NFL Conference Championship Weekend; Who's Advancing to Super Bowl 55?
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The Divisional round has come and gone. The Bills defeated Baltimore in an ugly game that had people betting on the over going to bed at halftime. Aaron Rodgers and company took care of the Rams and advanced to the NFC Championship game for the second straight season. Green Bay will host for the first time since 2007 and unbelievably Aaron Rodgers first home conference championship game. The Sunday slate featured the Chiefs and Chad Henne narrowly defeating the Browns as we all expected. The nightcap was a matchup between Brady and Brees in New Orleans. Tampa Bay took advantage of costly Saints turnovers and ended Brees' career.
Conference Championship Sunday is the best weekend in professional football, in my opinion. It is a culmination of a long season and for two teams, a lifelong dream is fulfilled of making it to the Super Bowl. For Tom Brady however, it's just another Sunday.
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NFC Championship Game: 3:05 PM ET (FOX), Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ #1 Green Bay Packers (-3) O/U 51
Brandon: I've gone back and forth on this game all week. As a new Wisconsin resident, I feel obligated to pick the Packers. Aaron Rodgers has come up short in the postseason year-after-year. However, this year feels different. Brady doesn't have Belichick and I think that's the difference. Yes, Brady has gotten the Buccaneers this far, but I believe this game will come down to coaching. I trust Matt LaFleur over Bruce Arians. Rodgers has to play well, but the pieces around him have to as well. Tampa Bay has an excellent defense, there's no question about it. I really hope I don't regret making this pick (I probably will), but I have to go with the Packers after long consideration. Aaron Rodgers don't let me down please!!!
Prediction: Packers 23-20
Christian: Can Tom Brady play in cold weather? That is.. the ultimate question (I'm kidding). This game features two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, a young head coach vs. a seasoned one, and some of the best wide receiver talent in the league. We all know that. That's why I think defense is going to determine the winner of this game. If the Packers can bottle up the Buccaneers running attack, I think they have a decent shot at winning this game. With Ronald Jones likely still hurting, I think that's entirely plausible. I'm taking the Packers.
Prediction: Packers 31-27
Randy: Well, I picked against the Packers last week because of the Rams being a tough matchup for them. This was also done somewhat as an opportunity to catch up in the predictions rankings. Unfortunately, that backfired for me thanks to a dominant job on both sides of the ball from Green Bay. For the Packers to win this, their defense has to play exactly like it did last week and their passing game has to dominate with no turnovers. Unfortunately for the Packers, Tampa is a very good defense and will make life tough for Rodgers. They will get more pressure than the mostly Aaron Donald-less Rams defense last week. They also do an incredible job blitzing, which will be a huge problem for the Packers offensive line. Then you bring in that the Buccaneers run defense is amazing, especially with the returning Vita Vea coming off of IR. The Bucs need to establish the run early and often and allow Brady to work off that to pick apart this Green Bay defense. I think the Bucs will blitz through the soul of Rodgers and this Packers offense this week, causing 3rd and long and turnovers just like their regular season matchup. I'm betting at least one more week on Brady.
Prediction: Buccaneers win, 30-24
Sean: Well I missed on the Super Bowl winning QB going against Aaron Rodgers in the conference championship, but this should be a great matchup. I know people want to talk about the Week 6 game that saw Tampa Bay dominate Green Bay in every aspect, but this will not be the case the second time around. I've been saying since early in the season that this feels like the Packers' year, especially with Aaron Rodgers playing out of his mind, which I'm loving every second of. I think that the Packers' offensive firepower will be too much for the Bucs to handle in the rematch, and A-Rod gets back to the promise land for the first time since 2010
Prediction: Packers 31-23
Adam: Week 6 the Bucs dominated the Packers 38-10 in Tampa. Ronald Jones ran for 2 TDs, while Brady threw for 2 more. Overall it was huge win for Tampa. Too bad the Packers will get the last laugh. Even though Tampa has won the last two games on the road, I have not been overly impressed with their play. Add in Ronald Jones' injury and game status is unclear, I feel the Packers will headed to the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers is playing his best football all season, and they are playing with some much confidence. The other big reason I am picking the Packers, is my dislike for Tom Brady. I get that he is the greatest of all time, but I still don't like him.
