History will be made Sunday night when Tampa Bay becomes the first team in NFL history to play as the host team in a Super Bowl. The Buccaneers picked up a road win in Green Bay to win the NFC Championship. They will be facing a Kansas City team that appeared to be bored for the second half of the regular season, but it has flipped the proverbial switch in the playoffs. The Chiefs picked up a narrow road win in Tampa Bay in Week 12.
Chiefs hoping for healthy Mahomes, WatkinsKansas City finished with the top seed in the AFC, finishing the regular season 14-2. It went nine games in a row without covering the spread, including a divisional-round win over Cleveland in the playoffs. The Chiefs were concerned that they could be without their star quarterback in the AFC Championship, but Patrick Mahomes cleared concussion protocol several days before the game. He was also dealing with a turf toe heading into that contest, but it did not stop him from throwing for 325 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Bills in the AFC title game. He completed all 11 of his play-action passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Mahomes will be facing a Tampa Bay defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times two weeks ago. His mobility is going to be important, so the extra rest should help with his toe injury. Kansas City is down two starting offensive linemen on Sunday, as Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher hurt his Achilles against the Bills and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been out since Week 11. The NFL’s top offense is expected to get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back from an injury. He missed the previous two playoff games with a calf problem, but he is feeling “optimistic” about his chances to play in the Super Bowl. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill gashed the Bucs for 269 yards and three touchdowns earlier this season. He has been the top target in both postseason games.
Bucs set to host Super BowlTampa Bay was unable to win the NFC South this season due to a rough stretch in the middle of the year, so the Bucs were forced to go on the road in their playoff opener. They got past Washington with an eight-point win before beating New Orleans and Green Bay the following weeks. Their offense has been on a tear since the aforementioned rough patch, scoring at least 30 points in six straight games. Veteran quarterback Tom Brady is appearing in a record-setting tenth Super Bowl. He threw three touchdown passes against the Packers, marking the tenth consecutive game he has thrown at least two touchdowns. The defense recorded an interception and a fumble recovery in the win.
The Buccaneers will be facing a Kansas City defense that was average for most of the season, but it has turned it on down the stretch. Outside of a loss to the Chargers where multiple starters were resting, the Chiefs have held seven consecutive opponents under 30 points—averaging 18.3 points allowed in the last three. This will be a tough task, though, as Brady has proven time and time again. He has one of the top wide receiver groups in the NFL at his disposal and could be getting wide receiver Antonio Brown back from a knee injury. Brown had caught five touchdowns across a four-game span before getting injured against the Saints. Running back Leonard Fournette has rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the three playoff games. Chris Godwin has been Brady’s top target, catching 14 passes for 223 yards.
Kansas City is:
- 4-1 ATS in its last five playoff games as a favorite
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games following a ATS win
- 11-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record