By Owen Gund
Championship Sunday has arrived with only four teams left standing. In the NFC two veteran quarterbacks will battle it out on the frozen tundra in Green Bay, Wis., while in the AFC two deep and talented teams led by exceptional quarterbacks will compete to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LV. Both games will be competitive, but only two teams will advance to the Big Game. Let’s break it down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-5) @ Green Bay Packers (14-3) 3:05 p.m.
The Buccaneers went into New Orleans and upset their division rivals by winning the turnover battle, running the football well, and getting timely throws from their quarterback. This week the Bucs face a much more difficult matchup in Green Bay, and they will have to do each of these three things to win once again. It is worth looking back at the last time these two teams faced each other in Week 6. Tampa Bay picked off Aaron Rodgers twice, ran for 158 yards, and went 4 for 4 in the red zone. The Bucs have shown that they can compete with this talented Packers team, but Green Bay has done an excellent job cleaning up their game since that Week 6 loss.
Aaron Rodgers looks like a man on a mission this season. That Week 6 loss to the Bucs was the only time he was intercepted more than once this season. The Packers have been outstanding taking care of the football. Green Bay committed the fewest turnovers in the league this season with Rodgers only throwing five interceptions. Heading into championship Sunday, there has been a lot of talk about Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs. This week, expect Davante Adams to show everyone why he is the top wide receiver in the league.
The Buccaneers are an impressive team with no glaring weaknesses. Their defense has been especially impressive at forcing turnovers, but they won’t be getting any gift-wrapped interceptions from Drew Brees. The Packers dominance for most of this season helped them earn the right to host the NFC Championship at Lambeau. This is their game to lose
The Pick: Packers: 31 Bucs: 24
Buffalo Bills (15-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (15-2) 6:40 p.m.
The Bills head to Arrowhead Stadium as underdogs despite appearing invincible for the past two months. Last week against Baltimore, their defense stymied the reigning MVP and prevented an elite Ravens offense from finding the end zone. Their offense, despite being stifled by a stout Ravens defense for much of the evening, was able to find the end zone on a nice throw from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs. Heading into Sunday’s game, Diggs leads the league in receptions and receiving yards. Allen will need a strong performance from his top target in order to go punch for punch with a potent Chiefs offense
The Chiefs are hosting a third straight AFC championship game with the help of their star quarterback and his lethal group of pass catchers. The Legion of Zoom has only been held under 20 points once this season and with Mahomes set to play tonight, they should eclipse 20 points once again. If the Bills want to pull off the upset at Arrowhead, they may need to follow the blueprint their division rivals set in the AFC championship two years ago.
The Patriots were able to shut out the Chiefs in the first half by dominating in time of possession and getting quick three and outs from their defense. If the Bills can get off to a good start and withstand the inevitable surges from this Chiefs offense, they will have a good chance of winning. The Chiefs defense will key in on Diggs, and it will be up to secondary playmakers like Cole Beasely and Devin Singletary to help this offense move the ball.
The Bills defense has been lights out lately and their offense should have an easier time this week against a Chiefs defensive unit that is significantly worse than Baltimore’s. The greatness of the Chiefs offense cannot be denied, but I expect the Bills defense to neutralize them just enough to get the victory.
The pick: Bills: 24 Chiefs: 21
Featured Image: Mark Lomoglio / Associated Press