Chiefs vs. Buccaneers: How to watch Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes showdown; blueprint for QBs to win matchup

Not many football games get better than when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers take the field, especially since this week could be the last time Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes go head-to-head. Brady and Mahomes have had some epic duels in the past, but the final showdown easily went to the GOAT.

The Buccaneers and Chiefs will meet for the first time since Tampa Bay blew up Kansas City in Super Bowl LV when Brady won his fifth Super Bowl MVP 31-9. In that matchup, Mahomes posted the lowest passer rating he’s ever recorded in a game and was pressured with 52% of his dropbacks — the most against a quarterback in Super Bowl history.

Both teams have changed their rosters significantly since that Super Bowl match in February 2021, as neither team has since returned to the Super Bowl. Regardless, Tampa Bay and Kansas City remain contenders for the NFL crown due to their talented rosters and the presence of their franchise quarterbacks.

While this may be the last time Brady and Mahomes go head-to-head, Sunday’s showdown looks set to be a memorable one between two of the game’s best quarterbacks. Below is a preview of the Brady vs Mahomes matchup and what the Buccaneers and Chiefs must do to claim the win.

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Date: Sunday 2 Oct | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)
TV:
ABC | Electricity: fuboTV (try for free)
Consequences: CBS Sports App
Opportunities: PICK, O/U 45.5 (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

Brady vs. Mahomes

Brady and Mahomes have already met five times, which is impressive considering they’ve both played in different conferences in the past three years (they’ve met twice since Brady signed with the Buccaneers). Of those matchups, two came in the postseason — with both showdowns going in Brady’s favor.

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Mahomes has gone 2-3 against Brady in his career, and Brady has the upper hand over Mahomes when it comes to the postseason. The only way Mahomes can get a postseason win over Brady is if the Chiefs and Buccaneers can meet again in the Super Bowl, which is what made Brady’s win over Mahomes in Super Bowl LV so significant. Brady established himself as the GOAT and made sure the next big quarterback didn’t take his throne.

Here’s a look at how Brady and Mahomes have fared in their five matchups over the years:

Tom Brady vs Patrick Mahomes

Match

Brady Statistics

Mahomes Statistics

result
Season 2018, week 6

24-35, 340 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 109.2 rating

23-36, 352 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 110.0 rating

Patriots 43, Chiefs 40
2018 season, AFC championship game

30-46, 348 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 77.1 rating

16-31, 295 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 117.0 rating

Patriots 37, Chiefs 31 (OT)
Season 2019, week 14

19-36, 169 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 63.3 rating

26-40, 283 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 83.6 rating

Chiefs 23, Patriots 16
Season 2020, week 12

27-41, 345 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 96.1 rating

37-49, 462 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 124.7 rating

Chiefs 27, privateers 24
Season 2020, Super Bowl LV 21-29, 201 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 125.8 rating 26-49, 270 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 52.3 rating Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9

Brady was completing 64.7% of his passes for 1,403 yards with nine touchdowns for five interceptions and a 92.2 passer rating against the Chiefs when Mahomes started. Mahomes completed 62.4% of his passes for 1,662 yards with 11 touchdowns for five interceptions for a 95.6 rating.

Overall, the two are roughly even in their matchups — with Super Bowl LV being the deciding factor so far. Based on how Mahomes and Brady played each other, expect a high-score affair.

How Mahomes can beat the Buccaneers’ defense

One thing Mahomes has in his favor is a vastly improved offensive line that’s one of the best for quarterback protection. The Chiefs’ offensive line has only allowed two sacks a year (the fewest in the NFL), despite a 37.6% allowed pressure rate per dropback (28th in the NFL). Mahomes gets blitzed on 31.6% of his dropbacks, the eighth most in the NFL.

With sacks per press rate lowest for the Chiefs at 4.5%, Mahomes will have time to get the ball to his playmakers — specifically Travis Kelce. Tampa Bay has given up 165 yards for tight ends this season (ranked 10th in the NFL) and Mahomes is targeting 31.1% of his attempts at the tight end (ranked 3rd in the NFL).

Tampa Bay ranks sixth in the league with 78.5%. Mahomes has completed 73.2% of his passes against zone coverage for 502 yards with zero touchdowns to one interception, giving him a 93.0 passer rating this season.

While touchdowns came against man coverage, Mahomes proved he can take what’s given to move the chains. His interception was also a forced cover save for the final game of last Sunday’s game in which the Chiefs lost three. Mahomes is 11th in the NFL in passer ratings against zone coverage, but would have been in the top 10 were it not for the last game that resulted in a deflection for an interception.

If Tampa Bay is playing high zone coverage and Mahomes can’t reach, he has a golden opportunity to tear apart the Buccaneers’ defense and move the chains on long, sustained drives.

How Brady can beat the Chiefs defense

Brady will be at a disadvantage if his top receivers are unable to play in this game. He will have Mike Evans back after serving his one-game suspension but Chris Godwin (hamstring) will be a “game time decision” and has been ruled questionable. Russell Gage (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) are also ruled doubtful, while Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring) is ruled doubtful. When none of these players can walk, Evans, Cole Beasley, Jaelon Darden and Scotty Miller are Brady’s best pass catchers at wide receiver.

The situation isn’t ideal, especially for a team that has given up 477 yards and three touchdowns (ranked 16th in the NFL) to wide receivers this year. The Chiefs were playing at wide receiver with a depleted roster of Cardinals and Colts, so Kansas City’s secondary hasn’t really been tested yet.

Having the full quota of wide receivers would open up the passing game, especially against a Kansas City defense that has allowed the running backs to catch 28 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown in three games. The 28 allowed receptions for running backs is the most in the NFL, while yards are the third most.

Sunday would be an ideal game for Brady to drop the ball on Leonard Fournette (nine catches, 54 yards) and Rachaad White (two catches, 7 yards) and allow them to play in the open field. Brady only targets his running backs 16.5% of the time, so maybe there’s an opportunity to switch that strategy against an aggressive defense.

If Brady doesn’t have his top wide receivers, it doesn’t make sense for him to force the problem onto the ones he does. Fournette once caught 76 passes in one season (2019) and 69 last year. White has the ability to provide a nice change of pace and has been one of the best passing running backs in the nation over the past year.

Brady has his meal card to earn points against the Chiefs’ defense.

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