By Eric Umphrey
The Times 

NFL Conference Championship Preview

Bay vs Bay

 

January 21, 2021

Tampa Bay travels to Green Bay this week to determine who will represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl. During Aaron Rodgers' storied career, it's easy to forget that he has played in and won the Super Bowl just once. It was back in the 2010-2011 season when he defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Rodgers has only made it to the Conference Championship game four times, in 2010, 2016 2019, and 2020.

Tom Brady is 9-4 in Conference Championship games and is 6-3 in the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers are healthy except for wide receiver Antonio Brown who is listed as questionable with a knee injury. For the Packers, linebacker Krys Barnes is listed as questionable with a fractured thumb during their win over the Rams.

In their only matchup this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers 38-10 in week six at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers scored 28 points in the second quarter to pull away with the victory. It was Rodgers' worst game of the season, throwing for 160 yards with two interceptions for Green Bay. Rodgers would throw only three more interceptions the rest of the year. If Tampa Bay can contain Green Bay's running game, as they did in the regular season, they have a chance. However, I expect the Packers to win this one at home.

In the AFC matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, a lot will depend on whether Chiefs Patrick Mahomes will be cleared to play after he was removed from last week's game for concussion protocols. Backup quarterback Chad Henne got his first taste of the playoffs in his eleven-year career. Henne's last start at quarterback was in week seventeen. Before that his last start was in 2014 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Beyond Mahomes, the Chiefs have some other injuries to starting players. Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB, Willie Gay LB, and Sammy Watkins WR are all listed as questionable for this game.

Running back Zack Moss has been placed on injured reserve for the Bills and is the only significant team injury. In week six, Kansas City defeated Buffalo 26-17. Chiefs running back Edwards-Helaire ran for a season-high 161 yards. As a team, the Chiefs rushed for a total of 245 more than Mahomes passed for and more yards than Buffalo's total offense for the game. Buffalo hadn't made it to the Super Bowl since the early 1990s when they lost four Super Bowls in a row (1991-1994). Kansas City is the best team in the NFL this season, but if I had to pick an upset this week, it would be the Bills over the Chiefs this week.

 

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