By Rodrigo Verney, February 6 2021—
In February, sports fans from all over the globe turn their eyes to the biggest event in football — one night when two teams get to battle for a chance to cement their names among the champions of the National Football League (NFL).
It’s one night to justify all the sweat, pain and struggles that brought them to the biggest stage in the NFL, one night to set the eyes of every football fan on a single 100-yard-field, one night to push themselves to the limit against the best team in the world. All their sacrifices lead to a shot to snatch the Lombardi trophy and earn a spot among the greatest players to ever set foot on the field, a field where Nick Foles proved to be as great as the moment demanded and where Eli Manning showed that a calm mind can see through the densest fog. On Feb. 7, the SuperBowl will be played.
The game will be held at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and it will be its 55th edition. The event will be a match between defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs, led by their ever-ascending prodigy, Patrick Mahomes, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, guided by one of the best in the game, Tom Brady. The Buccaneers get to be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, despite the only 22,000 attendees — a record-setting low due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, the league made the best out of the pandemic situation by giving an opportunity for sports fans to order cardboard cutouts of themselves to fill the stands. Not only that, the league also reserved roughly 34 per cent of in-person attendee tickets for vaccinated health-care workers.
This 55th edition will bring forward a clash of titans, as the current champions look for a repeat over the rising threat of Brady and his crew. In order to understand the size of this battle, we have to understand the story behind these two teams, starting with the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
It is common sense to expect the best team from last year to reach the finals. What separates this squad from the rest has to be rising star Patrick Mahomes. In his third season in the league, he has gone to the SuperBowl for half of his career now as the starting quarterback for Kansas. This unmatched record goes to show how Mahomes has changed the game with his expert passing skills and quick reflexes. Mahomes and one of his wide receivers, Tyreek Hill, combined for a threat no team was able to hold this season, as they gathered 14 wins in 16 games in the regular season. These giants can become the first repeat champions since the New England Patriots (2003-2004). Which brings us to the contenders.
Tom Brady has been a household name ever since his early days in the NFL. He is the league’s all time leader in playoff wins, touchdown passes and passing yards. Once being called an “okay leader” in a soft conference by the community, Brady packed his bags — alongside tight end Rob Gronkowski — and is now headed to his 10th Super Bowl appearance as the number one contender in a new conference. Brady is determined to show the world that he is worthy of his G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) status and that he remains unmatched, even if some new claims present the Buccaneers as less of a defensive threat as expected, only ranking them eighth in an article published on the NFL’s official site.
Mahomes is a force to be reckoned with. Even as they are set to go against one of the best teams in the world, led by one of the best players ever, the Chiefs are on the same level playing field as far as odds go. These two teams have a history of changing the game in the last quarter. To match Brady and Mahomes fairly, we have to understand how they operate as quarterbacks.
Brady is very experienced in clutch situations. Even if Mahomes is going to the SuperBowl for the second time, Brady has been in the postseason so many times that the atmosphere and the nerves of the finals is unlikely to phase him as much. Lack of nerves gives him a steady hand and eye to study a play’s best chances. That combined with his offensive line — ranked 5th in the league — gives Brady all kinds of time to make a play. One factor that contributes to Brady’s seemingly unending time to think in the pocket is that he’s usually passing to a long time friend that is part of his roster. Rob Gronkowski is a crucial piece to both scoring and blocking. The Buccaneers tight end has had a few rings in his fingers from his Patriots days. The chemistry between the two makes them a dangerous combination for the Chief’s defence.
Mahomes is a prodigy. The kid from Texas caused a stir in the football world by signing the second-biggest deal in sports history when he won it all last year. Mahomes is known for his quick reflexes and brilliant play-making vision. He is also surrounded by great players both offensively and defensively, backed by the second highest ranking kicker in the league. The depth will be a considerable factor in this squad, not to mention that Mahomes has a few tricks up his sleeves. With the help of Tyreek Hill — who had an amazing season — Mahomes becomes a walking triple threat who is able to perfectly pass, design perfect running plays and even run the ball himself.
With the two leaders fully assessed, what a win would mean for each team?
Brady would achieve an unbelievable milestone with a win in this SuperBowl, silencing any critics about his G.O.A.T. status. Mahomes, on the other hand, would shake up the sports world, solidifying his place among the greatest players ever. It would be an impressive achievement at such a young age to defeat the best quarterback in the league and win the trophy at the same time.
Regardless, this is set to be unforgettable. Every sports fan knows that, once the game clock starts it’s anybody’s game. That’s the magic of the biggest stage in football — it’s one night where one moment can change everything forever.