The biggest day of the U.S. sporting calendar has arrived. That’s right, after an eventful regular season and an action-filled playoffs, it’s time for the 2020-21 NFL season to take a bow. It all happens this Sunday as in the last football game of the most recent campaign, the Kansas City Chiefs will battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in SB LV (6:30 PM ET; TV: Live on CBS). It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and all expectations are that this will be a great one.
Let’s get right to it, with our Bucs vs Chiefs prediction and picks as part of USA Betting’s full SB 55 preview.
The AFC was an incredibly competitive conference this year, but for the second straight year, the Chiefs emerged in a class of their own. Losing just two regular season games, all the while posting one of the league’s best offenses yet again, the Chiefs made the first part of defending their championship look easy.
Kansas City even managed to improve from last year’s squad, navigating a smooth offseason and adding key contributors through the draft. From 14-2 in the regular season, the Chiefs barely blinked in the playoffs either.
Save for an AFC divisional round scare with Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City didn’t face much trouble in the postseason. The team picked up wins over the Cleveland Browns and then the Buffalo Bills, reclaiming the AFC Championship for the second year in a row. That led them to the promised land, where Kansas City looks to accomplish a rare feat by winning consecutive Super Bowl titles. The last team to accomplish that was the New England Patriots, who just so happened to be led by the man Mahomes will be opposing on Sunday, the legendary Tom Brady.
Speaking of offseason improvements, perhaps no team in the NFL made more of a 180 in 2020-21 than the Buccaneers. Committed to winning now, the Bucs signed Brady, becoming just his second team in an illustrious decades long career. Brady leaving the AFC seemed to open things up over there but it did the opposite in his new conference, the NFC.
The Bucs, while not a perfect start, hit their stride early on to pick up some big wins. But they had big losses too, including two to rival New Orleans Saints and one game that is getting talked about a lot this weekend, a November 29th loss to the Chiefs. Dropping the game by a field goal’s margin, Kansas City went on a roll afterwards, winning their last four games and scoring at least 25 points in each.
They carried this momentum into the playoffs picking up wins over the Washington Football Team, finally beating the Saints, and defeating the NFC favorite Green Bay Packers to win the NFC Championship. This gave Brady the distinction of winning conference championships in both the NFC and AFC and on Sunday, in his record 10th title game, he’ll go for another distinction, by winning the Super Bowl for two different conferences.
When The Teams Last Clashed
It was week 12 of the NFL season and both teams found themselves in different positions entering the game. The Chiefs were still riding high in the AFC West whereas the Buccaneers were showing signs of struggling with playoffs no guarantee. That thought didn’t change either after Kansas City’s 27-24 victory. The Chiefs pulled out to a 17-0 lead as Tampa’s defense had no answer for how to stop Tyreek Hill.
Hill, who will be one of the guys to watch for on Sunday, had a monster game, catching a season high 13 passes for 269 yards and three of his NFL 2nd best 15 touchdowns. But to the Bucs’ credit, their offense fought back and Brady almost pulled off the comeback, scoring 14 fourth quarter points to bring the game within three. Brady relied on his own major weapon in Rob Gronkowski, who played his best game of the season in the loss. In the end, Mahomes just outgunned the legend, throwing for a season high 462 yards.
Sense a pattern here? The Chiefs needed some pretty all-time performances to beat the Bucs. Both teams are that good and on that next level. One major thing to watch for Sunday however, is Tampa’s defense. Much improved since the loss to the Chiefs, how the Bucs defense fares the second time around and what they can learn from week 12, will play a huge factor in which team ends Sunday night lifting the Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl LV Quick Hits
- Home Sweet Home: For the first time in NFL history, one of the teams in the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers, will get to lay claim to home field advantage in the Super Bowl as Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium plays host to the big game. It’s hard to say how this will factor into the outcome given there is no pre-existing data, but it’s worth noting, during the regular season (all their playoff games were on the road) the Buccaneers were just 5-3 at home. Their week 12 loss to KC came at Raymond James as well.
- Injury Report: The second injury report of the week was released on Thursday, with several notable names to keep an eye on. For Kansas City, both WR Sammy Watkins and RB Le’Veon Bell were limited in practice. Both are expected to play with Friday’s practice serving as a good indicator of the game action they’ll see and how healthy they’ll reasonably be by kickoff. For the Bucs, they are trending toward healthy with OLB Jason Pierre Paul moving from non-participant to limited, where he joins WR Antonio Brown and the pair of safeties, Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead.
Our Betting Preview’s Super Bowl Predictions Verdict with Picks
It all comes down to this. Can Brady win an astonishing seventh ring or will Mahomes continue to prove why he’s the future of this game? Many are calling this the battle of the GOAT vs the kid.
Why kid? Because a kid is a baby goat and in all estimations that is exactly who Mahomes is right now. Only injury or early retirement will keep this man from etching his name at or near the top of the record books, right alongside Brady.
That’s future talk. For now, the focus is on one game and one game only. According to the sportsbooks, the Chiefs sit at just three-point favorites, though expect the line to shift a little more in KC’s favor prior to game time. The total is a lofty 56 points, though knowing how these teams score, that shouldn’t be too hard to top.
Brady always brings his best to the big game and even in the two he’s lost, he has never been on the end of a lopsided blowout. Expect that tradition to continue. While we like both teams and expect a close game, take the Chiefs and the points to repeat as champions. So the Super Bowl LV predictions for this preview are:
- Bet the Chiefs -3pts on the spread @ -115 with Bovada or Bookmaker. It is -117 with BetOnline or -3.5pts at +100 (evens) with Intertops.
- Look for the over 56 total points @ -105 with Bookmaker or Bovada. It is -110 with Intertops. Alternatively, BetOnline are over 55.5pts at -116. This should be a high-scoring affair, with two of the league’s more capable offenses. Star power runs throughout both lineups so look for Sunday to be a showdown of the greats. The past vs the future. Or perhaps when the Chiefs win, more accurately, the past vs the present.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.