Super Bowl matchup set

Connor Van Hulzen—Staff Writer

After the conclusion of the NFC and AFC Championship Games on Sunday, the participants in Super Bowl 55 have officially been determined. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on the night of February 7.

Super Bowl 55 will see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be the first team to ever play in the Super Bowl in their own home stadium, Raymond James Stadium. This Super Bowl will also see the Chiefs attempt to be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots won the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls.

Those 2004 and 2005 Patriots teams were led by quarterback Tom Brady. After a tumultuous season in 2019 that ended with a loss at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Brady left the comfort and familiarity of Foxboro, Massachusetts for the greener (and warmer) pastures of Tampa, Florida. He also brought with him another feature of multiple Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams, formerly retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The arrival of Brady, along with several other important pieces like Gronkowski and rookies Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr., was enough to push the previously-mediocre Buccaneers into the NFC Championship Game. During the game, a questionable decision was made by Packers head coach Matt LeFleur to kick a field goal down 8 in the fourth quarter and a timely pass interference call in the Bucs’ favor was enough to put the final nail in the coffin of the Packers’ season and get Tampa Bay to their first Super Bowl since 2001.

While Tampa Bay played a close game in their divisional championship, winning only 31-26, their soon-to-be Super Bowl opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, had a much easier time disposing of the Buffalo Bills.

After a rough start that included a muffed punt and a 9-0 deficit, the Chiefs found their footing in the second quarter, where they would go on to put 21 points on the board. As Kansas City continued to score touchdown after touchdown with a nearly perfect Patrick Mahomes and their devastatingly efficient offense, the Bills sealed their own fate by continuing to settle for field goal after field goal. The Chiefs went on to win 38-24.

Super Bowl 55 will see two high output offenses face off against two defenses that do not often get a ton of credit or recognition. It will also see a quarterback that is often considered the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady, share the field with Mahomes, who looks like he may someday steal that title from Brady.

While the Super Bowl is a much bigger stage than a Week 12 game that saw the Chiefs defeat the Buccaneers 27-24, it is easy to believe that some of the trends from that game will carry over into the championship game. Namely, that Tampa Bay’s defense struggled to contain the Chiefs’ seemingly endless supply of deadly offensive weapons. In that Week 12 game, Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 13 receptions for 269 and three touchdowns.

While that may instill hope in the hearts of Chiefs fans, there may be nothing scarier to any championship-hopeful than a Tom Brady-led team firing on all cylinders. With his victory against the Packers, Brady’s all-time record in the playoffs has climbed to 33-11. For comparison’s sake, coming into this season, the combined playoff records throughout the entire operating histories of the four franchises in the NFC South was only 34-43. Oh, and Brady is 6-3 in Super Bowl appearances while, again, the entire history of the four franchises that comprise the division of the NFC South results in a 2-4 record in Super Bowls.

Super Bowl 55 will most likely feature some of the best quarterback play human eyes have ever seen. However, the difference maker in this case may just be the defenses that are hoping to balance out the high-powered offenses. Whatever the case may be, the first week of February will again be home to a spectacle that will capture the attention of millions and be talked about for years and years to come.

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