Tom Brady will be trying to earn more than just his seventh Lombardi Trophy when he leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium: He’ll be trying to become his own dynasty.
At 43, Brady is one victory away from proving his ability to win titles isn’t tied to a single franchise or a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach. He’s a win from proving he’s strong enough to go anywhere and emerge triumphant.
After all, he has already proven he can lead fourth-quarter comebacks on the game’s grandest stage, and showed that being down by 25 points late in the third quarter of a Super Bowl means next to nothing.
Brady has turned Tampa — a professional football wasteland for decades — into the undisputed sports capital of the U.S. today. The city in western Florida is home to the reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning and the American League champion Rays, and is a win away from filling the streets of Ybor City with confetti.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers make NFL history for Super Bowl LV
Tampa Bay is hosting the Super Bowl, the first one where a team will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy on its own home field.
Brady turned New England, which had never won a Super Bowl, from a mediocre franchise when he arrived in 2000 into a six-time champion worth $4.4 billion, second in the NFL behind the Cowboys, when he left, according to Forbes.
Now, he has taken a Buccaneers franchise that had gone 267-424-1 for a .387 winning percentage — the worst among North American pro sports teams — in the 44 seasons before he arrived to just their second Super Bowl and first since winning it in 2003. Since then, the Buccaneers didn’t win a playoff game — until their savior arrived.
Speaking after Sunday’s NFC title game, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians referred to the “belief (Brady) gave everybody in this organization that it could be done. It only took one man.”
But standing in Tampa Bay’s way is a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl more recently than Brady — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s looking to become the first quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles since you-know-who did it with the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2004 and 2005.
“We just have to be ourselves,” Mahomes said after beating Buffalo. “I trust my guys over everybody.”
The Super Bowl odds opened with Kansas City as a 3.5-point favorite and an over/under of 57.5 points at FanDuel, which has set money lines for Kansas City at -186 and Tampa at +145.
Between now and kickoff, expect a blitz of storylines and statistics to sift through before deciding where to focus your wagers.
Here are two things you need to know.
Tom Brady, Tyreek Hill and keys to Super Bowl LV
Any list of potential history-makers at Super Bowl LV must have Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill near the top, so take a close look at his over/under for receptions and yards for prop bets.
Hill will take the field at Raymond James Stadium seeking to become just the ninth receiver in league history to be named to The Associated Press’ All-Pro First Team and win the Super Bowl in the same season. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison in 2006.
Of the eight players who have done it, five — Jerry Rice (1988, 1989, 1994), John Stallworth (1979), Lynn Swann (1978), Paul Warfield (1973) and Harrison — are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Gary Clark (1987), Drew Pearson (1977) and Cliff Branch (1976) had very, very good careers.
Tampa Bay gave up 346 passing yards to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in its win in the NFC title game.
Hill torched Tampa Bay for 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns on 15 targets in the teams’ regular-season meeting less than two months ago.
Hill made seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, joining Qadry Ismail (210 in the third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and Lee Evans (205 in the first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006) as the only NFL receivers since 1980 to have 200 receiving yards in a quarter.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tom Brady
What does Kansas City’s 27-24 win at Tampa Bay in late November really mean as it relates to Super Bowl LV? Everything? Or nothing?
On four occasions, the eventual AFC and NFC champions met during the regular season.
In 1990, the Bills beat the Giants, 17-13, in Week 15, but then Scott Norwood happened in Super Bowl XXV.
In 1993, the Bills went to Dallas and won, 13-10, in Week 2, only to see the Cowboys crush Buffalo in the Super Bowl for the second straight season, 30-13.
And then there’s the Brady factor, of course.
In 2007, his undefeated Patriots beat the Giants, 38-35, in Week 17. A few weeks later, David Tyree’s catch happened and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII.
In 2011, Brady’s Patriots lost at home to the Giants, 24-20, in the regular season and fell to New York again, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI.
–Jon Gallo, Field Level Media