For most of the country, the NFL is a television show. And the Super Bowl promises to be a must-see episode with two of the most fun teams in the league.
When the Chiefs and Buccaneers meet Sunday, it’ll be a big change for Chicago-area viewers used to watching a more plodding, poorly acted program every week. Neither of these teams follows the Bears’ plot of grinding out 17 points and holding on for dear life, then praying that it’s enough.
And as far as main characters, it’d be tough to beat this ensemble cast.
It starts with Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who leads a crew not all that different from that of an actual pirate ship. Tell me you can’t picture swashbuckling Ndamukong Suh making somebody walk the plank and letting out a “yarrrrgh!” under the knowing watch of first mate Tom Brady — an old salt who has plundered his fair share of Lombardi’s legendary silver.
Arians is allergic to coachspeak. He’s notorious for letting it rip.
He once torched an officiating blunder as “FUBAR,” and savagely shredded the Rams — a division rival when he coached the Cardinals — after a win by saying, “I love it when nobody says you have a chance to win. There is an 11-3 team, and a team that is always 8-8. You figure it out.”
He has not mellowed whatsoever. Arians hasn’t hesitated to criticize Brady, especially when his slump was a reason the Bucs slid to 7-5 at the end of November, and there’s little doubt he’ll do it again if needed.
“I don’t think about it — I just answer questions honestly,” Arians said. “I really don’t know any other way.
“He wants to be coached hard . . . He knew what he was getting into when he joined this one.”
The Chiefs are more of a quirky sitcom, but just as compelling. They were in the two highest-rated games of the regular season, by the way.
Their lead, Patrick Mahomes, is one of the most unusual star quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. He throws from more arm angles than Brett Favre and somehow is incredibly elusive despite being a tad on the round side (one of his nicknames in college was “Fatrick”). He can do it all.
No matter how bleak it looks, he’s never out of it and never looks the least bit harried. While third-and-longs for the Bears are little more than preludes to punts, Mahomes just smirks like Jim Halpert. He and the Chiefs overcame double-digit deficits to win by double digits in all three of their playoff games last season, including a rally from 10 down with under 10 minutes to play in the Super Bowl against the 49ers.
The potential for that type of surge must be a blast to watch every week in Kansas City. It’s also a blast to coach.
Andy Reid has had good quarterbacks in his 22 seasons as a head coach, but never one who has fully unlocked his creativity like Mahomes and this incredible cast of skill players. Tight end Travis Kelce might go down as the best pass catcher at his position, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill looks nearly untouchable at a top speed of 22 miles per hour.
With pieces like that, Reid has limitless possibilities and a wide margin for error. It is basically the exact opposite of the Bears’ offense, which needs virtually everything to go perfectly merely to break 20 points.
Reid is well aware of that luxury, too. How else could he have the audacity to call a trick play on fourth-and-one in the Super Bowl last year that called for four players in the backfield to do a last-second spin move and send a direct snap to the running back?
This is the kind of action and quick-wittedness everyone wants in a Super Bowl, and it’s dramatically different from what we normally watch on Sundays.