KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs are down to their final date on the Run it back tour.
The Chiefs have the chance to become the eighth team in NFL history to win back to back titles on Sunday.
Only four quarterbacks in NFL history have made it to the Super Bowl twice in their first four seasons: Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and now Patrick Mahomes. Only Brady succeeded in hoisting the title to this point, the other two played Tom Brady. Mahomes will get his shot on Sunday to change the trend.
There are many opportunities to change perceptions on Sunday and create a new line of history, here are the key points to make that happen for Kansas City.
1. Hit Brady and collapse the interior
Tom Brady needs to step up in the pocket to get enough velocity on his throws. When a team collapses the pocket in on him and takes that away it destroys a part of his game. He isn't an elusive quarterback, so the chance to hit and force a turnover goes up significantly. Steven Spagnuolo relentlessly attacked Brady in their previous Super Bowl encounter and sped up his release with the football. He rushed many throws and had plenty of inaccurate passes because of it.
Brady is about 14 years older now since that last meeting, but the rules remain the same. You hit him and he will get rid of the ball quickly. If they bring blitzes off the edge or through the interior of the pocket he will rush his mechanics. If the Chiefs can disguise their coverage and blitzes he will let you deliver a big hit and then start seeing ghost.
2. Motion Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce
Patrick Mahomes should be able to find a lot of pre-snap information by moving these two receivers around in the formation. The Buccaneers will likely want to dedicate two defenders to Hill and Kelce at various times throughout the game. That will allow Mahomes to find the best options with Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and the running backs receiving one-on-one matchups or even blown coverages. In their last matchup, the Buccaneers dedicated five defenders to Hill and Kelce when aligned on the same side of the field. Kansas City can use this to their advantage to create a lot of space for their other receivers.
3. Wreck them with the trips
Tampa Bay didn't do well against the Chiefs' formation last time. It led to massive voids in their coverages and made them thin over top in the ground they were forced to cover against the Chiefs' speed. Kansas City can manipulate a lot of ideal matchups from this formation, especially if they rotate Hill and Kelce in their variations of the trips formation with the other guy on the opposite side of it.
4. Take the edge and quick-hit them
The Chiefs can find success running the ball on the edges. The interior might be closed early on. Kansas City will have to work at getting the rushers upfield early and wearing them down before they can hit them with draws, traps and counters. The edge will be open in various ways off the RPO looks and jet sweeps. The Chiefs had some success with the option in their previous matchup but that might be off the table. Swing passes in the flats can also help them get the edge. This is also a spot where the Chiefs can use their bunch and two tight end set formations to seal off the edge.
5. Misdirect them
The Buccaneers defense has speed at the linebacker and safety positions and they like to get to the ball quickly. Kansas City will have some opportunities to run some screens, reverses, cutbacks and other motions to get the defense to flow the opposite way in their pursuit. The Chiefs will need to use this early to put some doubt in the Buccaneers' mind and keep their defense honest.
6. Get the ball out quick, move the pocket and chip
If the Chiefs offensive line has some hiccups in pass protection, they will need to have route combinations that allow Mahomes to get the ball out in under 2.5 seconds to tire the rush out and stay on schedule. Kansas City blended in some sprint out looks into their previous matchup and they made need to add it in at times to keep the Buccaneers rushers from getting in rhythm with Mahomes drop. Lastly, the Chiefs will need to use their backs out of the backfield, tight ends and maybe even receivers to help chip or double team on the edges especially if Mahomes needs time for the home run throws.
Kansas City has the better team on paper. They also have the right blend of experience for a moment with this amount of pressure. The key will come down to their execution being better than Tom Brady, the offensive line keeping Mahomes upright and how effectively they are able to bring pressure.
If Kansas City can hit on all three of those focal points they will be hoisting a second Lombardi within a year and complete the Reid-peat in proper style.