Chiefs vs. Buccaneers: What to Watch 4
A banged-up Chiefs offensive line has been resilient all season. But without starting tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, it will be challenged by a Bucs front that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times.
Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul is still going strong at 32 — after a 2015 fireworks accident that led to the amputation of his left index finger and part of his middle finger and thumb, and a 2019 car accident. He had 9 1/2 sacks this season and two against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Pierre-Paul heads a red-hot defensive front —including tackle Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett — that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times in the victory over the Packers. With nose tackle Vita Via in his second game back from a broken leg he suffered against the Bears in Week 5, the Bucs defensive line figures to be even stronger.
Chiefs expected tackles Mike Remmers and Andrew Wylie will be on the spot. Remmers is a journeyman who replaced injured right tackle Mitchell Schwartz in Week 7. Wylie is a 2017 undrafted free agent who started 14 games at right guard but is expected to start at right tackle — with Remmers moving to left tackle — after starting left tackle Eric Fisher suffered an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship Game.
The Chiefs under line coach Andy Heck have been good at working through injuries. But so were the Packers until the Buccaneers front exposed the absence of All-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari in the NFC Championship Game.
The Buccaneers are 7-0 since their bye week after a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 29. Quarterback Tom Brady has a 110.8 passer rating in those seven games — 19 touchdown passes, four interceptions. Brady, though, has gutted it out in the playoffs — completing 55, 55 and 56 percent of his passes in three games and throwing three interceptions against the Packers.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is the ultimate home run threat. He had 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns (75, 44 and 20) against the Buccaneers in Week 12 — including eight catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, as the Chiefs took a 20-7 lead.
Hill has come up big in the playoffs. He had eight receptions for 110 yards against the Browns in the divisional round, and nine receptions for 172 yards against the Bills in the AFC Championship Game.
With the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the Buccaneers are the first team to play the Super Bowl on their home field. The restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic will limit attendance to 22,000, but the Bucs still figure to have some sort of home-field advantage.
If anything, the Buccaneers did not have to travel after returning from Green Bay following the NFC Championship Game. The Chiefs, per an NFL mandate, also spent Super Bowl week at home, practicing in Kansas City before flying to Tampa on Saturday. Both teams are used to unorthodox schedules and game environments, but this will be a Super Bowl unlike any in recent years.