Rick Zamperin: And the winner of Super Bowl LV is…

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates at the end of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 38-24. AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

What do the Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, World Series and Super Bowl all have in common?

They, of course, are the championship games of the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL, the pinnacle of the season for each of the four major professional sports leagues in North America.

However, there is one major difference among the league’s four finales. Believe it or not, the Super Bowl has proven to be the most elusive championship to win.

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To claim the National Hockey League‘s Stanley Cup a team must survive a gauntlet of four gruelling best-of-seven playoff series and win 16 playoff games in total. The same goes for the National Basketball Association, while Major League Baseball teams play the most regular-season games during the year (162) they have to win as little as three series to be called champions.

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In the National Football League, playoff teams must win three or four games before they can raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and when it comes to the Super Bowl, it is a one-game championship as opposed to a best-of-seven series.

Have a bad game, and your chance at pro football immortality can vanish in 60 minutes.

Winning a football championship may sound easy, but 12 of the NFL’s 32 teams — 37.5 per cent –have never won the Super Bowl and four of them (Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville) haven’t even played in the big game.

By comparison, 11 of the NBA’s 30 current franchises (36.7 per cent) have never won a title, 11 of 31 NHL franchises (35.4 per cent) have not raised the Stanley Cup and six of baseball’s 30 teams (20 per cent) are still looking for their first World Series crown.

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Tom Brady has won six Super Bowl rings, more than any other player in NFL history, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback is hoping to get another when he squares off against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

The contest is being played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, marking the first time in Super Bowl history that the host city will have its hometown team in the game, yet it’s the Chiefs who have been listed as the favourites to win by three points.

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Given that they are playing at home, the Bucs might see those odds as a slight against them, but K.C. has won more games than Tampa Bay this season including their 27-24 victory in Week 12 against the Buccaneers in the Sunshine State.

Mahomes threw for 462 yards in that game as well as three touchdowns to speedy receiver Tyreek Hill who recorded 13 receptions for 269 yards as K.C. burst out to a 27-10 lead before the Bucs closed the gap to make it respectable. Brady had 345 passing yards and three touchdowns in that matchup but he was also intercepted twice.

If history repeats itself on Sunday, fans can expect an entertaining shootout — one that will likely top the projected over-under point total of 57.

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Apart from the game itself, one of the best parts of the Super Bowl are the prop bets, short for proposition bets, which include a myriad of things that fans can wager on besides which team wins or covers the point spread.

You can bet on how long it will take Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan to sing the national anthem, will the opening coin toss be heads or tails, and what colour the Gatorade will be when it is dumped on the winning head coach.

Being the first Super Bowl of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can also wager on how many players will miss the game due to the league’s coronavirus protocols.

Click to play video: 'Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans celebrate after team clinches Super Bowl spot'
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans celebrate after team clinches Super Bowl spot

And let’s not forget about the commercials!

At US$5.5 million each, companies are willing to pay up to bring their product to the tens of millions of people who are expected to watch the broadcast, even though they won’t be doing so at a traditional Super Bowl party at someone’s home, or at a sports bar, due to COVID-19.

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Not that it has any bearing on what happens on Sunday, but AFC teams have won or covered five of the last six Super Bowls, and the favourites are 35-19 straight up. Still, that didn’t stop a bettor in Nevada who plunked down US$2.3 million at a sportsbook BetMGM on the Bucs to cover.

So which team wins it all?

Do the Chiefs run it back as their 2020 season motto suggests, or does ‘Tom Terrific’ add to his unmatched resume and win an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl?

Both teams were among the highest-scoring clubs in the NFL during the regular season and were No. 1 and No. 2 in passing yards. The Bucs have the top-rated run defence in the league while the Chiefs were second (behind only Green Bay) in third down conversion percentage on offence.

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But here is where the tide shifts toward Kansas City. Mahomes, Hill and tight end Travis Kelce should be able to exploit Tampa’s 21st ranked pass defence with quick tosses mixed in with intermediate and deep routes as head coach Andy Reid dazzles us again with his superior play calling exploits.

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The Bucs compiled the fourth most quarterback sacks during the regular season, but Mahomes is deadly under pressure and whether they are ahead or behind on the scoreboard the Chiefs seemingly always find a way to get the job done.

Super Bowl LV pits the greatest quarterback of all-time against the man who is well on his way to challenging that notion, and this Sunday Mahomes will add to his burgeoning legacy.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

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