Conference Championship Preview

In-depth look at this weekends Conference Championship games.


Anthony Rubek, Sports Editor

After two weeks of hard-fought football, it is now down to four teams battling for a chance to be a part of history with this weekend’s Conference Championship games. The AFC and NFC’s best are going at it with a trip to Tampa on the line. After going 3-1 last week, here are two guaranteed wins this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (Sunday, FOX, 2:05 PM CT)

The NFC championship is a week six rematch between the fifth seeded Buccaneers and the first seeded Packers. The Bucs defeated their rival Saints 30-20 in the divisional round. Tampa’s defense came up big, forcing four turnovers including three interceptions on Saints QB Drew Brees. Tom Brady had another great game throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one. The Packers took care of business against the Rams last Saturday, winning 32-18. Green Bay’s offense exposed the Rams number one ranked defense scoring in all but two possessions. Aaron Rodgers continued to dominate, passing for two touchdowns and one rushing. In the two teams first matchup, the Bucs rolled to a 38-10 win. Rodgers struggled in that game throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns. Something to watch for is the weather as it is supposed to be 25 degrees and snowing in Green Bay. While this may not affect Brady, who knows how it will affect the rest of Tampa. Another facet to watch is the matchups between the teams receivers and corners. The Bucs have three top 15 receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. While Packers Pro Bowl corner Jaire Alexander has been lockdown this year, they need other guys like Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan to step up and guard the other two Bucs. On the other side, Tampa has young studs Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting. However, I like Packers receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard after they both had productive games against the league’s number one ranked passing defense. I think the main key for the Packers is to not turn the ball over as they were up 10-0 in the week six game until Rodgers threw two interceptions. As for the Bucs, they must capitalize on offense as the Packers defense has been inconsistent throughout the season. This game will be close but I see Green Bay winning it, securing a spot in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010.

My Pick: Packers 28 Buccaneers 20

Buffalo Bills (13-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) (Sunday, CBS, 5:40 PM CT)

The AFC championship is a matchup between the second seeded Bills and the first seeded Chiefs. The Bills had a strong performance against Baltimore, winning 17-3 on Saturday night. The connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs was prominent once again with Diggs recording eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Bills defense also stepped up with cornerback Taron Johnson picking off Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and taking it 101 yards to the house. The Chiefs narrowly escaped the upset-minded Browns thanks to the late game heroics of backup quarterback Chad Henne. The 35-year-old came in for Kansas City after Pro Bowl quarterback Patrick Mahomes went to the locker room after taking a hard hit from Browns linebacker Mack Wilson in the third quarter. Mahomes is now in concussion protocol and is questionable for Sunday’s game. With Mahomes status up in the air, tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill must have good games. The two combined for 16 catches and 219 yards against Cleveland. As for the Bills, lookout for running back Devin Singletary as the Chiefs run defense has been suspect as of late. While Buffalo’s rushing game has been non-existent this playoffs, I expect that to change with Singletary being the main factor. As for the Chiefs defense, keep an eye on defensive tackle Chris Jones, who after a 7.5 sack regular season, is due for a big game. Buffalo’s secondary consists of great players such as cornerback Tre’Davious White and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, but they must be ready to contain the Chiefs speedy receivers like Hill and Mecole Hardman. Obviously, the outcome of this game will depend on whether or not Mahomes is playing. I think with Henne at the helm, the Bills win easily. But with Mahomes, the game may be a difference of one play. That one play being a game winning field goal from Bills kicker Tyler Bass to send Buffalo to its first Super Bowl since 1994.

My Pick: Bills 31 Chiefs 28

With a chance to play for the Lombardi on the line, these games will be nothing short of spectacular.