The Scouting Report for Sunday’s Chiefs-Buccaneers game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, which is led by former Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn and Evan Pritt.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes vs. Bucs QB Tom Brady
- Both quarterbacks are coming off of tough losses in which each failed to make a play in the closing moments.
- Mahomes is trying to build trust in his new group of receivers without Tyreek Hill. It looks like JuJu Smith-Schuster is starting to build a rapport with Mahomes as he is the second-most targeted Chiefs’ receiver with 19 targets. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was expected to be a deep threat this year, but he only has 10 catches for 105 yards.
- Tampa is typically a heavy pressure team, but Mahomes excels vs. pressure. In their 2020 Super Bowl matchup, Tampa blitzed just 5% of the pass plays compared to their 2022 average of 30%.
- Without the threat of Hill and the strength of the Bucs’ secondary, it will be interesting to see if they mix in more pressure or go with what held KC to nine points in the Super Bowl.
- The ever-competitive Brady has to relish every opportunity he has to compete against one of the game’s best young QBs.
- Brady has had very little consistency at offensive line and receiver this year due to injuries. His age is not the reason for the slow start. The return of Mike Evans should help this week. If Julio Jones and/or Chris Godwin is unable to play, don’t be surprised if Cole Beasley sees a few more targets.
- Brady will find the weakness in the defense. CB Rashad Fenton has been that weakness for the Chiefs’ defense. He has allowed nine catches for 134 yards (13th-most allowed) with one pass interference call.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Bucs LB Lavonte David
- Travis Kelce is one of the most versatile tight ends in all of football. Only a handful of guys have had success covering him consistently. Lavonte David did about as good a job as anyone could do in their matchup in Super Bowl LV.
- David was in primary coverage on Kelce on 22 snaps. He allowed just three receptions for 23 yards on five targets.
- David was tasked with keeping his eyes on Kelce. If Kelce was attached in the traditional tight end position or in the slot, David was lined up on him. He bumped to Kelce on motions from the outside receiver position into the slot and even followed him when Kelce crossed the formation.
- The only time David did not consistently cover Kelce was when Kelce lined up as the outside receiver in the formation. The Bucs typically used either Jordan Whitehead (who now plays for the Jets) or Mike Edwards in those situations.
- Expect more of the same from the Bucs’ defense. Kelce is clearly Mahomes’ favorite and most trusted target, and Mahomes has looked for him a ton this year. Kelce has been targeted 24 times with 17 receptions for 230 yards and two touchdowns through three games, all of which lead the Chiefs statistically. With similar personnel on defense and the same play-caller, I expect the Bucs to deploy the same strategy to try and limit Kelce’s production and make Mahomes look elsewhere.
Andy Reid’s Offense vs. Todd Bowles’ Defense
- Reid and Bowles are two of the most respected and successful coaches on their respective sides of the ball.
- Tampa rotates bodies up front to keep guys fresh. They have 11 sacks, and seven different players have at least one sack. You will see all of their DL and OLBs drop in coverage to give different looks.
- They are an excellent tackling team. You rarely see a team who plays such a high pressure scheme play with the discipline that they do. That is a credit to their coaching staff.
- ILBs Lavonte David and Devin White are designed to be the playmakers in this defense. They are both good droppers in zone coverage with good reactions and burst to the ball. White is an explosive blitzer with an excellent closing burst to strike through contact. You don’t see that same violence when he meets an offensive lineman in space. He will hop around or live to play another down.
- Antoine Winfield lines up at nickel and free safety. He has excellent instincts and is extremely physical. His one limitation is his height.
- LT Orlando Brown has struggled this year vs. premiere rushers. Shaq Barrett is not an explosive rusher, but he could cause some problems for Brown with his technique, leverage and motor.
- Mahomes has not appeared very comfortable with his new receivers yet, and the Tampa secondary isn’t giving up a lot of separation. They are a very physical group.
- The K.C. offense has lacked the typical explosion through three games, but I would not underestimate what Andy Reid will create against a defense that stymied him in the past.
- You can’t overlook the distractions that Tampa is dealing with due to Hurricane Ian. Their routine has been disrupted as they moved to the Dolphins’ facility. The players and staff have also had real-life concerns about the safety and well-being of their families.
Chiefs’ Keys to Victory
- Someone other than Kelce needs to step up for Mahomes.
- Don’t give the Tampa offense short fields.
Buccaneers’ Keys to Victory
- Get Fournette back on track to open things up for Brady.
- Make someone other than Kelce beat them.