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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Will The Bucs Win Super Bowl LV? The National Media Doesn't Think So

Chiefs Buccaneers Super Bowl Football
Tori Richman/AP
Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich chat during NFL football practice, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 in Tampa. The Bucs will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.

The Bucs may be playing in their home stadium, but the consensus is that won't be enough to lift them to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

With Super Bowl LV just two days away, national media outlets and their analysts are releasing their predictions for the winner of Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Bucs and Kansas City Chiefs.

It's not looking good for the Bucs. At least that seems to be the consensus of the national media.

Never mind that it's basically a home game for the Bucs, although the NFL is taking steps to make it as "neutral" as possible. That includes the signature cannon fire inside Raymond James Stadium:

From a purely analytical standpoint, the Chiefs have a higher probability of winning. FiveThirtyEight ran 50,000 simulations of the season and, using the Elo ratings, calculated that the Chiefs have a 53% chance of winning the Super Bowl. In the annual Madden Super Bowl simulation, the Chiefs won as well.

The national media wasn't nearly as confident.

Of the 109 reporters and analysts ESPN polled, 83 predicted a Chiefs win. Eight of nine Yahoo reporters seeing the Chiefs coming out ahead, while 21 of 32 NFL Network analysts give their nod to the Chiefs. And of CBS’s eight football writers, all but one (Jason La Canfora) predicted a Chiefs victory.

However, simulations and predictions can’t account for everything. Nevertheless, here is a sampling from the national media on why the Chiefs — or Bucs — will win.

Who Will Win Super Bowl LV?
WUSF's Julio Ochoa and KCUR's Steve Kraske make their arguments.
Julio Ochoa, left, and Steven Kraske


NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund thinks the Chiefs would win, but not by more than four points.

“Patrick Mahomes and Co. won their first two playoff games by five and 14 points, respectively, but each of their final seven regular-season wins came by six or fewer points. And even though Kansas City jumped out to an early 17-0 lead against the Bucs in Week 12, that game was decided by just three points (27-24). The Bucs have won seven straight since that game, so I expect them to be competitive in this one until the end. My model has the Chiefs winning, but in just 52.2 percent of simulations.”

CBS’s John Breech thinks the Chiefs have the advantage as the away team.

“Although playing at home sounds like an advantage, I'm starting to think it's not going to be an advantage at all. As a matter of fact, if the Buccaneers are smart, they should be on the phone right now trying to get this game moved. Also, if they do get the game moved, they should probably push for it to be played in Kansas City because that's only place where Patrick Mahomes seems to be beatable. The man is basically unstoppable in road games and the Super Bowl qualifies as a road game. Over the course of his career, Mahomes is 21-4 on the road and those four losses weren't even his fault because the Chiefs averaged 38.5 points per game. In the 2020 season alone, the Chiefs went 8-0 on the road and averaged 31.6 points in those games.”

“I think what I'm trying to say here is that the Chiefs are going to score a lot of points and I'm not sure the Buccaneers are going to be able to keep up. The Chiefs have a chance to become the NFL's first repeat champion in 16 years and I think they're going to pull it off.”

Bill Bender, with the Sporting News, picks the Chiefs behind Mahomes, 35-32.

Mahomes returned from a concussion suffered in the AFC divisional playoffs and showed no rust against the Bills with 325 yards and three TDs. It's that combination of wow plays and calm within the system that makes Mahomes the quarterback for the next generation. Brady will make him earn it, but the Chiefs finish off a season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a victory in a thrilling finish. Mahomes earns Super Bowl MVP honors, and Kansas City heads into 2021-22 looking for a three-peat.

Albert Breer is a senior NFL reporter for Sports Illustrated. He predicts a 30-28 win for the Chiefs.

“I think Tom Brady’s going to play well, and the Bucs are going to play well. I think they even may outplay the Chiefs for the majority of this game. But what last year taught me—and not just the Super Bowl, but the playoffs in general—was that Mahomes has the ability to erase things the way Brady did when he was at his peak. He can erase holes created by injury or attrition (see: an AFC title game mostly without both his tackles and Sammy Watkins), he can erase the strengths of other teams and he can erase bad stretches of football. Remember, last year the Niners outplayed the Chiefs for three and a half quarters. And in about eight minutes of game time, Mahomes made that not matter. This is why I wouldn’t bet against Brady over the years. It’s why I won’t bet against Mahomes now.”

