Retired New York Giants star Osi Umenyiora joined Rich Salgado on Big Daddy & Friends recently to provide insightful Super Bowl LV analysis ahead of Sunday’s clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.
While he acknowledged how dangerous Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense is, Umenyiora told Sportsnaut why he thinks Sunday’s epic showdown will be closer than many believe.
Osi Umenyiora: Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line injuries loom large
Much is being made of the quarterback matchup between Mahomes and Tom Brady, and considering Umenyiora once beat TB12 in a Super Bowl, he knows firsthand the importance of a strong pass rush and how that can flip the outcome of a game.
In short, the Buccaneers’ defensive front has the means to capitalize on injuries to Kansas City offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz.
“They face a defensive line of Tampa Bay…and they’re ferocious,” Umenyiora said. “JPP, Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea — these guys look good across the front, and they’re going to be able to rush the passer.”
Once upon a time, Umenyiora was part of a Giants front that logged nine quarterback hits and five sacks against Brady in a 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Umenyiora also explained how the impact of Fisher and Schwartz being out trickles down to the rest of the offense. Tight end Travis Kelce, who’s a matchup nightmare due to his pass-catching ability, will have to stay in and help protect against the Bucs’ edge rushers, for instance.
Schwartz appeared in only six games during the 2020 campaign, so at least Kansas City is used to dealing with his absence. On the other side, Fisher just went down in the AFC Championship Game with a torn Achilles, which is going to force the team to adjust its typical game plan.
Although the Chiefs are deserving favorites as reigning champions, Umenyiora is a big believer in Tampa Bay’s front making a huge impact that’ll make the outcome really tight.
“I’m not really sure who’s going to win the game,” Umenyiora said. “People thinking Kansas City are just going to run away with this, I think they’re going to be in for a big shock.”
It really is a testament to how great the Chiefs have been that a six-time Super Bowl winner in Brady is a clear underdog. However, Sunday’s outcome may be more about how well each defense executes — and whether Kansas City can hold up in the trenches to protect Mahomes against a ferocious Bucs pass rush.
Tampa Bay had seven QB hits and two sacks of Mahomes in Week 12’s 27-24 loss to Kansas City. That was with Fisher starting and Vea out of action due to injury.
Perhaps Umenyiora is on to something.