The last time the Chiefs offense and Buccaneers defense met, Tyreek Hill was an unstoppable force and the Buccaneers defense had no answer for Patrick Mahomes. This isn’t November. The Buccaneers have not lost a game since that week 12 match-up. This is a different game and will call for a different game plan.
In week 12, the Buccaneers defense played in a single high safety formation for the majority of the game. This game plan was something the Chiefs offense took advantage of using Tyreek Hill’s speed. The offense repeatedly called deep passes outside the numbers making it impossible for the safety to provide help in time. Hill racked up ten catches, 245 yards, and three touchdowns on passes outside the numbers.
The Buccaneers blitzed 39.5% of the time this season but against the Chiefs, they dropped to 17.6%. A big reason for this drop is Mahomes went six for nine and threw two touchdowns against the blitz. The Chiefs offense has to continue to excel against the blitz and make the Buccaneers hesitate.
This defensive game plan failed for the Buccaneers and allowed Kansas City to move the ball at ease. Expect the Buccaneers to roll out a different game plan that will try to account for the offense’s speed while also taking advantage of recent injuries to the Chiefs.
Stopping the Pass Rush
The Chiefs offense lost starting left tackle Eric Fisher after he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the AFC Championship game. Kansas City hasn’t officially announced what offensive line combo they will use in the Super Bowl but whoever starts at left tackle will have their hands full with Jason Pierre-Paul. Against the Packers in the NFC Championship game, Pierre-Paul faced a backup left tackle and had four pressures and two sacks. On the other side of the line is Shaquil Barrett who had three sacks in the NFC Championship game.
The Chiefs offensive line is one of the biggest weaknesses of the entire team. Stopping a defense that recorded the fourth-most sacks with 48 will be the biggest key for the offense to score points.
Chiefs Run Game
The Buccaneers run defense is the best in the NFL. On average, they allowed 80.6 rush yards per game which is nearly ten fewer yards than the next closest defense. On the flip side, the Chiefs average 112.4 rushing yards per game which put them in the middle at 16th.
The run game will mostly be a non-factor for the Chiefs. They are pass led team. The key for the run game will be to slow down the Buccaneer’s pass rush. Make the edge defenders slow down and think twice before just barreling full steam at Mahomes. Again, the key to the offense will be stopping the Buccaneers pass rush and the run game will have to help with that.
The dominance of the Chiefs comes from the passing offense. The speed of Hill, Travis Kelce, and Mecole Hardman is a nightmare for any defense to face, let alone the Buccaneer’s 21st ranked pass defense. Patrick Mahomes has led the Chiefs to 30 points ten times this season while throwing 38 touchdowns to six interceptions and leading the NFL in passing yards per game at 316.
The Buccaneers have a potential answer for Travis Kelce. Lavonte David and Devin White form one of the best linebacking duos in all the NFL. They will be given the monumental task of slowing down Kelce. Kelce against this linebacking duo will be the second biggest key for the Chiefs offense.
Chiefs Offense vs Buccaneers Defense
As a unit, the Chiefs had the sixth-most points per game and the most yards per game. On 3rd down, the biggest down in football, the Chiefs had the third-highest conversion rate. The Buccaneers defense gave up the eighth fewest points per game, sixth-fewest yards per game, and had the fifth-most turnovers. The Buccaneers thrive on forcing turnovers but in nearly 600 passing attempts this season, Mahomes has only thrown six interceptions.
This game will come down to the Chiefs offense vs the Buccaneers pass rush. For the Chiefs to score they must handle the pass rush. Mahomes needs to have time in the pocket to sling it against a mediocre pass defense. When the pressure gets to Mahomes, he needs to continue to make plays outside the numbers but he also has to be smart and not force passes against a unit that has made big turnovers all season.
There is no stopping the Chiefs offense. This unit is going to score points at a quick pace. The key for them though will be limiting the elite pass rush of the Buccaneers. If the Buccaneers can disrupt the passing game enough to get the offense out of sync, the Chiefs offense could be slowed enough. If the Chiefs offense can slow the Buccaneers pass rush, the offense will be able to make the big plays they’re accustomed to and put up a lot of points.
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