Sunday Night Football will produce a classic; call it a rubber match, if you will. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) are hosting the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) for the third meeting in 25 months, this time as the final regular season matchup between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
The last time the Bucs and Chiefs squared off during the regular season was Week 12 of the 2020 season, with Kansas City getting the edge 27-24. Tampa Bay trailed 14-0 in the first quarter when the Bucs injured plagued secondary surrendered 203 yards and two touchdowns to then-receiver Tyreek Hill, who scored all 3 of Kansas City’s touchdowns. Mahomes threw for 462 yards in the game while only being sacked twice, and his only turnover was a fumble caused by Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett.
Brady threw for 345 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the emergence of the Bucs’ defense during the second half of game that would be the talk of the league, as that would be the final loss the Bucs suffered during that season, as they went on to an 8-game win streak in route to their history-making Super Bowl LV victory.
In what would be the second time that the Bucs and Chiefs would take the field at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs became the only home team to host and win the Super Bowl when they defeated the Chiefs 31-9. Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett once again made Patrick Mahomes’ life a nightmare with 4 hits and a sack, as Mahomes passed for only 270 yards and two interceptions. The Bucs secondary held Tyreek Hill in check while keeping the entire Cheifs offense out of the endzone completely. Antoine Winfield Jr contributed with his iconic pose (cover photo) along with his first career Super Bowl interception.
Brady would throw for 201 yards and three touchdowns as he captured his 7th Super Bowl, earning his 5th Super Bowl MVP. Brady would rely on his best-friend Rob Gronkowski as the tight end scored two touchdowns, while Leonard Fournette scored the only rushing touchdown of the game along with his game-high 89 rush yards.
Brady, who will have a returning Mike Evans but could be without Chris Godwin (hamstring, game-time decision), Breshad Perriman (hamstring/knee, doubtful); while both Julio Jones (knee) and Russell Gage (hamstring) are questionable. The Bucs signed Cole Beasley last week, who debuted with three catches for 12 yards.
The Bucs backfield of Leonard Fournette (9 rec, 54 yards) and Rachaad White (2 rec, 7 yards) is going to have to step up in the passing game. Brady, who has targeted his backfield on 16.5% of his passes, will look to continue but will need production. Kansas City has allowed the most receptions to running backs this season with 28 and is third in the league allowing 170 yards but only one touchdown.
Mahomes, who has completed 78.5% of his passes with 502 yards, and an interception with a rating of 93.0 against zone coverage, will be tested against a Bucs secondary that is the sixth best in the league while in zone defense, winning 78.5% of the matchups. The Bucs’ defense has only allowed three total touchdowns, collecting five interceptions and 11 sacks.
Prediction: Bucs 28-17
Brady vs Mahomes Finale Notes:
Combined Passing Yards: 105,000
Passing Touchdowns: 786
Record (Reg. Season): Brady leads 3-2
Post-season: Brady leads 2-0
League MVP Awards: 4 (Brady-3, Mahomes-1)
Super Bowl MVP: 6 (Brady-4, Mahomes-1)