This might be considered a Throwback Super Bowl.
It is like the early days of the Super Bowl when it was a football game rather than a national holiday and festival featuring millions of parties. Remember, the first one in Los Angeles wasn’t a sellout.
Now that has all changed.
The game usually attracts 100 million or more viewers in the U.S., but all bets are off because this is the first COVID-19 Super Bowl. TV ratings are down this year even though more people are staying at home. It doesn’t figure to get a record TV audience, although it will still likely be the most-watched TV show this year.
It will have a different feel. More fans will be watching at home with only their families. Health officials like Dr. Fauci are cautioning fans not to have Super Bowl parties to avoid spreading the disease. The stadium in Tampa won’t be filled.
There wasn’t as much hype because the press conferences were by zoom and Kansas City didn’t come into town until Friday instead of spending the week at the site. The Bucs don’t have to travel because they are the first team to host the game in their own stadium.
Still, the Bucs-Chiefs Super Bowl figures to be entertaining. The Chiefs won the regular-season matchup by three, although they jumped to a 17-0 lead before sputtering. And they’re favored by three in this game.
All the hype is about Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes, but the real matchup will be the Bucs defensive line against a battered defensive line of the Chiefs.
The thing to watch is whether the Bucs can rush Mahomes with four to get him out of his rhythm and then drop seven into coverage. If the Bucs can’t get to Mahomes with four and have to bring a fifth rusher, the advantage goes to the Chiefs.
There’s also the question of how well Brady plays. Getting to the Super Bowl at age 43 is amazing even in an era when quarterbacks are protected, but he is obviously not what he was in his prime.
In his last Super Bowl appearance two years ago, he put three points on the board against the Rams the first three quarters and won 13-3. Thirteen points won’t beat the Chiefs, who are also trying to become the first team to repeat since the 2003-2004 Patriots.
As good as Brady is, he didn’t threepeat and hasn’t repeated twice. We will find out Sunday if Mahomes can take that next step towards greatness by repeating.