Red’s Superb Owl Pick

Red was awoken the other morning by Mrs. Red’s exclamation.

“TOM BRADY IS IN THE SUPERBOWL!”

You’ll have to forgive Mrs. Red as she doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to goings on football-wise unless Red is actually decamped on the sofa watching some modern-day gladiation and Mrs. Red is wanting to get on Hulu to watch the latest episode of “This is Life” or “Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist” on the old 52 incher. But even the most football adverse of news feeds eventually spills the worst kept secret in the land. Brady and the Buccaneers will be facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay and Mrs. Red was just a little bit late to the party.

But Red will say this for the old gal, she really hates her some Tom Brady. And she always puts out a good Super Sunday spread (nobody beats Mrs. Red when it comes to charcuterie) and settles in to watch the big game with Red and about a billion of his closest friends. Red checked in with some of his European compadres earlier this week and yes, many folks do hit the sack early on Sunday for a quick 4-5 hours before getting up between midnight and 2a.m. to join in on the festivities. Others just push on through.

As for the game itself, loyal readers will recall that Red picked the Chiefs over the Saints in his preseason predictions. Picking the Chiefs to repeat was not as risky a proposition as you might think. It’s been done 8 times – most recently by the Patriots in SB 38 and 39 and also by the 49ers, Cowboys, Stealers (twice), Dolphins and Packers in SB 1 and 2. So out of the 55 SBs so far 16 have been double downs. That’s a fair percentage.

Red has mixed emotions here. Surely, he should stand behind his preseason pick and take the Chiefs. In retrospect, the Chiefs were the best team all season even though the Stealers had a great run (only to finish the season staggering around looking for a place to fall). The Bucs defied Red’s expectations through much of the season and all of the playoffs. If Red picks the Bucs he can’t really lose. If correct, he will have picked the winner. If wrong, he will be happy.

But you can’t let emotions get in the way of sound football science. We have some empirical evidence here. The Chiefs visited Tampa Bay in Week 12 and the two quarterbacks put on a show. Patrick Mahomes and Brady combined to throw for 807 yards and six touchdowns. Tyreek Hill absolutely torched the Bucs’ secondary for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mike Evans was no slouch either with 2 late touchdowns to make this one look closer than it was. The Chiefs strolled out with a 27-24 win.

Given the offensive firepower of these two teams (Nos. 1 and 2 in passing yards in 2020), it would seem unlikely that a tight defensive fight is going to break out on Sunday. Of course, that thinking is frequently wrong especially as it seems teams frequently play tight in the first half of the championship game.

The Chiefs have been unbeatable on the road this season. Yes, literally unbeatable going 8-0 away from home. The Bucs Each team’s star wide receiver had a multi-touchdown game, as Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans scored twice late after Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill racked up an unreal 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the way to a 27-24 Chiefs win. That loss pushed the Bucs to 7-5 and they would have been on the playoff bubble except for playing in an historically weak NFC.

The Bucs were a less than stellar 5-3 at home in the regular season and a remarkable 3-0 on the road in the playoffs beating the two best teams in the NFC (Packers and Saints) in the process.

Red predicts that the Bucs will jump out to a 14-0 lead mid-second quarter. And at that point, Andy Reid will have the Bucs right where he wants them. The Chiefs score on the next 5 possessions while only giving up a field goal and moving into the 4th quarter have a 31-17 lead. The aged wonder begins the comeback and its 31-27 when the Chiefs get the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock. Andy Reid will never give the ball back to Tom Brady and the Chiefs score a final touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game. Then Reid calls for an onside kick. The Chiefs recover and repeat with a 38-27 win.

You read it here. Red will have the season wrap-up in a week or two. Until then, keep the nachos coming.

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