Lockdowns and Touchdowns – Predictions for Super Bowl LV
With two conference finals due to play out this weekend to decide this season’s Super Bowl, excitement is high. Calum Muldoon dissects both finals and makes his predictions of who makes the Super Bowl, going on to predict who will lift the Championship in two weeks’ time.
The US has faced one of its toughest years since the country was established nearly 250 years ago. While struggling with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also been involved in one of the most vicious elections in political history. It is safe to say that 2020 was a tumultuous year for the American population. However, while these historical events have changed the fate of the nation forever, one thing has continued: sport. In fact, one of the biggest American sporting events is fast approaching and that is Super Bowl LV.
Even with a reduced crowd of 22,000 fans at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on the 7th of February, millions will tune in to watch the two best teams of the season clash for one of sport’s most illustrious prizes. Last year, 102 million people across the nation tuned in to watch the big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, in which star quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs offence in a dominant second half to ensure the Vince Lombardi Trophy would be returning to Kansas. This year, in severely different circumstances, only four teams remain. This Sunday, it will be whittled down to two as both the National Football Conference and American Football Conference draw to a close. But who will be facing off in Super Bowl LV? Could there be an upset on the cards? Or will the Chiefs become the eight franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Here is what could go down in two weeks’ time.
NFC Final: Green Bay Packers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This matchup forces two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to go head-to-head. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady have shown that being older than 35 does not slow them down. Ever since Brady left the New England Patriots at the end of last season to join Tampa, he has shaped a once mediocre football team into championship contenders.
Rodgers has taken the role of leader in his stride this season and has completed a whopping 48 touchdown passes since the Packers’ opening game in September. In fact, “A-Rod” is ranked the third best passer in NFL history after 15 years of playing for the Packers. While their running game could be shut down by the dominant Tampa defence, if Rodgers can throw passes into the expecting arms of receiver Davante Adams, the Packers could clinch the victory.
Overall, this should be a tight game between two vastly different sides. The Packers lead the league in points per game and the Buccaneers are first in run defence. In this case, it could be argued that the Packers will be able to steal the win out from under the noses of the hungry underdogs that the Buccaneers have proven themselves to be this season. While it will probably be a quiet and frustrating game for Green Bay running back Aaron Jones, since Tampa have proven to be exceptional at shutting down runs, it could be a small price to pay to lift that NFC championship trophy and to start eying up the ultimate prize.
AFC Final: Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills
This season, the Buffalo Bills have proven to the world that their franchise is not dead yet. This being their best season in over 25 years, the Bills have lit the AFC up in style with their vicious and effective attacking phases. Bills quarterback Josh Allen has proven himself to be the future of the NFL, leading his team to be the second-best offensive team in the league. Being a serious contender for the MVP award, the 24-year-old will have everything to play for this Sunday when they take on the only team who have played better than them offensively this season. Their running game has also been exceptional this season, with running back Stefon Diggs shining as he continually breaks past opposition defences, with an Allen handover a consistent presence. It is clear that the Bills will pose an enormous threat to the Chiefs defence, who should not take their opponents’ inexperience of competing for honours for granted.
As for the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs have proven themselves to be one of the most exceptional teams of the 21st century. Although their rise to glory has occurred in such a short space of time, the franchise are eager to continue their time at the top and as favourites for this season’s top prize, as was shown during the regular season, when the Chiefs only lost on two occasions. The Chiefs boast the face of the NFL on their roster, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes becoming a household name following his Super Bowl LIV performance last season. Mahomes is the latest QB to achieve superstardom in the NFL and at the age of 25, he has plenty of years left in his career to wright his name into the history books. Mahomes aside, the Chiefs defence is a force to behold, thanks in no small part to the impeccable ball handling skills of safety Tyrann Mathieu. This season has proved just how ruthless this Chiefs team can be and the reigning champions will not let anything get in their way in their quest to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Kansas for the second straight year.
While the Bills’ resurgence has been impressive, it might be safe to say that their unexpected run will draw to a close this Sunday, with the Chiefs halting the boys from Buffalo in their tracks. However, it won’t be a walk in the park for the Chiefs. Mahomes suffered a concussion in the Chiefs’ last match against the Cleveland Browns and while he is slowly recovering, there is no guarantee that he will be ready for action on Sunday. Furthermore, Kansas may also be without running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, the Bills are going to be without one of their stars of the season in Stefon Diggs, meaning that they will struggle to play a competent running game to outplay the Kansas defence – in which case, a victory for the Chiefs looks more than likely.
Super Bowl LV: Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers
While the Packers may have to resort to relying on Aaron Jones more than they would in the NFC final, the Chiefs will be more than able to handle the pressure they would be facing from the Packers’ runs. Aaron Rodgers would not be able to provide as many long balls as he would like because of the defensive might of the Chiefs and if Mahomes is back in time for the big game, Green Bay’s defence could be in deep trouble thanks to the 25-year-old’s powerful arm, meaning that I see the Chiefs securing their place as the 8th team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls and solidifying themselves as one of the greatest teams in modern history.
While this matchup is not guaranteed in the slightest at this point, it would provide the fans at home a good distraction from the chaos around them. As the world tries to rebuild their economy and society in the wake of the worst virus outbreak in a century, two incredible attacking teams can relieve the stress and whisk them away to a world where only football matters. Two of the best quarterbacks in the world would face off in the biggest sporting showdown of this pandemic and it will be just what fans need. For just one day, this match will be the most important thing happening in the US.