the league against the past. It’s a tenth Super Bowl appearance for Tom Brady, and the second straight for Patrick Mahomes. It’s a chance for the Chiefs to repeat, and would be the first team to do so since, yup, Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
There’s so much going into this weekend, and of course the world is watching. As we prepare for the action, let me share three things that I’m watching for on Super Bowl Sunday.
1) Does the Plug-and-Play Work
It’s no surprise to see Tom Brady playing in the championship game, but it is rather surprising to see him there with his new team so fast. When Brady went to Tampa Bay to play under Coach Bruce Arians, there was a question whether he would be successful, and it didn’t take long for the timeless quarterback to give everyone an answer.
Brady wasn’t the only quarterback to leave their long-time home and find success this season, as Philip Rivers also reached the playoffs in his first season out of a Chargers uniform, but to make the Super Bowl right away is truly something. In fact, it’s a feat reminiscent of Tom’s old counterpart, Peyton Manning, who went to the Super Bowl in his first season with the Denver Broncos after spending his entire career with the Colts. It should be noted, of course, that he lost that first appearance, but did return with the Broncos the next season to win his second championship.
With the recent success of elite quarterbacks who have joined new teams, this sets the precedent for the Matthew Stafford trade from Detroit to Los Angeles to play with the Rams to make it that much more interesting. The Rams, already a team who made it to the divisional round of the playoffs this season, hope Stafford, a statistically elite quarterback who only lacks trophies, can pull off what Manning, and possibly Brady, have done. This could set a chain effect for other elite veteran quarterbacks too, provided another team is willing to pay the price LA did.
2) Magical Season for the Peninsula of Misfit Toys
Now, the Buccaneers didn’t just get Brady this year, but allowed him to bring along his “old-reliable” in tight-end Rob Gronkowski, who had briefly retired for a year to test out the broadcast studio as well as the WWE. Tampa Bay further picked up Antonio Brown, who Brady was excited to play with in New England before the experience, and Brown, were cut short. Add in the team’s acquisition of released former first-round running back Leonard Fournette, along with their existing players in Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, and Tampa had themselves an island, or rather peninsula, of misfit toys. It would be interesting to see a group of players who have gone through so much reach the height of NFL success.
3 ) Defense, Defense, Defense
Some of those names that have been misfits in their careers are defensive players, and for all the talk that has and will be done on the offensive side heading into this weekend’s game, that only puts more pressure on the performances of the defenses who are tasked with limiting the opposing offense. There’s a ton of defensive star-power on both sidelines to make this game interesting, starting with the coordinators in Todd Bowles and Steve Spagnuolo. For the Chiefs there’s Chris Jones, Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu; for Tampa Bay they have Devin White, Shaquil Barrett, Vita Vea and the aforementioned Suh and Pierre-Paul. With two top offenses, this game could come down to the better defense.
Is there something that you’re watching for that I may not have on my list? How do you think this game is going to go? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @JarkClonas, and be sure to tag @110Sports.
Photo by: Third Photos 96 / Wikimedia Commons