Today’s the big day: Super Bowl LV, or 55, for you non-Romans out there.
Can you believe it? This is the 20th consecutive year in a row I’ve made my Super Bowl picks and accompanied them with the picks of local “experts,” namely area football coaches, high school players, athletic directors and a few others from time to time.
Turning the pages of some Observers from the early 21st century, I found my first picks were back in 2001, although the Super Bowl column was actually a “Gary’s Glimpses” column and appeared on the editorial page.
It changed to a “Grandstanding” column and included guest picks the next year.
There’s been one constant: Despite all my pro football “knowledge,” I’ve often picked the game wrong. Although I’ve gone 4-2 for the last six big games, I’m only 4-6 in the last 10.
And, oddly some might think, although I’m one of Tom Brady’s biggest fans and I’ve often picked his team — before Super Bowl LV, the Patriots — to win, I can’t do it this year. And SB 55 is a meeting of the last two QBs to win the Super Bowl: Brady and the Pats beat the Rams in SB 53; Mahomes and the Chiefs beat the 49ers in SB 54.
After watching the NFC and AFC championship games on Jan. 24, I’m thoroughly convinced the Kansas City Chiefs, behind future Football Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes, have enough to beat Brady and the Buccaneers. The Chiefs opened as a 3-point favorite; they should cover that easily.
KC has too many gimmick plays offensively – remember that shovel pass to Travis Kelce for a TD vs. Buffalo? — and Mahomes is a master of making something out of nothing, and who can keep up with speedy Tyreek Hill on long-pass routes?
Plus, led by Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, the Chiefs have a great defense, especially against the pass, which they showed in their rout of Buffalo. And they know TB12 will be chucking it around — and if he can’t find an open receiver, he’ll be sacked.
And, not that this means as much to my previous reasoning, the Chiefs beat the Bucs 27-24 when they met in Tampa in Week 12.
So here are my picks: Kansas City 37, Tampa Bay 28. MVP: Travis Kelce.
Here’s how I saw it last year: Chiefs 37, 49ers 31; MVP, Pat Mahomes. (I noted I’d gone with the ’Niners the last time they were in it, SB 47, and they lost to Baltimore.)
Tre Watson, Cleveland High football and basketball standout (bound for Fresno State): Chiefs win. I don’t think Tampa’s offense can keep up with those boys for K.C. Chiefs, 35-24. MVP: Mahomes.
Isaiah Chavez, UNM quarterback and former RRHS student-athlete: The Chiefs’ offense is simply better and has so many weapons. Chiefs, 35-21. MVP: Tyrann Mathieu.
Marcus Williams, UNM wide receiver and former CHS student-athlete: The Bucs will win because they have a better defense and will slow down the Chiefs’ air attack. Bucs, 24-21. MVP: Mike Evans.
Dave Howes, UNM assistant football coach: Tampa Bay, because Brady is the GOAT and he elevates all the athletes around him. Bucs, 36-30. MVP: Tom Brady.
Heath Ridenour, Cleveland High football coach: I am going to go with the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady will keep it close; Tampa Bay’s defense will force a couple of punts. Ultimately, Mahomes has three of the best targets in the game to throw the ball to. Chiefs, 31-27. MVP: Mahomes.
Larry Chavez, executive director of athletics for RRPS: Kansas City’s speed will be hard to contain. Offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy has several weapons at hand for the Chiefs. Tom Brady will make it close, but the Bucs defense will not have the speed to stop the Chiefs. Chiefs, 31-28. MVP: Mahomes.
Matt Martinez, Cleveland High athletic director: “Kansas City has the experience from playing and winning the Super Bowl last year and they have a better offense with a solid defense. Chiefs, 35-24. MVP: Mahomes.
Vince Metzgar, Rio Rancho High athletic director: I’m impressed with how the Tampa Bay defense has been playing and I want to see the old man Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl and fifth MVP. Bucs, 35-28. MVP: Tom Brady.
Preston Dennard, Super Bowl XIV participant: “I look for big plays with a limited amount of mistakes — an evenly matched game. The difference will be Mahomes’ play — I think he’s gonna be that much better in leading his team. You have the two best quarterbacks playing; Brady will be precise but the difference will be Kansas City’s defense; they will set the tone early. Bottom line: Kansas City’s defense is talented and gifted. Chiefs, 34-27. MVP: Kelce.
By the way, in Super Bowl LIV last year, Rio Rancho High School football coach David Howes predicted, “I think Kansas City will make more plays and (coach) Andy Reid is the X factor.” Chiefs 31, 49ers 20. MVP: Pat Mahomes. (Congrats again, Dave, on the perfect pick for the score, as well as the winning team.)
The game kicks off at 4:30. It should be a great game, and could come down to the last team with the ball winning it!
And there might even be some entertaining commercials!