The time for talking is almost done before Sunday’s kickoff. The Kansas City Chiefs are set to travel to Tampa Bay for a date with the Buccaneers. Obviously, the winner of Sunday Night Football goes to 3-1. Whereas with the loser, they will sit at .500 at 2-2. Both teams are coming off of frustrating, tight losses.
We have discussed key matchups and gameplans all week long. What are the final headlines to watch for before Sunday’s kickoff? We will list those, along with players to watch for, who could be viewed as under the radar x factors entering the game from both the Chiefs and the Buccaneers. Let’s kick it off.
Mahomes Vs Brady: Part Six
This will be the sixth iteration of Patrick Mahomes facing off against Tom Brady. Brady is 3-2 against Mahomes head-to-head. Of course, Brady and the Buccaneers won the most recent matchup over Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. Could this be the final time we see these dominant passers square off?
Interestingly, both quarterbacks are looking for bounce back performances. Both Mahomes and Brady are coming off their first loss of the season. Neither offense capitalized on tremendous opportunities. Mahomes and Brady just did not seem to find consistent rhythm last week. With the competitive nature of these two, it could be a turning point for each offense if these two get back on track.
Bringing The Heat
On the other side of the quarterbacks, you have two distinct pass rushes. Kansas City has enjoyed their hottest start in a while, as far as getting sacks and creating pressure goes. Their 10 sacks in three games are only 21 less than what they finished with last year in 17 games. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are just ahead of the Chiefs, with 11 sacks in three games. They have continually been a dominant pass rush.
With Todd Bowles, he is exotic and willing to bring everyone as a blitzer at some point. Tampa Bay’s mix of physicality and speed is something that Kansas City was hoping to add themselves this offseason. We have seen the emergence of that quickness and tenacity as the weeks pass by. Can Steve Spagnuolo time up his pressure better than Bowles and keep this game low scoring?
Who Has More Depth?
There is no question that both the Chiefs and the Buccaneers are well built teams. However, each team lost veterans from last season. The youthful players are taking up a lot more snaps, especially for Kansas City. But with Tampa Bay, their injuries have been a major headline since the start of the season, and really since during training camp.
Going into Sunday, it appears that the Chiefs could have kicker Harrison Butker back. He has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. He appears to be a game-time decision. That also appears to be the case for three players on the Buccaneers. Particularly, this is all for offensive players for Tampa Bay, with Julio Jones, Chris Godwin and Donovan Smith.
Whichever team can benefit more from depth players stepping up and making the correct reads could be the difference in the game. On the flip side, the Chiefs and the Buccaneers are battling the momentum highs and lows of the start of the season. Will a fresh face make their presence felt in a crucial moment?
Chiefs DE George Karlaftis
George Karlaftis has already displayed his amazing motor and relentlessness. With his ability to collapse the pocket and reduce rush angles, he has the closing speed needed to potentially limit some of Brady’s elite pocket mobility. Karlaftis is still looking for his first career sack. Can he do it Sunday?
Buccaneers DB Logan Ryan
Logan Ryan is the defensive back that can be a stabilizer. Beyond the name recognition of other Buccaneers defensive backs, he is someone who can add physicality at the catch point. Ryan is not the fastest or most smooth when moving laterally. Yet, the Chiefs have struggled to separate down the field. Ryan’s ability to trigger and flash into tight areas could be major for Tampa Bay’s back seven when Kansas City gets into good field position.
Chiefs DT Derrick Nnadi
We do not touch on Derrick Nnadi much. However, his run defense on early downs could come in handy many times this week. Tampa Bay has been insistent on running to set up the pass, for whatever reason. Nnadi does a good job of plugging gaps and pushing offensive linemen onto their back foot. Watch for Nnadi to add some power against the Buccaneers running game.
Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate
As we have seen the last two weeks, the Chiefs have struggled a bit to contain tight ends. It is not from a pure volume perspective. But rather, security blanket throws and intermediate attempts have been left wide open. The Colts had two touchdowns to their tight end last week. Cameron Brate could be someone who sees increased targets against Kansas City. Finally, the Chiefs will have to deal with the absence of Willie Gay once again.
Be on the lookout for our FPC Chiefs recap articles and analysis following Sunday’s game. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.