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John Dewan's Stat of the Week - Kansas City Chiefs

Stat of the Week: The Key Guys in Stopping Mahomes & Brady

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Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady figure to be throwing the ball all over the field in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

But what should we know about the players who are trying to stop them?

Let’s start with perhaps the most important defender to watch for the Buccaneers, cornerback Carlton Davis.

Davis got burned for 10 completions on 12 targets for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the Chiefs 27-24 win over the Buccaneers in Week 12. That included touchdown passes of 75, 44, and 20 yards to Chiefs’ receiver Tyreek Hill. Davis also allowed two touchdowns and 87 yards on five completions in seven targets by Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game.

So given those two games, why would Bruce Arians trust Davis in Sunday’s matchup?

Consider this: As a whole, Davis has played well this season. He finished 11th at the position in our Total Points player value metric (which measures regular season play). Much of that came in the first half of the season. In fact, he led all cornerbacks in Pass Defense Points Saved through the first eight weeks. He had all four of his interceptions this season in that time.

Davis missed two games at the end of the season with a groin injury but returned for the playoffs. Ahead of Sunday’s game, Davis has said that the loss to the Chiefs helped him grow as a player.

We’ll see how much it helped him in a few days.

As for the Chiefs, safety Tyrann Mathieu will figure prominently in their effort to stop Tom Brady. Mathieu ranked fourth among safeties in Points Saved and was first in Pass Defense Points Saved this season. Mathieu has four interceptions in his last six games, including one against Brady in Week 12.

Of the 55 safeties who were targeted the most, Mathieu tied for the fifth-lowest completion percentage against (19-of-38, 50%). His six interceptions ranked third among all players in the league this season. Mathieu was a first-team All-Pro selection for the second straight year and third time in his career.

Mathieu figures to be a big presence against anything Tampa Bay tries on Sunday. How big of an impact he makes could go a long way in determining the winner of that game.

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