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Everything you need to know before watching Sunday's big game...  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
BY JEFF YODER
FEB. 05, 2021   | 
SUBSCRIBE  |  BROWSER VIEW

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Super Bowl LV: Sunday (6:30 pm ET)

Chiefs (14-2) | Bucs (11-5)

It’s finally here. I’ll admit I was skeptical last summer. It didn’t seem like the NFL could pull off an entire season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it did. Yes, there were positive tests each and every week, but only a few outbreaks sent teams into a total lockdown. The Tuesday and Wednesday postponed games were completely unique to this season, and the revolving door of backups and practice squad players was another 2020 staple. Yet somehow, at the end of it all, we arrive at a Super Bowl to be played on schedule. What a year.

The 2020 Season Rewind

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger roller-coaster of a season in NFL history than 2020. The Steelers went 11-0 and were the talk of the league before a monumental collapse. The Browns, Bills and Bucs made postseason history by breaking lengthy playoff droughts. Multiple star quarterbacks struggled and could be on the move this offseason, if they haven’t packed up already. What’s left in the final game is really no surprise — another Super Bowl appearance for Tom Brady, and a matchup against the kid who’s aiming to take his place as the greatest of all time.

History: Brady vs. Mahomes

There’s plenty of history to be made between the quarterbacks in this year’s game. Their 18-year, 45-day age difference is the largest between opposing QBs in Super Bowl history. It’s also the first Super Bowl in 55 years that features two QBs who have previously won a Lombardi Trophy and an MVP award. Brady vs. Mahomes should be an all-timer.

Let’s dive into Game 269 of the NFL season as we countdown to kickoff for the biggest night in American sports…

Team Comparisons

Does Defense Win Championships? If So, Advantage Bucs

The Bucs looks good on paper, but stats aren’t everything. Both Super Bowl teams enter the finale with top-ranked passing offenses, a formidable run game and an average of roughly 30 points per game. The Chiefs accrued more yardage this season (Mahomes’ yards), but the Bucs were more efficient at capitalizing (Brady’s TDs). 

On the defensive side, it’s clear that Tampa Bay holds the edge. They have a top-10 defense in most statistical categories, but the biggest storyline in this one could be red zone efficiency. Surprisingly, Kansas City’s defense ranks last in red zone touchdown percentage — dead last. Bucs’ wide receiver Mike Evans leads the league in red zone touchdowns. The Brady-Evans connection could be the x-factor on Sunday.

Beyond the Numbers

What the numbers don’t show is how close the scoreline should be on Sunday. The Bucs haven’t lost since these teams played each other in November (27-24). The Chiefs have won nine of their last 10, but eight of those nine wins have come by six points or less. KC’s 14-point win over the Bills in the AFC Championship Game was their largest win since Nov. 1 against the Jets.

The Chiefs may be favorites, but they haven’t been blowing teams out. The Bucs, on the other hand, have shaped their identity in keeping games close, then winning those games late in the season. They lost just two games all year by more than a field goal — both against the Saints.

Betting Odds for SBLV

It’s no surprise the Chiefs get the nod after returning to the big game. Kansas City (-3.5) is a slightly more than a field-goal favorite. The over/under is 56.5 points, which feels a bit lofty. None of the playoff games in the first two rounds (10 total) broke the 56-point mark, but both conference championships exceeded it.

Editor’s Pick: Chiefs Win (30-28)

I like the Chiefs in a dramatic finish that features dueling game-winning drives… Tampa Bay takes a late lead (28-27) before Mahomes engineers a miraculous drive to set-up kicker Harrison Butker for the game-winning field goal. Chiefs win but don’t cover, and I like the over. Repeat, Pat!

Additional Storylines

B/R: Ranking the Top-25 Players in Super Bowl LV

USA Today: Super Bowl LV Picks: Chiefs or Bucs for NFL Championship?

Video: How We Got to Super Bowl LV (Mic’d Up Footage From the NFL Playoffs)

AFC
The Kansas City Chiefs

Photo: Kirk Irwin / Getty Images

How Kansas City Takes Step 2 in Building a Dynasty

It’s still just the beginning. Patrick Mahomes is 44-9 in his first 53 NFL games, and now he’s on the brink of his second Lombardi Trophy at age 25. Tom Brady (26) holds the record for youngest quarterback to win multiple championships, and that’s just one of many records on the line in this one.

After signing a $503 million contract last summer — the largest in sports history — Mahomes and the Chiefs are already nearing dynasty territory. Super Bowl win No. 2 could be the second verse in the long, long ballad of Mahomes’ song, but the music depends on his weapons. If the Chiefs continue to have an embarrassment of riches on offense, this is only just beginning.

Players to Watch

  • QB Patrick Mahomes
  • RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • WR Tyreek Hill
  • TE Travis Kelce
  • DE Chris Jones
  • DE Frank Clark
  • S Tyrann Mathieu
  • K Harrison Butker

Additional Storylines

SI: Andy Reid’s Coaching Tree Covers Both Super Bowl Sidelines

CBS Sports: Memo to Bucs: Pressure Mahomes or Lose Super Bowl LV

NFC
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

How Tampa Bay Went All-In on the Brady Sweepstakes to Win Now

It had been 18 years since the Buccaneers first reached the Super Bowl (2003), and they hadn’t been back since. Tampa Bay’s path back to the big game was an abrupt turnaround. On March 20, 2020, Tom Brady left New England to sign a two-year deal with the Bucs. Joining an offensive-minded coach in Bruce Arians and a loaded offense, the expectations were championship or bust. The later additions of RB Leonard Fournette and WR Antonio Brown only added to the Bucs’ untouchable offensive firepower. Then, the defense surprised the league as it turned in a top-10 season.

