The Kansas City Chiefs are 60 minutes away from finishing their “Run It Back” campaign, which would make them the ninth team in NFL history to win back to back Super Bowls and the first team to do so since the New England Patriots did it in 2004. After steamrolling their way to a 14-1 record (in games that their starters played) and embarrassing any team that made their way to Arrowhead during the playoffs, the Chiefs are on the verge of justifying fans’ use of the word “dynasty” last offseason.
However, despite the Chiefs easily putting the Buccaneers away earlier this season, the Chiefs are not guaranteed anything this Sunday and need to play four full quarters of football. The Chiefs likely win this game by just playing their brand of football, but if they want to guarantee a win, there are some things that the Chiefs need to do:
Throw the Ball 60 Times
The Chiefs absolutely torched the Bucs through the air in their first meeting, hitting 462 yards through the air. They started the game with the foot on the gas, putting up over 250 of those passing yards and 3 of their passing touchdowns in the first quarter alone, with Tyreek Hill embarrassing Carlton Davis.
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The Bucs have the best-run defense in the league, which means that teams have to pass the ball to beat them. This is why the Bucs only lost one game this season where their opponent completed less than 20 passes.
The Chiefs need to keep passing the ball, over and over and over again, even if they are ahead by a ton or behind by a ton. We have seen the Bucs keep opponents in games with late interceptions and poor fourth-quarter performances, so if the Chiefs stay at it, they can win this game.
Make Brady Go Deep
Tom Brady is tossing free interceptions this season, most of them coming on his deep passes. He had three interceptions against Green Bay (and four dropped interceptions) in one of the most vulnerable performances of his career. This season as a whole has made Tom Brady look very vulnerable, tossing almost as many interceptions this season as he did in the early years of his career. He is throwing bad passes 20.6% of the time, putting passes on target less than three-quarters of the time, and only 5% of his incompletions can be blamed on dropped passes.
The Chiefs’ secondary is pretty stout, almost elite, and over the last few weeks, Juan Thornhill, Tyrann Mathieu, and L’Jarius Sneed have all stepped up in big ways to make the Chiefs’ defense even better. Even Bashaud Breeland has managed to stop his tendency to hold any receiver within ten yards of him, which makes the Chiefs’ defense even harder to drive on.
If the Chiefs (specifically Charvarious Ward, Bashaud Breeland, and L’Jarius Sneed) can lock down the short routes and make Brady throw further than ten yards, the rent should be Mathieu’s for the collecting.
The rivalry between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady is the main storyline going into this Sunday, but a rivalry that is sliding underneath the radar is the Tom Brady-Chris Jones feud. Brady runs his mouth; Chris Jones does not take well to that, and Chris Jones hits Brady harder and harder each snap, which almost always results in a fight between the two.
Chris Jones plays his best against Brady, and the Chiefs need that if they want to win this Sunday. Putting Brady on the ground and making the old man get up over and over and over again is how you beat the Bucs, and the Chiefs have the defensive stars to do it. Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Tershawn Wharton, L’Jarius Sneed, and Tyrann Mathieu have been lethal when blitzing, and that just makes this task easier.
Sure, this step and the previous step may seem contradictory, but in reality, they can tie into each other. They have to start the game with basic blitz packages, bringing in one or two extra players or just scheme up different rushing patterns; then, as Arians and Brady start speeding up the passes and plays, bring in the corner blitz packages, making Brady move into weird pocket positions and throw from an uncomfortable position.
Plus, every single time that Brady has to get back up, he is going to hurt a little more than last time, and as much as he and his fans will try and convince you otherwise, his age is a concern in this department. How many times can Brady realistically get up? It has been 22 weeks since the season started with only two weeks off, something that most young players can barely do. It sounds mean and gross, but it is a reality that the Chiefs need to capitalize on.
(To clarify, I am not condoning any late hits or unnecessary contact. Players should keep things clean and try and keep everyone healthy. All I am saying is that quarterbacks play different when they get knocked around)