National Football League

Brandon Marshall's 6 keys to victory for Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV

February 6

Tom Brady is no stranger to Super Bowl rings, but Tampa Bay is.

The Buccaneers will be searching for their second Super Bowl title in franchise history when they face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

However, the Bucs, who are 3-point underdogs according to FOX Bet, have not only Tom Brady on their side, but also a stout defensive line, which could be the key if they hope to pull the upset.

Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall laid out his six keys⁠— three on defense, three on offense ⁠— for Tampa Bay to emerge victorious.

OFFENSE

1. Protect the GOAT

Brandon's take: "You've got [backup guard Aaron] Stinnie who is the weak link, [guard Ali] Marpet is a stud, [center Ryan] Jensen is nasty and mean, Wirfs – the rookie Tristan Wirfs – is having a great rookie year, phenomenal. They couldn't ask for a better tackle."

Tampa Bay will be without right guard Alex Cappa. Backup guard Aaron Stinnie stepped into his starting in the divisional round against the Saints after Cappa fractured his right ankle.

The only member of the offensive line who has played every snap is the rookie Wirfs, who has allowed just one sack in the regular season and playoffs.

Tampa Bay has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL (22), and that bodes well for Brady on Sunday.

Not to mention, the Bucs have won three straight road playoff games against opponents that were ranked in the top 10 in sacks in the regular season: Washington (sixth), New Orleans (eighth) and Green Bay (10th).

2. Attack the K.C. secondary

Brandon's take: "The last two weeks, [Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] has been doing everything and doing a phenomenal job of him dialing it up, phenomenal job of just being creative. But you have to attack that secondary because you have Mike Evans, because you have Antonio Brown, because you have [Rob] Gronkowski, because you have [Chris] Godwin ... When you get your matchups, take advantage of it."

Spagnuolo has defeated Brady once in a Super Bowl, but he'll have his hands full with Tampa's high-powered passing offense.

The Bucs are coming into Sunday hot. They are the second team in league history to score at least 30 points in all three playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay will have to overcome a Chiefs defense that has allowed 24 or fewer points in four straight playoff games.

3. Running backs step up big

Brandon's take: "I want to see at least 10-plus catches from these guys in the backfield. We're talking about breaking tackles, we're talking about third-and-short, red zone run game, and also, like I said, catch the damn ball."

All season, the Bucs have rotated snaps between running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.

Jones led the way in the regular season, finishing with 978 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, and seven touchdowns.

However, in the postseason it's been a different story, as Fournette has emerged as a big-time contributor both on the ground and through the air.

In three playoff games, Fournette has recorded 48 rushing attempts, which is almost half of his regular-season total, and has rushed for 211 yards.

In addition, Fournette has developed as a critical pass-catcher out of the backfield, amassing 102 yards receiving in the postseason. 

DEFENSE

1. Pressure without blitzing

Brandon's take: "This D-line is relentless. They can win this game by themselves. You got [Ndamukong] Suh, you got [Jason Pierre-Paul], and you got Shaq Barrett, all playing at an all-time high right now. They can get pressure on this quarterback without blitzing, and the key to that is, if they do that, now you've got your DBs and your linebackers that can play more coverage."

Anchored by Barrett, Suh and JPP, the Bucs' pass rush has been dominant this season.

According to Pro Football Focus, the unit ranks sixth in the league in pass rush win rate and eighth in overall pass rush in 2020.

To make matters worse for the Chiefs, they will be without both starting offensive tackles.

In Week 12, the Buccaneers recorded 24 pressures, two sacks and six hits against Patrick Mahomes and K.C.'s offensive line.

2. Disguise coverage

Brandon's take: "If you go up there and try to blitz, you're going to get run off the field like you did in the first half in Week 12. So many teams try to blitz [the Chiefs], but you can't just sit back there and soft zone and play deep and show Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Eric Bienemy, exactly what you are going to do. They will pick you apart, so you've got to do a good job of bringing some pressure, not letting that guy get behind you, so you can disguise it and make it a lot tougher.

Buccaneers' defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is known for playing aggressive and mixing coverage.

According to PFF, Bowles calls blitzes at the second-highest rate in the NFL. His scheme versatility paired with blitzes can cause the opposing offense trouble.

The Chiefs dealt with Bowles in Week 12 when he cycled through his defenses, but he might have even more tricks up his sleeve on Sunday.

3. Contain rush Mahomes

Brandon's take: "If you let this guy get out of the pocket and extend plays, it's lights-out. You have no chance. This dude is deadly outside the pocket – we know that. He can make all the throws. He can throw across his body. He can throw 40 yards, 50 yards on his back leg. He can throw the ball when he's getting hit. Contain rush this guy. And the trick here is these superstars, all-stars, Shaq Barrett and JPP, you let these guys go, but they have to do a good job of having awareness of when they rush and how they rush."

With the relentless Bucs' pass rush, Mahomes will likely be forced out of the pocket early and often. When he does escape pressure, expect him to use his legs to create plays on the ground. 

In the previous matchup against Tampa Bay, Mahomes had four carries for 28 yards.

Check out Brandon Marshall's full breakdown below:

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