Before the AFC Championship, all of Arrowhead Pride’s contributors expected the Kansas City Chiefs to defeat the Buffalo Bills and advance to Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But hardly any of us saw a 14-point victory on the horizon; our aggregate prediction of a 35.4-29.6 Kansas City victory was off by more than a touchdown. Our readers were a bit less optimistic than usual — 89% thought the Chiefs would win — but like us, 77% thought the game would be close.
Let’s see what our staff — and our readers — think about the Chiefs’ second-straight appearance in the Super Bowl.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
This is it, Chiefs Kingdom. After a whole season of waiting for the playoffs to begin, the Chiefs navigated January with far more ease than I was expecting — which, I might add, was the complete opposite of last year. This trend will continue on Sunday when the Chiefs jump out to a hot start and never look back. By doing so, they will confirm what we all believed: this is the best team in the league — and it’s not particularly close. Chiefs 38, Buccaneers 24
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
On paper, this game should be close. But like Joe Montana used to say, “The ball is shaped weird. Sometimes it bounces funny.” So the Buccaneers could win — but I don’t think they will. Tom Brady is still a player to be greatly respected. However, much of his well-earned success comes from playing alongside teammates who are just as accustomed to the pressure of a championship as he is. This time, the Chiefs will have that advantage — and I also think that Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy and Steve Spagnuolo will outfox the Tampa Bay coaching staff. Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 24
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
The Buccaneers are the right team to be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl — which their talented roster proved with impressive wins over the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers in their last two games. That being said, there was never going to be a team that could match this year’s Chiefs. We’ve watched them nonchalantly dominate teams all season — and in their postseason games, they barely had to sweat. Even if they do have good individual talent, I don’t believe Tampa Bay has the defensive unit to truly stifle Kansas City. Andy Reid will coach around his patched-up offensive line and give Patrick Mahomes a multiple game plan with plenty of screens and misdirection. Steve Spagnuolo won’t allow Brady to keep up, forcing at least one crucial turnover from the GOAT. Back-to-back champions. Chiefs 37, Buccaneers 28
Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina)
This is one of the few times a year where my true football nerd self just blows up and can’t contain the excitement. After digging through countless Chiefs and the Buccaneers games, it just became really hard for me to find a path for Tampa Bay to win. Whether it’s positional matchups, schematic stand-offs or each teams’ tendencies, everything comes up Kansas City. When the Buccaneers have the ball, Steve Spagnuolo will be so deep in his bag of tricks that even after the game — with every resource and no time limit in the way — it’ll be hard to pin down exactly what he was doing. The coverage disguises, the unique blitz packages and just how many different parts of the field Tyrann Mathieu can cover will be unlimited. When the Chiefs have the football, all eyes will be on the offensive line — but the way the Chiefs quick game has been playing, it simply may not matter. In addition, the Buccaneers’ ability to disguise coverages is limited. How they handle 3x1 formations — the Chiefs’ bread and butter — is rather rudimentary. I’m not sure there is much hope the Chiefs don’t crack 30 points. The Chiefs control this game from start to finish. Anything short of that will be rather surprising. Chiefs 35, Buccaneers 26
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
Last season — with a difficult path full of improbable comebacks, injuries and a defense that took a long time to put it all together — it felt like the Chiefs were a team of destiny. This season has been much more of a smooth ride, with little doubt that they’d ultimately end up in the title game once again. They brought everyone back, added a stellar rookie class and have consistently excelled in a bizarre (but ordinary) season. Now they face a difficult task in stopping Tom Brady in his 10th Super Bowl — and all signs point to this Chiefs team being uniquely equipped to do just that. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense has the right combination of multiple coverage players and creative pressure to contain the Tampa offense. Then when the Chiefs have the ball, the greatest player on Earth takes over with a future Hall of Fame tight end and receiver. Assuming they play to their ability — which they will — this offense can’t really be stopped. This might not be as close as people think. Look for Mahomes get everyone involved and put on a show featuring at least four touchdowns. Sit back and enjoy it, Chiefs fans. Chiefs 42, Buccaneers 31
Craig Stout (@barleyhop)
This is a good Buccaneers team with a solid offense and a very talented defense. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the Chiefs are just better. Patrick Mahomes wants to beat Tom Brady on the biggest stage, furthering the legend of the young quarterback. For his entire career, Steve Spagnuolo has tailored game plans to beat elite quarterbacks. He will want to cement his legacy against one of the best to ever do it. The Chiefs get out to a big lead, then hang on late to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Chiefs 34, Buccaneers 28
Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson)
Patrick Lavon Mahomes has lost one game in the last 454 days. By his indication, he and his turf toe will be close to 100% when these two teams match up. I don’t care if it's me and Pete Sweeney lined up at tackle, I'm not betting against the best player in the world. This team has looked different in January. Both offense and defense have been firing on all cylinders. Expect that again. Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 27
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
The area of this game that is getting the most attention (and deservedly so) is the Buccaneers’ talented front against Patrick Mahomes — still dealing with his toe injury — behind a backup-filled offensive line. But I would caution Chiefs fans in worrying too much about that potential mismatch. This is something that has been well known for the last two weeks, which has allowed Andy Reid to scheme up and prepare a quicker-paced offensive attack. Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea did not play in Week 12, but he will in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Despite a few differing personnel, I see the game playing out much as Week 12 did, with the Chiefs jumping out to an early lead. Tom Brady presses late and throws an interception — and Mahomes is efficient in his second straight Super Bowl MVP win. Chiefs 37, Buccaneers 27
Who wins Chiefs (16-2) at Buccaneers (14-5)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout
Chiefs in a close game
Buccaneers in a close game
Buccaneers in a blowout
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
Among our contributors, only Matt Stagner correctly predicted the 14-point Kansas City win against the Bills; his 42-28 pick carried just eight points of error, giving him his third win of the season. Matt Lane and Pete Sweeney tied for second place; both were 14 points off with their 31-24 and 38-31 predictions. Pete’s pick was good enough to continue his rise in the standings, taking over second place.
Like most NFL fans, pundits (and AP contributors) our readers picked the Green Bay Packers over the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. Our readers arrive at the Super Bowl with a leaguewide prediction record of 179-87-2, which is 67.2%.
Here’s how AP writers have done with their straight-up picks across the league:
All season, the Arrowhead Pride staff has been registering their straight-up, against-the-spread and over/under picks for every NFL game with Tallysight.com, which keeps track of the picks from hundreds of football writers and analysts across the country.
Tallysight has a unique rating system that considers not only the accuracy of each pick, but also the risk an individual takes in making it. Using this metric, four AP writers — Ron Kopp (2nd), Kent Swanson (3rd). Craig Stout (7th) and Pete Sweeney (10th) ranked in the Top 10 overall. All of us made the Top 100.
As a staff, we landed in first place overall, ranking sixth straight-up, 10th against the spread and second over/under.