A Super Bowl billed as Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes — a quarterback battle of the ages, the GOAT against his rightful heir — figures to be a close and thrilling coin-flip.
That’s not exactly how Sporting News’ NFL experts see it, though. Super Bowl 55 between the Chiefs (14-2) and Buccaneers (11-5) is likely to be competitive, according to our predictions, but SN’s writers are unanimous in their picks to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in 2021.
Kansas City opened as a 3.5-point favorite over Tampa. That line has since shifted slightly toward the Bucs, resting at -3 as of Monday, as the “home team” awaits the defending champions at Raymond James Stadium. The SN staff also sees an offensive showcase surpassing the Vegas point total (56.5), with five of six writers projecting the over.
Below are all of our expert picks for Super Bowl 55, complete with explanations for each pick and score predictions for Chiefs vs. Buccaneers. Chiefs vs. Buccaneers
MORE SUPER BOWL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight-up predictions
Super Bowl 2021 predictions: Expert picks for Chiefs vs. Buccaneers
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Chiefs -3
Moneyline: Chiefs -167, Buccaneers +145
Vinnie Iyer: Last year in this space, I somehow went with a pick against Patrick Mahomes. Let’s correct that now, because the Chiefs are playing as complete Super Bowl reigning champions.
Tom Brady has done great work leading the Buccaneers and raising their offensive efficiency. The “home team” also has a pretty good overall defense. But the Chiefs counter well and have QB play, pass defense, coaching and experience all on their side on top of that unstoppable, intimidating feeling. Although Brady will have his typical Super Bowl moments, Mahomes will have a lot more of his to ensure the Chiefs repeat, keeping himself on a special trajectory to rack up rings.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 27
Bill Bender: Patrick Mahomes passed for 462 yards in the regular-season meeting, and at one point it looked like Tyreek Hill would set the single-game receiving record. Tackle Eric Fisher’s injury is a major storyline given how Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul were able to combine for five sacks in the NFC championship game, but Mahomes presents more of a challenge because of his mobility.
Look for a similar game to emerge the second-time around. Kansas City will build a first-half lead behind TD passes to Hill and Travis Kelce, but Tom Brady — as he so often does — will lead a comeback in the second half. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski will make their share of plays in the passing games, and Leonard Fournette will be more involved this time around.
In the end, however, the Chiefs don’t give Brady a chance to lead the game-winning drive. Mahomes wins Super Bowl MVP honors again, and Andy Reid starts thinking about a three-peat.