Well, I don’t think anyone would have expected that.
The Super Bowl LV Came and Went
The Super Bowl ended on Sunday without much noise from the Kansas City Chiefs. It came without the big chunk plays, the suffocating defensive stands, the illustrious comebacks. Hell, it even came without a Chiefs touchdown. Kansas City’s offense, which has looked impossible to stop all season long, was absolutely stymied by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I suppose it should have been expected, considering how effective Todd Bowles’ unit was against the likes of the Packers and Saints, but even against some of the worst offenses in football the Buccaneers have relented just the slightest bit, allowing a touchdown or two.
So, what was the difference between Sunday and the Chiefs’ Week 12 beatdown of the Buccaneers? Well, the most glaring difference was the pressure that Tampa Bay’s defensive line was able to put on, sacking Patrick Mahomes three times and hitting him nine, hitting the over on the Tampa Bay sack prop, compared to two sacks and seven hits in Week 12. That may seem small, but when you consider how sparce sacks and hits can be, that is a big difference, and what didn’t show up in the box score was the number of times Mahomes was hurried. The Chiefs really missed starting left tackle Eric Fisher in this one, who had to miss the game due to injury. It opened the floodgates.
A Betting Perspective
It was the Buccaneers once again cashing as a sizable dog (+140 on most books), but it didn’t happen like many Bucs bettors would have thought. Yes, Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, but his passing total prop still went under, as did Patrick Mahomes. The people expected a shootout through the air, and what we got was a battle in the trenches. Patrick Mahomes — whose over 0.5 interceptions was set at plus money — wound up throwing two.
The receivers for both sides really failed to show up, except for Rob Gronkowski. Gronk was +175 to score a touchdown, and wound up with two of Tampa Bay’s three, hauling in a team-high six catches and 67 yards. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans only combined for three catch and 40 yards, easily hitting their receiving unders. It was pretty much a night for unders all around, so it’s no surprise that the game total, which closed at 55.5, wound up hitting by a whopping 15 points.
What was most stunning to me was the change-up in how Tampa Bay has played all postseason. Tom Brady had thrived entering this week by spreading the ball around to all of his different receivers — including Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson —yet when it was all said and done only six different Bucs caught passes, which meant the over of 6.5 set at the DraftKings Sportsbook didn’t cash — a real shocker. The heroes of past weeks were not involved in the gameplan, instead Brady just went with what he knew would work against Kansas City, and that was Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski.
Fournette had himself a game of his own, rushing 16 times for 89 yards and a score while hauling in four passes for 46 yards. He once again established himself as The Bucs’ lead back, out-snapping Ronald Jones II, and leaving the Buccaneers to make a big off-season decision when it comes to who will lead the backfield.
At the End of the Day
The Buccaneers were fantastic on both sides of the football, and the Chiefs were out-coached and out-hustled. There was no sense of urgency until the fourth quarter from Kansas City, who has pieced together some monumental comebacks in the past, including last year’s Super Bowl. No one could have ever expected the Chiefs to fail to reach the end zone, and while it was an indictment on Andy Reid’s inability to make adjustments, it was also a credit to Tampa Bay’s swarming defense, which was in Mahomes’ face all night long.
Tampa Bay has to be considered the favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl, but it should lead to some fantastic contrarian options at the top sportsbooks, like these Kansas City Chiefs. With their offensive line healthy again, I’d like to see them get another crack at beating the Buccaneers.