The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off for the first time since Super Bowl LV. There are quite a few matchups to keep an eye on during the rematch on Sunday Night Football.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two teams that are trending in very similar ways. Both teams have great defenses, ranked in the top ten in sacks, yards per rush, and yards per pass attempt. Both offenses have been struggling as of late with both teams averaging less than 20 points per game over the last two weeks. If you listen to talk surrounding this game, however, it would seem as if the Bucs are still the big bad bully from Super Bowl LV and the Chiefs are still the soft team that got trampled.
Shaq Barrett’s comments from Wednesday seem to coincide with the general feeling about how these two teams are viewed on the national level. When the Chiefs got absolutely throttled on the game’s biggest stage, the NFL world started seeing that as the blueprint to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Words like “finesse” and “soft” started to be used to describe the Chiefs on both sides of the ball after that game even now, after hosting our fourth straight AFC Championship Game.
That horrid showing against the Indianapolis Colts last week has only emboldened Anti-Chiefer fans, seemingly giving them substantial fodder to prove that this Chiefs team is still what they all think they are. One game, however, does not a season make, and I believe that there is more fight in these Chiefs than what was shown last week. Here are some of the matchups that will be crucial to this week’s primetime matchup in Tampa Bay.
Chiefs Defensive Backs vs. Bucs Wide Receivers
Tampa Bay is still a little banged up in their wide receiver room this week. Mike Evans is the Bucs number one option with a bullet and is coming back from a one-game suspension after getting into a skirmish with New Orleans DB Marshon Lattimore. Chris Godwin is still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered 8 months ago and is listed as questionable. Julio Jones and Russell Gage are likewise listed as questionable after getting banged up and Breshad Perriman most likely will not play. Even if Godwin, Jones, and Gage play, you would have to think that they are not going to be at 100%.
The Bucs’ passing offense has been struggling this year, only putting up 211.3 yards per game which is in the bottom 10 in the league. Mike Evans should be one of the clear focuses of the defensive game plan and it will be interesting to see which defense defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo decides to put on him. L’Jarius Sneed seems to fit the mold as the big-bodied cornerback who would match up with him the best so that is going to be something very interesting to watch for.
Chiefs Offensive Line vs. Bucs Front Seven
This game may very well come down to the battle of the big boys up front. The Bucs have a slew of big mean men on the D-line and in the linebacker corps, even with new addition Akeim Hicks being ruled out for this game. There aforementioned Shaq Barrett is a key cog of Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme along with Pro Bowlers Devin White and Vita Vea, young gun Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, and veteran leader LaVonte David.
Tampa’s defensive front seven is fifth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and has the talent along the line to rush quarterbacks without the need to blitz. This is generally understood as one of the keys to beating the Chiefs’ offense as showcased in the team’s loss last week to the Colts where they hardly blitzed at all and still pressured quarterback Patrick Mahomes all day. The highly-touted Chiefs’ interior line consisting of Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith needs to be able to move bodies up front to create holes for the running game.
Orlando Brown Jr. needs to actually show that he is worth all of the money he is asking for in another big-time matchup or else this Sunday Night Football matchup is going to be another one where Mahomes is running for his life in Tampa Bay.
Chiefs DT Chris Jones Vs. Tom Brady
This matchup is not so much about what happens between the whistles, but more so about what happens after. Tom Brady is generally understood to be one of the biggest and loudest trash talkers in the league, as referenced by him basically starting the fight that led to Mike Evans being suspended. I cannot imagine what Chris Jones said last Sunday that would be worse than this as it earned him a devastating 15-yard penalty, but it had to have been way beyond what Brady said to Marshon Lattimore, right? RIGHT?
Either way, Brady and Jones are two of the more talkative players in the league, but Brady does have a knack for getting under his opponents’ skin (see Tyrann Mathieu in Super Bowl LV) without any sort of repercussions for his team and leading to penalties for his opponents. Brady has become more frustrated as of late with the lack of production of his offense, which is in the bottom ten of the league in points scored. Chris Jones, however fair or not, basically cost his team a win last week with an incredibly questionable Unsportsmanlike call in the loss against the Colts for words which, to this point, we have no record of.
Both players have a reputation for talking a little smack, but only one has actually been punished for it. Will this be the week that Brady finally gets an Unsportsmanlike Conduct called for his own actions, or will he rattle Chris Jones and company enough to step on their own and cost their team a penalty? It is going to be very interesting to see what turns out.
I believe this game is going to be a slugfest between two teams that really don’t like each other, even though they play in opposite conferences. The Chiefs have been stewing on that Super Bowl loss for nearly two years now and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers have been held in incredibly high esteem since their win. The trash talk has already been started so I am expecting chippy play for both teams. If the Chiefs can keep their heads and execute like we all know they can, we should see a Chiefs victory on Sunday Night Football. If they let Tom Brady and company’s talking get in their heads, we might be in for another long game.