This year’s Super Bowl, which will take place this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., is a clash of the old versus the new. It features an all-time quarterback matchup — 43-year-old Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off against 25-year-old phenom Patrick Mahomes and the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Brady is nearing the end of a legendary career, while Mahomes is just beginning to make his mark, fresh off his first championship win.
Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion as a member of the New England Patriots, is widely considered the greatest player of all time. Following 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady signed with the Bucs this past offseason, looking to surround himself with more talent to make a run at another Super Bowl.
Following a slow start to the season, Brady has developed a strong rapport with his talented receiver corps, led by Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. It is clear that Brady’s struggles towards the end of his tenure in New England were due to the lack of talent around him, not a decline in ability. In his last season with the Patriots, Brady threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 60.8 percent of his passes. This season, Brady improved dramatically in all three categories, throwing for over 4,600 yards and 40 touchdowns, and holding a 65.7 completion percentage.
After the Bucs finished with an 11-5 record this season, the NFC’s fifth seed had to win three games on the road to reach the Super Bowl—and they did just that. Tampa Bay first knocked off the Washington Football Team in D.C., then proceeded to take down the Saints in the Mercedes Benz Superdome after losing twice to them during the regular season. To top it off, they beat MVP-favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in subfreezing temperatures in the NFC Championship Game. The Buccaneers will return home to make history as the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
The Chiefs are coming off their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, after beating the San Francisco 49ers. Astonishingly, Kansas City improved on their title-winning season, finishing 14-2 and earning the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. They faced a firm challenge from the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round, the Chiefs’ first playoff game following their bye. Mahomes suffered a concussion in the third quarter, forcing veteran backup Chad Henne to convert a game-clinching first down with 13 seconds left. In the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, an offensive explosion from reliable playmakers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill carried them to a 38-24 victory.
Despite the old vs. new narrative surrounding the game’s starting quarterbacks, the Super Bowl will likely come down to the two teams’ defenses. If the Chiefs defense front can get pressure on Brady, it will dramatically improve their chances of winning the game. In the playoffs so far, Brady’s completion percentage is 28.6% under duress, and 61.4% when he is protected. If the Chiefs produce pressure, the Bucs will struggle mightily to keep up with the high-powered Chiefs offense. For the Bucs, the key will be making someone other than Kelce and Hill beat them. Those two have given defenses headaches all season with their big-play ability. Limiting their impact will give the Bucs offense a chance to keep pace.
Will the elder statesman capture a mind-blowing seventh title? Or will the young superstar bring Kansas City back to back championships? We will find out this Sunday.