Prediction: Packers win 35-24
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AFC Championship Game: 6:40 PM ET (CBS), Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
#2 Buffalo Bills @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (-3) O/U 54
Brandon: Patrick Mahomes is beat up. This is the only time I haven't felt supremely confident in Kansas City in quite some time. Buffalo is hot. Really hot. Stefon Diggs & Josh Allen have been a lethal combination all season long. I think Buffalo has the perfect recipe to go into Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs. The Bills defense has really come on of late and not being able to run the football hasn't come back to bite them yet. I just don't believe Mahomes is healthy enough to go out and win this game. I'm not willing to put money on that right now. Getting back to the Super Bowl has proven to be a very difficult task and I believe Buffalo is catching them at the right time. Party on Buffalo, you will be headed back to the Super Bowl at the end of the night on Sunday. If you have a need for a table in the Tri-State area, you might want to get on that before the weekend hits.
Prediction: Bills 34-30
Christian: As my good friend Brandon just stated, Patrick Mahomes is hurting. Whether it is the nerve or the toe, we know that Patrick Mahomes won't be 100% on Sunday. The Cleveland Browns had a chance to beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week when Mahomes went down, but he also was clearly affected by that toe injury. The difference: the Bills offense won't have any issues dicing through the Kansas City defense (in relative terms; going to Arrowhead is never easy). I am taking the Bills in a close one.
Prediction: Bills 24-21
Randy: I have said on our show multiple times that I think the Chiefs are repeating as Super Bowl champions. However, things change and life moves on. Kansas City likely will get Watkins and Edwards-Helaire back this week, as well as getting Mahomes back to start from concussion protocol. The Bills have been healthy for the most part for this whole run, so this should be an exciting and even matchup. The Chiefs need their explosive plays to win this as well as establishing a run game early with Clyde. This will give some of the pressure off the banged up Mahomes. I believe somewhat the same thing for Josh Allen and the Bills. They need at least a decent run game this week with Singletary and Allen. Allen has been on fire throwing all year and I think that can continue this week, but a run game will hurt the Chiefs. The Bills defense also showed a great outing last week against the Ravens and really shut down Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews for most of the game to limit the Ravens fire power. That matches up great going against Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The only unfortunate thing for the Bills is that the Chiefs duo is much better. Edmunds and the safeties need to contain Kelce in the middle, with in my opinion no press coverage. Hopefully White can limit Hill deep as well. Now the biggest thing if that works is to get pressure on Mahomes without blitzing a lot. He will read the blitz and get the ball out quick to the open guy, however pressure from the line with a spy has been shown to limit him slightly. Honestly though, I just want to root for the Bills. They are an easy team to root for, especially when your teams are ousted from the playoffs so you want to root for some new teams. Bills complete their rebuild and lets get the tables ready Bills Mafia!
Prediction: Bills win, 27-24
Sean: Good for Buffalo man. This has been a really enjoyable run for a team that's really easy to root for. Bills Mafia was out in full force last week against Baltimore, and it's unfortunate that we don't get to watch them host the AFC championship. Obviously the question everybody is asking revolves around the Chiefs MVP QB Mahomes, and I do think he plays in this one. But I've said all year how hard it is to repeat; we almost saw that last week with the Browns pulling off the historic upset *sigh*. I think Josh Allen is going to be the reason why the Chiefs don't repeat this season. He's playing too well, and the magic just seems to be with Buffalo right now. Give me the young QB vs. the old gunslinger at Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
Prediction: Bills 35-34
Adam: Seems like everyone is giving up on the Chiefs because of the QB situation. They honestly should not even be here. Sorry Cleveland friends, the Browns choked away that opportunity. During the 2017 season, Andy Reid's former assistant kept saying one phrase to his team "A person makes a difference, but a team makes a miracle." Mahomes not being healthy is a huge blow to KC, but this team is loaded with talent. There are solid receivers all over the field, and a solid running game. I need to catch up in these standings myself, and a lot of them took the Bills. Therefore, I am taking the Chiefs. If Chad Henne starts, he is going to have a huge game, and if Mahomes plays he is going to show everyone why the Chiefs signed him to a 1/2 billion dollar contract. Either situation, my favorite coach of all-time is going to eat a giant cheeseburger when he clinches back to back AFC Championships.
Prediction: Chiefs win 24-21