NFL

What you need to know about Super Bowl LV

The Buccaneers will face the Chiefs on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa
(iStock and Getty Images)

For the first time in NFL history, a team will play the Super Bowl in its home stadium: The Buccaneers will battle the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa for Super Bowl LV.

This postseason, Tampa Bay became the first team in a decade to win three road games en route to the Super Bowl. The Bucs were led by Tom Brady, 43, in his first season outside New England in his two-decade career. A win could solidify his legacy as perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time, as he has proved he can succeed without Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

Kansas City is trying to become the eighth NFL franchise to win back-to-back titles. The Chiefs are led by Coach Andy Reid and 25-year-old quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the defending Super Bowl MVP. A win would cement Kansas City as the NFL’s preeminent modern dynasty.

That the game will happen on time is reflective of the league’s commitment to forging ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL tested daily, shuttered team facilities after positive results, postponed games, shuffled schedules, endured outbreaks, forced teams to play on short rest and without key players — and managed to complete its regular season as scheduled. This was all in service to the steady march to the Super Bowl.

When is the Super Bowl?

Sunday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Where is the Super Bowl?

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

What channel is the Super Bowl on? Is it streamed?

CBS, with free streaming on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app.

How is the NFL handling the coronavirus?

The league, like everyone else, is going digital. Most Super Bowl week events will be virtual or canceled. News conferences with players and coaches will be online, including Monday’s media night — a circuslike staple of Super Bowl week.

Teams would usually get to Tampa one week before the game. But this season, the league mandated they arrive no earlier than Friday, two days before the game. This turns the biggest event of the year into, logistically, just another game for the teams.

Will there be fans in attendance?

Yes, about 22,000, or 30 percent of capacity at Raymond James Stadium. The league will give about 7,500 free seats to health-care workers whom the NFL said will have been vaccinated. Most will be from Tampa, the league said, but it will allot some tickets to those from other NFL cities.

The NFL plans to sell the other 14,500 tickets. Buyers will be selected by lottery, as usual, with designations for every team. There will be about 2,000 more fans in luxury suites. The non-health-care-worker fans will not be required to be vaccinated.

Who will perform the halftime show?

Canadian R&B singer the Weeknd was selected toward the end of a particularly successful year, given that his album “After Hours,” released in March, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and held the spot for four weeks straight.

“Performing on the iconic stage,” he tweeted alongside the announcement. Annual sponsor Pepsi wrote, “When your talent is limitless, you belong on the world’s largest stage.”

“After Hours” and its chart-topping lead single “Blinding Lights” were snubbed by the Grammys. The Weeknd accused the Recording Academy of being “corrupt,” and an unidentified source told Rolling Stone that his team had been given an ultimatum over his performing at the Super Bowl in proximity to the originally scheduled Grammys ceremony. The academy denied that they snubbed him as retaliation. — Sonia Rao

Have the Buccaneers played in the Super Bowl?

Yes, Tampa Bay won its only Super Bowl appearance in the 2002 season. Coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Brad Johnson were helped by a fearsome defense to beat the Oakland Raiders, who had traded Gruden to the Buccaneers before the season.

Most of the players on this year’s Buccaneers roster hadn’t made the playoffs before this season. But quarterback Tom Brady will appear in his 10th Super Bowl, a seemingly unbreakable record. This will be Bruce Arians’s first Super Bowl as a head coach, though he was the offensive coordinator when the Pittsburgh Steelers won the title for the 2008 season.

What about the Chiefs?

Yes, last season the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20, to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 50 years. In the fourth quarter, Mahomes led a 21-point barrage to cement the stunning comeback. Most of the team’s key pieces remain, including wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, defensive tackle Chris Jones and safety Tyrann Mathieu.

Last year was the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl appearance since they won Super Bowl IV on Jan. 11, 1970, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7, in New Orleans.

How do the teams match up?

