NFL's best offense faces its hottest big play defense in Super Bowl LV
It's the GOAT, Tom Brady, vs. the heir apparent, Patrick Mahomes.
They will not be on the field at the same time and whoever gains the edge in their performances won't necessarily dictate the outcome of the game.
These two met 10 weeks ago in the same stadium with the Chiefs prevailing 27-24, but the game was not close.
The Chiefs were up 27-10 going into the fourth quarter before the Bucs added a touchdown two minutes into the fourth and another with four minutes to play, but never got the ball back again.
They combined for 960 yards of offense, including 543 from the Chiefs. Mahomes threw for 462 yards, and Brady 345. Tyreek Hill hauled in 13 catches for 269 yards and three TDs. Rob Gronkowski led the Bucs with six catches for 106 yards. Both teams ran the ball well -- Kansas City had 20 carries at a 4.4 average, the Bucs had 13 carries for 5.8 yards per attempt -- and Brady threw two third-quarter picks, while Mahomes lost one fumble.
It was ugly a good part of the time as the Chiefs committed 10 penalties for 82 yards, and the Bucs eight for 57 yards.
Matchups to watch
Bucs RG Aaron Stinnie vs. DT Chris Jones; Chiefs RT Andrew Wylie vs. DT Ndamukong Suh; Chiefs LT Mike Remmers vs. OLB Shaquil Barrett
Interior pressure on both Mahomes and Brady with edge rushers sealing the outside, forcing the All Pro QBs to throw in traffic all day, could dictate the outcome of the game.
Stinnie is the weak link on the Bucs line, and Jones, although coming off a relatively quiet season, is the Chiefs second best defensive player after Tyrann Mathieu. With Frank Clark, the Chiefs only other dangerous pass rusher, look for the Bucs to give Stinnie help.
Suh is one of the best big-game players in the league, and at 34, his second crack at a ring could very well be his last and he knows it.
Wylie is actually the starting right guard forced to slide out to tackle with regular starter Mike Remmers flipping over to the left side due to the Eric Fischer injury.
Remmers is average at best on the right side, and in Shaq Barrett he'll see one of the game's best pass rushers the last two seasons. Barrett has been red hot in the playoffs.
Coaching decision to watch
What is Tampa Bay's plan for WR Tyreek Hill?
Hill is one of the most dangerous players in the game, and in the last meeting he rendered cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Ross Cockrell helpless. The status of safeties Antonine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead is uncertain due to ankle and shoulder injuries, so even if they go, their ability to help could be minimized. What is Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to do?
Players to watch
Tampa Bay RB Leonard Fournette and LB Devin White; Kansas City WRs Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman and CB L'Jarius Sneed
Brady, Evans, Gronk, Mahomes, Hill, Travis Kelce and Mathieu are too obvious.
Fournette has really come on in recent weeks and appears to have supplanted Ronald Jones as the No. 1 back for the Bucs, and Devin White is a game-changing play waiting to happen.
With Sammy Watkins' status uncertain, either Hardman or Robinson becomes Mahomes' third option after Hill and Kelce, and how Sneed stacks up against Evans and fellow wide receiver Chris Godwin could be key.
Darrel Williams didn't play against the Bucs last time and is the Chiefs No. 3 back, but with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le'Veon Bell nicked, Williams has been the horse in the playoffs.
But if all three are sound and available, Andy Reid could show the Bucs a totally different attack than they saw 10 weeks ago.
Players who could surprise
Chiefs S Daniel Sorenson and Bucs TE Cameron Brate
Sorenson is not the best known Chief but he's been a silent assassin this season alongside Mathieu. He leads the team in tackles and has three picks, one returned for a touchdown. He will be a key in the run defense and vs. Gronk.
Brate is battling a back injury and was just added to the injury report Thursday but he's been on fire in the playoffs with 11 catches for 149 yards and a score. He is a dangerous red-zone threat.
The final word
Bucs 30, Chiefs 27
There's really no right answer here as either of these teams is capable of winning and either is capable of dominating the other, but almost no one dominates the Chiefs offense, and the Bucs defense can dictate tempo vs. anyone.
In the end I'm just going with my gut and I love the way the Bucs have been playing and come into this game. We know how near impossible it is to win two in a row and I will never, ever bet against the reigning GOAT, especially in the Super Bowl.
• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush