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Which Super Bowl Team Has the Best Defense in 2021 – Kansas City or Tampa Bay?

| January 29, 2021 4:08 am PDT
Comparing Super Bowl 55 Defenses Chiefs vs. Buccaneers

Super Bowl 55 projects as a shootout. The top Super Bowl 2021 betting sites set it up with a 56 game total, and it’s a game featuring Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.

These two icons combined for 78 regular season passing scores and 25 wins. Their teams were in the top-5 for scoring, while the Chiefs own the NFL’s top-ranked passing game.

Bettors can assume there will be plenty of offense, while an earlier regular-season clash ended in a 27-24 win for the Chiefs.

Offensively, this game could be straight fire.

That’s precisely why defense could be the difference-maker here. Which team has the best defense in Super Bowl 55? Could any edge on defense be enough to help either side pull out the win?

It’s always possible this game just comes down to who has the ball last. But if bettors can uncover a clear winner on defense, they may find the right way to bet.

Comparing Super Bowl defenses may be worth your while. Let’s dive into some specific situations to see which defense is a little more trustworthy going into the big game.

Chiefs’ Pass Rush vs. Buccaneers’ Pass Rush

NFL games are often won in the trenches. If you can generate pressure up front, even the best quarterbacks can wilt.

If you can sack them, they don’t even have the opportunity to advance the ball.

When comparing the Buccaneers and Chiefs upfront, it’s really not all that close. Tampa Bay has the way nastier pass rush.

Here’s a quick look at how the two measure up in some key pass-rushing categories.

Stat Buccaneers Ranking Chiefs Ranking
Sacks Per Game 6th (2.9) 19th (2.1)
Sack % 10th (6.88%) 19th (5.45%)
Quarterback Hits 2nd (116) 11th (97)
Total Sacks 4th (48) 19th (32)

No matter how you slice it, the Buccaneers are a problem upfront. Their versatility is pretty annoying for opposing offenses, as they have a number of elite pass rushers to worry about.

Shaq Barrett is the big one, and he’s coming off of a three-sack performance in the NFC title game.

He’s just one piece of the puzzle, however, as the Buccaneers ranked 8th in the 2020 PFF pass-rush rankings thanks to their blitz.

The only problem? Patrick Mahomes is kind of good against the blitz.

On the other side, Kansas City still has a plenty capable pass rush. It got to Josh Allen frequently in the AFC title game, and it has two elite talents in Chris Jones and Frank Clark.

It’s true that the Chiefs lack reliable names beyond those two guys when it comes to their pass rush, but it may only take them to wreck this game.

When settling the debate of who is better between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, a deciding factor is Brady’s historic issues with pressure.

If the Chiefs can perform above their regular-season rankings, Brady could be in trouble. And even if the Bucs do, it’s possible it may not matter.

That said, it’s not really a debate as to which Super Bowl 55 team has the better pass rush. The Buccaneers win this one, hands down.

Which Super Bowl Defense Stops the Run Better?

Oh, hey there, Buccaneers. It’s been so long.

Yeah, Tampa Bay takes the cake here, too, and it’s not even close. The Chiefs actually have had major issues against the run, and they may have lucked out when they hosted a one-dimensional Bills offense in the AFC title game.

Kansas City also probably benefited from an early lead in the Divisional Round against the Browns. Overall, they contained a top-5 rushing attack, but in terms of efficiency, Cleveland still found plenty of success.

On the year, stopping the run just hasn’t come easy for the Chiefs. Their elite passing game and high-scoring offense have masked it in spots, but they still ranked 21st against the run.

Tampa Bay is much stronger up front, and they should get extra credit for staying elite despite not having interior stud Vita Vea for 11 regular-season games.

Despite that, here’s how they ranked in key defensive rushing stats.

Stat Total Ranking
Rush Yards Allowed 1,289 1st
Rush TDs Allowed 10 1st
Rush Yards Per Game Allowed 80.6 1st
Rush Yards Allowed Per Att 3.6 1st
Rushing Attempts Allowed 358 1st


Teams trying to run the ball against the Buccaneers were met with insane resistance. Not many teams found high-level success, and most simply got completely shut down.

This isn’t as concerning for the Chiefs as it might be, seeing as they don’t really care about running the ball. In a game set up with a 56 total, it’s likely the ball gets thrown around the field a ton.

Regardless, the numbers don’t lie. Kansas City probably won’t find much success on the ground even if they want to, and the Bucs have a far better shot at establishing the run.

Chiefs’ Secondary vs. Buccaneers’ Secondary

Another key to comparing Super Bowl defenses is checking out the secondary for either side.

This is different than just comparing the pass rushes for the Chiefs and Buccaneers, as it’s pretty arguable Tampa Bay’s secondary benefits immensely from a stout defensive line.

Tampa Bay is otherwise extremely vulnerable against the pass, and top cover man Carlton Davis has especially struggled in the playoffs.

To be fair, the Bucs do still have an enforcer in safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., and this secondary is very aggressive. Davis himself – despite obvious struggles – still has the most forced incompletions (37) of anyone since 2019.

Do they get away with a lot of contact and/or give up big plays? Yes, to both, but they also pick off a lot of passes (7th most in the NFL).

Simply based on their aggressive nature, the Bucs aren’t necessarily a cakewalk here – especially if the guys up front get to Patrick Mahomes. It could obviously end up being disastrous, but getting to Mahomes could potentially lead to forced throws where Tampa Bay could jump routes, tip balls, or simply win jump balls.

This matchup still favors the Chiefs, but Tampa Bay’s secondary may be slightly better than anyone suggests.

When comparing Super Bowl 55 defenses, though, the Chiefs have the edge here.

That’s saying something when you note that their pass rush isn’t nearly as impactful, yet this defense has performed very well against the pass. Just see where they fall in line with the rest of the NFL.

Stat Total Ranking
Interceptions 16 6th
INT % 2.9% 6th
Completion % 62.7% 5th

Were the Chiefs the best pass defense in the NFL? Not even close. However, Tyrann Mathieu directs a pretty underrated group that made Josh Allen look pedestrian during the AFC title game.

In fact, they made Allen look human twice this year. They also stifled Tom Brady for three quarters earlier this season and have enough in their defensive backfield to do so again in Super Bowl 55.

Which Super Bowl 55 Defense is Better?

Deciding who has the better defense in Super Bowl 2021 isn’t very complex. The Chiefs have the ability to be the better unit when the dust settles, but going into Super Bowl 55, that just isn’t the case.

From top to bottom, the Buccaneers are the more feared defense in Super Bowl 2021.

Tampa Bay was by far the league’s best-run defense, and their pass rush was as good as anyone else.

When those two elements of their defense are clicking like they can, this is a dominant defense that can mask their clear issues in the secondary.

The problem? Kansas City is kind of the worst possible matchup for them, and we saw exactly how that might play out already.

On the other side, Kansas City doesn’t stop the run well, but their pass rush has upside, and their secondary is a strength. If the Chiefs even get a little pressure on Brady, their run defense could become a non-issue, and a pressured Brady could unravel.

If you just want to know which Super Bowl 55 defense is better, it’s the Buccaneers. The question, of course, is if that leads to Tampa Bay being the right bet at Super Bowl 55 betting sites.

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Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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