Everything about the two teams playing on Sunday points to Super Bowl 55 being a high-scoring affair. The Kansas City Chiefs had the NFL’s sixth-highest scoring offense during the regular season, averaging 29.6 points per game. The NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were even more potent on the scoreboard during the season, averaging 30.8 points per game, the third-best mark in the NFL. So it’s little wonder that the point total for this game is set at 56 points.
The matchup that may have the most impact on the point total in this one is Patrick Mahomes, and by extension, his offensive line, versus a Buccaneers pass rush that isn’t getting enough credit. Anchored by Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Devin White, who all have at least eight sacks in the regular season, the Bucs are capable of applying enormous pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Tampa Bay also likes to blitz more than most teams, 29 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s an especially attractive option with the Chiefs' o-line banged up—they lost left tackle Eric Fisher in the AFC Championship and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is on IR with a back injury.
But pressure has rarely been a problem for Mahomes. In fact, he’s thrown 18 touchdown passes while being blitzed, per PFF, and is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when facing pressure. In the playoffs, he’s completing 61 percent of his passes when pressured with 8.4 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, according to Sharp Football Analysis. One part of Mahomes’ secret is how quickly he can get the ball out of his hands.
The Bucs defense gave up the highest percentage of passing touchdowns in the red zone this season, 70 percent, and PFF grades them as the NFL’s worst coverage defense on passing plays 20 yards or more downfield.
Tampa Bay can score too. He’ll be helped by the fact that the Chiefs aren’t good at getting pressure on an opposing quarterback—a time-honored way of beating Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. PFF puts the Chiefs’ pressure rate inside the red zone at just 18 percent, second-worst in the NFL. That said, the Chiefs blitzed a lot in the AFC Championship game, pressuring Josh Allen on nearly 40 percent of his dropbacks. Expect lots of short, quick throws to speedy guys like Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown as well as the tight ends.
The Bucs can also help themselves here with their running game, which not only helps keep Mahomes off the field, it should also keep them out of third-and-long situations.
Ultimately, a total of 56 points is a huge number for a Super Bowl, the third-highest in Super Bowl history it’s still sitting there on Sunday. In all 54 previous Super Bowls, only 11 of them have had a final point total greater than 56 points. The Chiefs didn’t hit the over last year in their Super Bowl win against the 49ers, when both teams were also among the league’s highest-scoring offenses. However, both of these teams are aggressive, seasoned, so the typical slow start we see in most Super Bowls could be irrelevant here. It’s not hard to see both teams come charging out of the gate with their offense, pushing the point total north of 56 for this one.
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