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The Bucs Had The Perfect Plan

We’re spending the show on the Super Bowl. The game did not end up being the exciting passing duel we wanted, but the outcome was certainly what Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles deserved for so thoroughly dismantling the Kansas City offense. The Chiefs didn’t seem to have a plan for that Bucs’ defense, and they seemed flat from the start of the game. Patrick Mahomes looked human for the first time in a very long time, although some of Kansas City’s problems came down to bad luck and unnecessary penalties. Mahomes is still the most talented quarterback in the league, and if the Chiefs can fix their battered offensive line, he still has a good shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. But Tom Brady didn’t slip up, to no one’s surprise; even when he does make mistakes, he tends to make smart ones — which Sara finds very annoying.

Even before this game, there wasn’t really a question about Brady’s GOAT status in football. (And only football. Until Simone Biles has the chance to somersault over defenders and Brady nails his floor routine, let’s not have any of this cross-sports-comparison nonsense.) Brady didn’t turn in a dominating performance that sheds some new light on him as a player, but he’s now played in half of the Super Bowls in the past 20 years. It’s a level of success that just doesn’t seem replicable, however much he owes to the fact that GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians built one of the most complete teams in football. Even there, Brady helped: Gronk would have stayed retired this year if not for Brady. Instead, he made a case for himself as MVP — although, as Geoff talks about, the hierarchy of Super Bowl MVP choices dictates that the winning quarterback wins automatically unless he had a very bad game. If Nick Foles can win one, any QB can.

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil looks at Jordan Spieth’s unfortunately long losing streak. He seemed poised to snap it for a moment at the Phoenix Open but came up short … again. At one time, Spieth was on the cusp of becoming the face of the PGA, but he hasn’t won anything since the 2017 British Open. That feels like roughly a hundred years ago now. But maybe he was lucky to just get close. Sara and Geoff point out that while Spieth sunk some wild long putts over the weekend, the kind of game he was playing was unsustainable. To win, he should, you know, get better at hitting the fairway.

What we’re looking at this week:

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.