This is a battle between high-octane offenses headlined by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time (Brady) and a young passer who could one day join him in that echelon (Mahomes). The embarrassment of offensive riches on the field will include receivers (Hill, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans) and tight ends (Kelce and Rob Gronkowski).

In November, Mahomes outdueled Brady as the Chiefs edged the Bucs, 27-24, in Tampa. Brady played well — three touchdowns, two interceptions — but Mahomes was superlative, throwing for 462 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hill recorded 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns in perhaps the best receiving performance of the season.

Those fireworks could prove to be prologue. To contain the Chiefs, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is likely to rely on exotic blitz packages. His unit is the NFL’s top-ranked run defense and often forces opponents to throw, but the Bucs lack a top-flight cover cornerback and their secondary is liable to allow big plays.

Yet the Chiefs’ defense is perhaps a bigger concern: It was a bend-don’t-break unit for most of the season. It’s possible Brady could take advantage of mistakes in ways others couldn’t, as he did on a long touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers just before halftime in the NFC championship game.

Have they met in the Super Bowl before?

No, this will be the first meeting.

How did the teams reach the Super Bowl?

The Bucs, the NFC’s fifth seed, won at the Washington Football Team, at the NFC South-winning New Orleans Saints and at the top-seeded Green Bay Packers. Tampa Bay was the first team in a decade to win three straight road playoff games, and it was helped by the minimal crowds in New Orleans and Green Bay.

The Chiefs, the AFC’s top seed, received the conference’s only first-round bye, an even more valuable advantage this season because the NFL added another playoff team. Kansas City beat the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round even after Mahomes left with a head injury in the second half, and then the Buffalo Bills, who could prove to be a top threat in the AFC in the coming years, in the conference final.

Why does the Super Bowl use Roman numerals?

To avoid confusion as it plays the Super Bowl the calendar year after the regular season, according to the NFL. This is Super Bowl LV, or Super Bowl 55.

What does the Super Bowl winner get?

The Vince Lombardi Trophy — a 22-inch-tall, seven-pound, sterling silver football on a stand. Each member of the winning team also gets $130,000.

Who is singing the national anthem?

Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church. Sullivan recently released the critically acclaimed R&B record “Heaux Tales”; Church, deemed entertainer of the year at the 2020 Country Music Awards, announced he would be releasing three albums this spring. Grammy winner H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful.”

Why is it called the Super Bowl?

Good question. The origin is somewhat unclear, but it came shortly after the established National Football League merged with the upstart American Football League in 1966. The contest between the league winners was, for a few years, called some variation of “the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” But the NFL knew it needed something catchier.

One popular legend is that Lamar Hunt, owner of the Chiefs, suggested “Super Bowl” because his children loved the Super Ball, a bouncy and popular toy. He said “bowl” was a phonetic confusion with “ball.”

How much is a ticket to the Super Bowl?

The average ticket typically costs between $4,000 and $5,000, according to SeatGeek.com. But this year, with fewer seats, the cheapest ticket on the resale market is about $6,000. Better seats cost multiples of that.

How did Super Bowl commercials become a thing?

Commercials became more expensive after Apple’s famous “1984” ad. Super Bowl commercials were popular before — especially “Mean” Joe Greene tossing a kid his jersey in an ad that aired during Super Bowl XIV in 1980 — but after Apple’s ad, the value of the 30-second spots exploded. Last year, they reportedly sold for a record $5.6 million each and were seen by nearly 100 million viewers.

Which teams have never won the Super Bowl?

Twelve total. Eight have played in the Super Bowl but lost: the Minnesota Vikings (four times), Buffalo Bills (four), Cincinnati Bengals (two), Carolina Panthers (two), Atlanta Falcons (two), Los Angeles Chargers (one), Tennessee Titans (one) and Arizona Cardinals (one).

Four have never appeared in the Super Bowl: the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

We noticed you’re blocking ads!

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.
Unblock ads
Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us