Super Bowl 55 is shaping up to be one of the more exciting ones in recent memory. It has the storylines, the players, the explosive offenses, and more. There aren’t more fans, analysts, and experts could ask for in this Super Bowl.
With a championship on the line, it will take a complete effort from everyone on the field to get a win. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are going to make their mark on the game, but some of the other players have the opportunity to impact the game also. Three specific ones can become impact players in Super Bowl 55.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark
Whenever a team faces Tom Brady, their defense’s biggest priority is to get pressure on him. When Brady is under pressure, he becomes an entirely different quarterback and not in a good way.
The Kansas City Chiefs have Chris Jones in the middle, but he will likely face double teams. Frank Clark has to step up and get some pressure on Brady Super Bowl Sunday.
Clark is one of the most underrated pass rushers in the NFL. His quickness and flexibility getting around the edge make him a nightmare for opposing tackles. During the regular season, he had six sacks, per ESPN.
He was constantly in the opponent’s backfield, racking up 11 tackles for loss in 2020, per Team Rankings. Clark knows how to get after quarterbacks in the postseason also.
Last postseason he went on a rampage, accumulating five sacks in three games during their Super Bowl run. He started slow in this year’s playoffs but has turned it around.
After not getting a sack in the divisional round against the Cleveland Browns, he got two in the AFC championship against the Buffalo Bills. The Bucs have a rookie tackle in Tristan Wirfs starting, which could be an excellent matchup for Clark.
If Clark can make a home in the Bucs’ backfield on Sunday, it will derail their entire offense. Brady is playing well at age 43, but he doesn’t want to get hit. If Clark can get to Brady, he could walk away with another ring and maybe the Super Bowl MVP.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul
Much like the Chiefs’ defensive gameplan, the Bucs will have to pressure Patrick Mahomes. Tampa has been one of the better teams getting after the quarterback, having 46 sacks during the regular season, fourth-most in the NFL, per Covers.com. Given his experience playing in Super Bowls, Jason Pierre Paul could end up having a huge day.
Pierre-Paul has been a fierce pass rusher this season alongside Sahquil Barrett. His 9.5 sacks this season were just outside the top 10 in the league. He forced four fumbles, tied for third-most in the NFL.
He came alive in the NFC championship game against the Bucks, totaling two sacks in that game. It not his ability to get to the quarterback that makes him such an asset. He can deflect passes at the line of scrimmage and be a force in the run game.
The Chiefs are banged up on the offensive line, which should get Pierre-Paul and the entire Bucs defensive excited for the matchup. Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher is out with a torn Achilles, injuring it in the AFC championship game. His absence is forcing the Chiefs to shift around their O-line. Pierre-Paul must take advantage of Mike Remmers, who is shifting from guard to replace Fisher.
It will be on JPP to make sure he not only gets to Mahomes but takes him down. With a makeshift O-line, the entire defense can wreak havoc on Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense. If they can do that, it considerably increases their chances of winning the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette
There is no proven formula on how to beat the Chiefs and their offense yet. However, there are some things a team can do to limit their effectiveness. One way is to keep Mahomes and those weapons on the sideline. The Bucs can do just that with Leonard Fournette in the backfield.
Fournette has come a long way this season, earning his reps in the Bucs’ offense. He’s been their go-to back in the postseason, rushing for 211 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 4.4 yards a carry in the playoffs.
He’s been useful in the passing game also, having 111 yards and a touchdown. He is a power back, which means he can slowly drain the defense as the game progresses.
Another aspect of Fournette’s game will need to be on point for the Super Bowl: his blocking. The Chiefs love to bring Tyrann Mathieu off the edge in corner blitz situations.
There was a similar play in the NFC championship game where Fournette didn’t block a blitzing corner, which resulted in an interception. He will need to make sure he knows his blocking assignment so Brady has time to throw the ball.
The Bucs didn’t run the ball much this season, and they probably won’t in the Super Bowl. It would be smart if they do because of how Fournette has performed and because the Chiefs are a mediocre run defense. Don’t be surprised if Fournette, Pierre-Paul, or Clark make an impact play that changes the Super Bowl.