A 7-5 start through October had many fans believing Tampa would have to wait until Brady’s second season of creating chemistry before making a deep run, but TB12 isn’t most quarterbacks. The 43-year-old QB turned it on down the stretch. In his last seven games (all wins), Brady has thrown 19 TDs, 4 INTs and four 300-yard games.

Tampa won the Tom Brady sweepstakes. 322 days later, they’re the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home venue. Ring No. 7 is calling.

Players to Watch

  • QB Tom Brady
  • RB Ronald Jones II
  • RB Leonard Fournette
  • WR Mike Evans
  • WR Chris Godwin
  • LB Shaquil Barrett
  • LB Lavonte David
  • LB Devin White
  • CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
  • S Antoine Winfield Jr.

Additional Storylines

The Ringer: The Star of Super Bowl LV Will be the Buccaneers’ Massive Pirate Ship

ESPN: Why the Tampa Bay Bucs Were the Only Team That Could Get Bruce Arians Back Into Coaching

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

🏀 NBA: LeBron Shines in MVP Matchup

Two of the leading candidates for MVP went head-to-head Thursday night. LeBron James and the Lakers beat out Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets (114-93) thanks to a 27-point triple double from LBJ. Jokic had just 13 points.

🏒 NHL: Ovechkin Moves Up Goals List

Alex Ovechkin scored his 709th career goal for the Capitals in Thursday night’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers. Ovi passed Mike Gartner for seventh on the NHL all-time goals list. Next up? Eight more to reach Phil Esposito.

⚽️ EPL: Tottenham Tumbles Again

Chelsea were 1-0 winners over Tottenham in Thursday’s Premier League action thanks to a PK strike from Jorginho (’24). The three points bumped the Blues up to sixth in the EPL table, while Spurs have won just one match in their last five.

🏀 NCAAM: #7 OSU Tops #8 Iowa

A top-10 matchup in the Big Ten stole the show on Thursday night as 7th-ranked Ohio State beat out 8th-ranked Iowa (89-88). The Buckeyes overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half and held Luka Garza to just 16 points.

THE STORYLINES

🏀 NBA: 1st Returns for All-Star Voting

Kevin Durant and LeBron James lead their respective conferences after the first returns of NBA All-Star voting. Durant holds the top spot (2.30 million) with James in second (2.28 million). Steph Curry (2.11 million) was the only other player to crack the 2-million mark. (NBA.com)

⚾️ MLB: The President’s First Pitch

Senior officials of the Biden administration spoke with MLB last week about a one-month delay for the season while getting players vaccinated in time for opening day, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. (Yahoo! Sports)

🏈 NFL: Offseason Needs for Every Team

With just Super Bowl LV left to play to wrap the 2020 NFL season, almost every team’s attention has turned to the offseason and to the moves they need to make to be the ones fighting for the Lombardi Trophy in a year’s time. (Pro Football Focus)

📰 THE HEADLINES

Former Cy Young Winner Felix Hernandez Signs Minor-League Deal With Orioles

(CBS Sports)

 

Liverpool Denied Entry Into Germany for Next Week’s Champions League Match

(ESPN)

 

Multiple Teams Calling Eagles About Trade for QB Carson Wentz

(Bleacher Report)

 

Famous Bettor “Mattress Mack” Places $3.4 Million Bet on Bucs to Win SBLV

(USA Today)

 

Kings Guard De’Aaron Fox Calls NBA’s All-Star Game Plan ‘Stupid’

(Sports Illustrated)

 

Colorado Avalanche Games Postponed Through Feb. 11 Due to COVID-19

(NBC Sports)

 

🗓️ WEEKEND SCHEDULE
The Must-Watch List

Game 269 of the NFL season will be its last as we crown the Super Bowl champ on Sunday night. We have our eyes on 10 other events before the big game. Day 1 of the Australian Open begins when we return on Monday. Enjoy Super Bowl LV, and be safe.

Super Bowl LV

Chiefs vs. Bucs (Sun. 6:30 pm ET, CBS)

NBA

Celtics at Clippers (Fri. 10:00 pm ET)

Nets at 76ers (Sat. 8:00 pm ET)

Warriors at Mavericks (Sat. 8:30 pm ET)

Full NBA Schedule

NHL

Bruins at Flyers (Fri. 7:00 pm ET)

Avalanche at Blues (Sun. 3:00 pm ET)

Full NHL Schedule

Premier League

Liverpool vs. Man. City (Sun. 11:30 am ET)

NCAA (Men’s Basketball)

#10 Alabama at #18 Missouri (Sat. Noon ET)

#19 Wisconsin at #12 Illinois (Sat. 2:30 pm ET)

N. Carolina at Duke (Sat. 6:00 pm ET)

#11 Tennessee at Kentucky (Sat. 8:00 pm ET)

PGA Tour

WM Phoenix Open (All Weekend)

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