The Bucs and Chiefs prepare to face off for the first time since Tampa Bay’s 31-9 victory in Super Bowl LV
Each of these teams were just a play or two away from their Sunday Night Football matchup being between two 3-0 teams. Instead, the Bucs are coming off a 14-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers while the Chiefs are coming off a 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The difference is, the Bucs lost in their home opener while the Chiefs lost on the road.
The Bucs lead the all time series 8-6, having won six of the last seven and holding a 5-3 record at home including Super Bowl LV.
Some of the faces are different in this one, having not been around for Super Bowl LV. For the Chiefs, it’s most of the pass catchers. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have joined the offense in Kansas City while Tyreek Hill is no longer around. The Bucs have lost key players from that Super Bowl like Rob Gronkowski, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh but have added Logan Hall, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage. Then there’s Ronald Jones who just swapped a pirate flag for an arrowhead on his helmet.
After giving up just one touchdown in their first two games, the Bucs gave up two touchdowns on the Packers’ first two drives last week before Vita Vea forced a fumble by Aaron Jones as the Packers were on the verge of scoring a third time. That was when the defense tightened up and shut down Green Bay’s offense the rest of the game. Surprisingly, it’s the offense that’s been the issue.
The Bucs currently rank 24th in scoring offense (17 points per game), 22nd in passing offense (211.3 yards per game), and 25th in rushing offense (86 yards per game). Not the high powered offense we’ve come to know since the arrival of Tom Brady. Now, they’ve obviously be dealing with a lot of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, but things just don’t seem to be clicking right now for Brady and the offense.
Defensively, there’s been few issues. The Bucs are tied for the most takeaways in the NFL (8), tied for first in fumble recoveries (3), and tied for second in interceptions (5). The Bucs are still the top scoring defense in the NFL, allowing 9.0 points per game. They are currently 12th in passing defense (209.7 yards per game) and 5th in rushing defense (79.3 yards per game).
On the flip side, the Chiefs have just two takeaways defensively on the year while turning the ball over three times on offense. The Chiefs are 17th in scoring defense (21.7 points per game), 15th in passing defense (224.7 yards per game), and 9th in rush defense (86.7 yards per game).
Offensively, they’re not the prolific offense many believed they would be after week one. While they’re ranked 4th in scoring, averaging 29.3 points per game, they scored 44 points in week one then combined for 44 points in weeks two and three. The Chiefs are 6th in passing (281 yards per game) and 22nd in rushing (93 yards per game).
Obviously the big threat on Kansas City is going to be Travis Kelce, who leads the team with 230 yards while Smith-Schuster and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire round out the top three receivers on the team with Smith-Schuster leading the team with three touchdowns.
In their last meeting, Mahomes threw two interceptions, was sacked three times, and was hit ten times. He ran for 497 yards behind the line of scrimmage in that game due to the Bucs’ relentless pass rush. If the Bucs are going to win this week, that pass rush will need to be every bit as effective as it was in that game.
Following the events of Hurricane Ian, the game will still be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as the hurricane changed course and didn’t hit the city as originally believed. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are -1 point home underdogs with an over/under of 45.
The Bucs have won three straight games when they were the underdog and have been the last team to score in each of their last ten games against AFC opponents. The Chiefs have seen five of their last six road games hit the over.
The Bucs and Chiefs will square off on Sunday Night Football with Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark on the call. You can watch the game on NBC or stream it on Peacock at 8:20 p.m. ET.