The Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to win the NFC championship without the help of Antonio Brown. With the wide receiver working his way back from a knee injury, many have speculated as to whether the former Pittsburgh Steelers star will make an appearance in Super Bowl 55.
Unfortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown’s injury situation has taken an ominous turn.
It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Antonio Brown down in Tampa
Although the Buccaneers already had plenty of pass catchers, Tom Brady wanted Antonio Brown to join him down in Tampa.
To no surprise, the GOAT got his wish.
However, the Buccaneers didn’t exactly sign the All-Pro version of AB.
The seven-time Pro Bowler only caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. Brown’s 10.7 yards-per-catch average ranked as his worst mark since he became a full-time player in 2011.
Still, the Bucs have to at least be happy that the enigmatic wideout has kept a low profile since reuniting with a quarterback he got to know for one game with the New England Patriots.
Following a rather non-descript regular season, Brown caught a touchdown pass in Tampa’s 31-23 victory against the Washington Football Team. Against the New Orleans Saints, however, he caught just one pass for 10 yards. He injured his knee during the divisional round, which kept him out for the NFC title game.
With Super Bowl 55 inching closer, Brown’s availability has remained a bit of a mystery.
AB’s injury situation has taken an ominous turn for the Chiefs
On Wednesday, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said that Antonio Brown, along with Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr., got “about half a practice in” and that most of them “looked pretty good.”
He added that the team would monitor any swelling in Brown’s injured knee on Thursday.
And based on a report from Tom Pelissero, it’s clear that his health situation has taken an ominous turn for the Chiefs.
According to the NFL Network reporter, Brown was upgraded to a full participant in Thursday’s practice. Assuming he doesn’t have a setback, that puts him in line to play in the biggest game of the year.
For the Chiefs, having to defend yet another proven playmaker will make their mission to repeat as champions much more difficult. As Tom Brady has shown throughout the course of his career, he can spread the ball around to a number of targets. So if AB is back in the mix, Tampa will have the ability to spread Kansas City out, if it chooses to do so.
Of course, the Bucs have to worry about stopping a high-powered offense, too.
Whose weapons will step up more in Super Bowl 55?
Considering they still have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski, the Buccaneers could survive without Antonio Brown. But if he’s able to take the field against the Chiefs, that will give Tom Brady yet another weapon to target in the passing game.
But even if TB12 has all his toys, that might not be enough to secure a seventh Super Bowl ring.
Sure, Tampa has the ability to put up 30 points on any given day.
The team on the other side of the ball can put up even more.
Like the Bucs, the Chiefs also have a fantastic set of weapons. And like Brady, Mahomes has a key receiver of his own who should be returning in time to play in the Super Bowl. With Demarcus Robinson set to come off the COVID-19/reserve list, that gives Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy another playmaking option to call upon.
Of course, he’s just a supporting act for the main attraction: Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The perennial All-Pros might be the two most unstoppable forces in football. Kelce may have already taken Rob Gronkowski as the best pass-catching tight end in NFL history. Hill’s unbelievable speed makes him a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Ultimately, it will be incredible to watch how each team tries to slow down the opposing offense. Will Brady’s boys band together and play mistake-free football? Or will Mahomes’ collection of young, explosive castmates prove too much for Tampa to handle?
If you like offense, this game’s for you.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.