AFC AFC East AFC West Bills Buccaneers Chiefs NFC NFC North NFC South NFL Packers

NFL Conference Championship Preview

Photo courtesy of LMI Sports

We’ve made it. After all the drama about potentially not having a season, and all the crises along the way with outbreaks in team facilities, we are near the end. There are two more games before the greatest sporting event known to mankind, the Super Bowl. These two games will decide who will be fighting for the Lombardi Trophy and supremacy of the NFL for a season. Now it is time to look back on these four teams and see how they got here, and then look forward to make an educated guess onto who will be in the big game.

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First up, the Buffalo Bills.

This season has been a successful one for the Bills, as they went 13-3 and won the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Before this season started, many had hopes that the Bills would take the next step after Tom Brady left the division last offseason. To say the least, Buffalo has lived up to the expectations. At the helm is Josh Allen, a third year quarterback that has had the best season of his career. A new addition to the team that came from a blockbuster trade in the offseason is Stefon Diggs, a sixth year wide receiver that came over from the Minnesota Vikings. Together Allen and Diggs created a phenomenal relationship which lead their team to the AFC Championship game. To begin the year, they went 4-0 before briefly going on a two game losing skid. After losing again in week ten, the Bills went on a six game winning streak to end the season. Buffalo was able to clinch the second seed in the AFC, but due to the addition of a seventh team the Bills had a game Wildcard weekend against the seventh seed Indianapolis Colts. In their Wildcard matchup, the Bills narrowly defeated the Colts 27-24, sealing the win by stopping Indianapolis on a last second Hail Mary. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, they took on the Baltimore Ravens. The game was a defensive one with the offenses for both teams combining to score only 13 points, and Buffalo winning 17-3. Now the Bills look forward towards the AFC Championship Game this weekend, the first time they’ve been to this game since the 1993 season.

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Next up to the table, the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs are the team that many people had returning to the Super Bowl, or even winning it again, at the beginning of the season. To say that they have lived up to their expectations is underselling what they have done this year. Leading Kansas City is Patrick Mahomes, a fourth year quarterback that won the NFL MVP in 2018 and was the Super Bowl LIV MVP. This Chiefs team is fairly similar in their roster to the team that won the Super Bowl last season, which is why they have been a favorite to win it again this year. Kansas City went 14-2 in the regular season, winning the AFC West division and clinching the first seed in the AFC, and the only bye week for the AFC in the playoffs. After losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in week five, the Chiefs went on a ten game win streak that only ended the last week of the year because they were resting their starters. After having a bye during Wildcard weekend, they faced the Cleveland Browns in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Kansas City ended up winning 22-17 but in the third quarter Mahomes went down with a concussion. His availability for the AFC Championship game is in question due to him being in concussion protocol. Whether Mahomes is playing or not, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to make it to back-to-back Super Bowls and to potentially become the first team to repeat as champions since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005.

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Now first on the NFC side of things, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After going 7-9 in 2019, the Buccaneers have turned things around, mainly due to some huge offseason pickups. During this past offseason Tampa Bay added veteran quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running backs LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette, and wide receiver Antonio Brown. These new additions with the talent already on the team in the form of running back Ronald Jones II and wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin led many to predict the Bucs to go far this season. However, things were looking dire for the Buccaneers with them going into their bye week with a record of 7-5. With their record and the New Orleans Saints also being in their division, the NFC South, many had fears of the Bucs not reaching the playoffs. After their bye week, Tampa Bay went on a four game winning streak to end the regular season and to clinch the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bucs had to travel to Washington D.C. to take on the Washington Football Team on Wildcard weekend where they ended up winning 31-23. Then Tampa Bay had to face their division rivals the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. During the regular season the Saints had beaten the Bucs twice at the scores of 34-23 and 38-3, but in the Divisional round the Bucs got the better of their rival and won 30-20. The last time the Buccaneers went to the NFC title game was in 2002 when they ended up winning Super Bowl XXXVII. Now they are hoping that they can repeat that outcome and win again.

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Finally, the last team preview, the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers have had many years of success recently, but they have not won a Super Bowl since 2010. After firing head coach Mike McCarthy following the 2018 season, Green Bay is now in the NFC Championship game for the second year in a row. Many attribute the teams success to their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks of this era. This year he has Davante Adams at wide receiver as one of his favorite targets, and Aaron Jones at running back to help keep the offense from being one-dimensional. During the regular season the Pack went 13-3, starting the season with a four game winning streak and ending the year on a six game win streak. They became the NFC North division champions and clinched the first seed in the NFC playoffs, and the only bye for the NFC. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, they faced the Los Angeles Rams, a team that had one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Packers were victorious nonetheless, winning 32-18. Now Green Bay wants to make right the disastrous NFC Championship game from last year, and add to their storied franchises legacy.

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Now, for my predictions.

The NFC Championship game is a rematch from a game played during the regular season. In that game the Bucs beat the Packers 38-10. In my mind this is a revenge game for Green Bay. Tampa Bay proved that losing to a team in the regular season does not prove that means the outcome would be the same in the playoffs. I expect these two quarterbacks to put on an amazing performance, but I think the Green Bay Packers will be victorious with the final score being 35-31.

Similar to the NFC, the AFC Championship game is also a rematch from the regular season. In week six Kansas City beat Buffalo by a score of 26-17. Unfortunately for the Bills, I expect the outcome to be the same for this matchup. The Chiefs’ offense is too high powered to be stopped, and the Bills’ starting running back has been hurt – turning them into a one-dimensional team. Now, Patrick Mahomes is in concussion protocol, but I fully expect him to play in this game. Should that not be the case, I would favor Buffalo. However, everything I’ve seen points to Mahomes playing, so I have the Chiefs winning with the final score being 31-27.

As said in my predictions above, I think for Super Bowl LV it will be a rematch of the first Super Bowl and the Green Bay Packers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Now all we have to do is wait for the weekend to see if my predictions are correct.

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