Tampa Bay’s Buccaneers have been enjoying all the comforts of home this week, after becoming the first team to make it to a Super Bowl that will be played in its home stadium.
"It's been normal, but so abnormal for a Super Bowl,'' Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in the pool report from Friday. "But it's easy for both teams. It's like an away game for them and for us it's a home game. It's great for preparation. On our fields, in our locker rooms, eating our own food.''
Meanwhile, halfway across the country from Raymond James Stadium, site of Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs’ final “live” practice on Friday was done in a brisk cold, with morning temperatures in the low 30s.
Per pool reporter Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star, "there was a “Ric Flair-like ‘Woo!’ and thunderous applause from players following virtually every play on either side of the football.”
Head coach Andy Reid was pleased.
"Listen, it's a shorter practice, so they're fired up to get through it and get going," said Reid, as he attempts to win a second straight Super Bowl.
The game was originally slated to take place in Los Angeles, but some construction delays meant that the NFL owners voted in May 2017 to move Super Bowl 55 to Tampa and instead give L.A. Super Bowl 56.
How much impact will the “home” Super Bow make for Tampa and even Kansas City?
We will soon find out, with kickoff set for approximately 6:30 p.m. on Sunday with CBS handling the coverage duties.
3 REASONS WHY BUCS WIN
Defensive front 7. The Bucs’ D-line and linebackers have kicked into higher gear in these playoffs with Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett making life difficult on passers. Linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White are a lethal combination and maybe the Eagles are paying attention to how valuable linebackers can actually be.
Factor in that the Chiefs are missing let tackle Eric Fisher after he suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship Game and the Kansas City O-line, with right tackle moving to left tackle and former Eagles Super Bowl champion Stefen Wisniewski steeping in at left guard, and it could spell trouble for Patrick Mahomes.
Tom Brady. Maybe he should be first on this list. If experience in these games count for anything, he will put the Bucs over the top. This is his 10th Super Bowl appearance and he is looking to win it all for the seventh time.
Revenge. The Bucs fell behind 17-0 in their matchup on Nov. 29, but a late rally fell short in a 27-24 loss. Brady threw for 345 yards and three TDs, but two very costly interceptions. The Bucs already avenged two regular-season defeats to the New Orleans Saints by beating them in the divisional round.
3 REASONS WHY CHIEFS WIN
Patrick Mahomes. He may not be the greatest of all time – that would be Brady – but he’s the greatest in the game right now. He needed some late magic to rally the Chiefs to their Super Bowl title last year with a win over the 49ers. He knows how to get it done and won’t freeze in the big moments. He was 37-for-49 with 462 yards and three TDs in their regular season win over Tampa.
Defense. KC’s unit hasn’t allowed more than 29 points with their starters playing since Week 11 and have allowed just 41 points in two playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl. DB Tyrann Mathieu has taken his game to another level and could be the difference.
Speed and playmakers. No team has more of both ingredients than the Chiefs. They can hurt you from every level of their offense from tight end Travis Kelce to receiver Tyreek Hill to rookie running Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
ED KRACZ -- BUCS 27, CHIEFS 24. Tampa’s defense does the job with some help from Brady and flips the script from their regular-season matchup. By doing so, they will have beaten the odds, which has them as a 3-point underdog, with the game going under the betting total of 56.5 points.
JOHN MCMULLEN -- BUCS 24, CHIEFS 20. Under pristine circumstances, the Chiefs have Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher protecting Patrick Mahomes, easily one of the top two or three OT tandems in the NFL. Schwartz has been on IR with a back injury since late November and now Fisher joined him after tearing his Achilles' in the AFC Championship Game. The key to stopping any QB is speeding him up, getting him off his spots, and making him uncomfortable. With Mike Remmers and Auston Wylie the fill-ins, a talented Tampa Bay front, led by edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett, should be the difference.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.