By Skip Charles in Vegas

Tom Brady’s 10th career Super Bowl start next Sunday night will come as his Bucs (14-5 SU, 11-8 ATS) become the first host team to play in the big game.

They’ll face Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Chiefs (16-2 SU, 8-10 ATS), who have won 25 of their last 27 outings and opened as 3-point favorites.

Date/Time: Sunday, February 7, 6:30 p.m. ET

Stadium: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

TV Coverage: CBS

Opening Odds: Chiefs -3 | O/U 56 1/2

OddsSharks.com points out that as crucial as the number 3 is, it seems even more important in games involving the Chiefs.

Four of KC’s last nine victories have come by three points or less, with three exactly on the number. The Chiefs have also been a gold mine for years when laying this short a price, going 15-4-1 ATS in their last 20 games as favorites of a field goal or less.

Tampa Bay’s offense enters the Super Bowl on a roll, having scored at least 30 points in six straight games. That includes the Bucs’ 31-26 win over the Packers in the NFC championship game, when Brady threw three touchdown passes – the 10th consecutive contest in which he’s thrown for multiple majors.

However, Brady and the offense have had plenty of help from their defense in putting up those numbers, particularly in the playoffs. An interception and a fumble recovery set up two of Tampa Bay’s touchdowns against the Packers, a week after the defense recorded three turnovers in New Orleans territory in the divisional round.

The Bucs also generated plenty of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, sacking him five times and hitting him on eight occasions despite blitzing less than a third of the time.

Tampa Bay expects to have Antonio Brown back in the lineup after the former All-Pro wideout missed the NFC title game due to a knee injury. Brown had caught five touchdowns in a four-game span before hurting his knee against the Saints.

Reportedly playing through turf toe on his left foot, Mahomes still threw for 325 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Bills in the AFC championship game. Mahomes, who had also been in concussion protocol in the week leading up to the game against Buffalo, was especially effective on play-action passes, completing all 11 of his attempts for 173 yards and a touchdown.

Mahomes was also able to move around enough to stay out of trouble against the Buffalo pass rush, getting sacked just once, although his five rushing yards were his fewest in a game since early November.

Two weeks off to heal the toe could be key for Mahomes’ mobility in the Super Bowl behind an offensive line that will be without its top two tackles. Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher injured his Achilles against the Bills while right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (back) has been on injured reserve since Week 11.

Although the point spread cover against Buffalo was the Chiefs’ first in their last 10 games, their ATS woes haven’t been any fault of the defense. Excluding a 38-21 loss to the Chargers in Week 17 in which KC sat many of its starters, the Chiefs have held seven straight opponents under 30 points and have allowed an average of 18.3 points per game in their last three.

Betting Pick: Chiefs -3

It’s not easy going against Brady in a big game, but this Chiefs team has lost just twice in its last 27 games. All but one of KC’s last 56 victories have come by a field goal or more.

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