ESPN’s NFL Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher predicts a 30-20 Chiefs victory but says that back to back titles are always difficult.

“Oddsmakers have the Chiefs favored to win by at least a field goal Sunday, despite the game being played at the Bucs' home, Raymond James Stadium.

History, though, suggests the Chiefs will lose. The barrier of becoming a repeat champion has been difficult for previous winners to break for myriad reasons -- lack of focus and taking every team's best shot among them -- as coaches such as Pete Carroll and players such as Shannon Sharpe will attest. But if the Chiefs under quarterback Patrick Mahomes truly want to establish a dynasty, back-to-back titles is a good place to start.”

NFL Network's Peter Schrager knows that the Bucs defense is tough, but says he has never seen the Chiefs offensive line collapse.

On an episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Schrager argued that the Chiefs were the stronger team because their offensive line is known for its ability to adapt and that even the Bucs tough defense will be evaded. He says Mahomes throws the ball fast enough and gets out of the pocket easily enough that their injuries won’t prevent a win.

Benjamin Hoffman, of the New York Times, says Mahomes is the difference in a 31-26 win.

Mahomes is in a place in his career where it is almost impossible to doubt him — something that should be familiar for Brady, who was once at the same peak with New England. It is easy to see the Buccaneers having a good day offensively, but even if they were to run up a significant lead, they should never feel safe, as the Chiefs have fallen behind by at least 9 points in four of their last five playoff games — including last year’s Super Bowl — and have won anyway. Mahomes has years of accomplishments ahead of him before his career can accurately be stacked up against Brady’s, but it seems like a safe bet that he will do something on Sunday that no quarterback has done since Brady: win back-to-back Super Bowls.

John Clayton, writing for the Washington Post, says it will be close.

I expect that the game will be high-scoring and exciting, with Brady performing better than he did during the first meeting. Ultimately, though, I think Mahomes and the Chiefs will come away with a close victory and claim their second straight Super Bowl championship. Chiefs 34, Bucs 31


Jeffri Chadiha, of the NFL Network, gives the edge to Brady, 31-30.

The Chiefs will score a lot of points behind Patrick Mahomes , but Tom Brady knows how important managing this game will be for Tampa Bay. The Bucs' pass rush will also capitalize on Kansas City's injury-plagued offensive line.

Conor Orr, a staff writer at Sports Illustrated, thinks that the Bucs can win if they focus on pressuring Mahomes.

“The game hinges on how well Kansas City’s backup tackles can secure the edge and how, if at all, additional protection in the backfield changes what the Chiefs do well offensively. If Tampa Bay did not have two premium edge rushers in Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, plus some chaos-creating interior defensive tackles, I would probably have gone with the Chiefs in a landslide. However, constant pressure on Mahomes, or at least disallowing him from keeping plays going and getting his receivers free, could be a game-changer here.”

Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk/NBC Sports, is staying on the Bucs' bandwagon, 30-27.

Although I can see the Chiefs winning, and winning easily, I can’t abandon the Bucs now. Brady, I believe, will keep it close. Brady, I believe, will make a big throw in a big spot. The defense, I believe, will make a big play in a big moment. The Buccaneers, I believe, will manage to look up at the scoreboard when the game is over and see, through the confetti, that they scored more points than the Buccaneers.

Bill Simmons, sportswriter and founder of The Ringer, thinks that the Chiefs won’t be able to get through Bucs defense.

On an episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons said he changed his initial prediction from the Chiefs to the Bucs after considering the Chiefs offensive line, which lost four players they had at the beginning of the season. He doesn’t think they have the same strength in their offensive line they did last year and doesn’t believe the Chiefs defense can block the Bucs offense. He thinks that the Bucs have more depth in their team's talent than the Chiefs, but admits that Maholmes is the best player in the game.

Elizabeth Kauma is the WUSF social media intern for the spring of 2021.
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