Only four teams remain as we look ahead to championship Sunday in the NFL. Concussion permitting, the AFC Championship game will showcase two of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the NFL when Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen face off at Arrowhead for the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills.
While in the NFC, two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game will do battle when Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady lead the Packers and the Buccaneers onto Lambeau field for the NFC Championship game.
Here’s where the remaining four NFL teams stand ahead of Sunday’s conference championships:
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Super Bowl Odds: +210
Previous Rank: 2
Green Bay are back to the No. 1 spot in the SportsTips’ NFL Power Rankings after their 32-18 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Coming up against a ferocious (albeit bruised) Rams’ defense, the Packers were exemplary in every aspect of Saturday’s game.
On offense, Aaron Rodgers threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns (finding Davante Adams and Allen Lazard) while Aaron Jones picked up 99 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
However most impressively, Green Bay’s offensive line didn’t allow a single sack against the Rams No. 1 ranked pass rush. Green Bay will host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday in the NFC Championship game. The Buccaneers won their last matchup 38-10 in Week 6.
Aaron Rodgers got Leonard Floyd in the air with the pump fake 👀
— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2021
2. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
Super Bowl Odds: +210
Previous Rank: 1
Chad Henne was the unlikely hero of the Chiefs 22-17 Divisional Round victory over the Cleveland Browns. Up 19-10 with seven minutes to play in the third quarter, Kansas City were in cruise control as Patrick Mahomes looked to run on 3rd-and-1.
After taking a hit from Cleveland’s Mack Wilson, Mahomes was slow to return to his feet and needed assistance by his teammates and medical staff to stand up. The reigning Super Bowl MVP was then taken into the medical tent where he was eventually ruled out of the game with a concussion.
With backup quarterback Chad Henne stepping in to replace Mahomes, the Browns pegged the game back to 22-17 before Henne and head coach Andy Reid combined for two spectacular plays and play calls to seal the game.
Given that Mahomes’ status for next Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Bills is unclear, the Packers joined the Chiefs as the +210 favourites to win the Super Bowl and surpassed Kansas City for the No. 1 spot in the SportsTips’ NFL Power Rankings.
In Week 6, the Chiefs beat the Bills 26-17 in Buffalo with Mahomes throwing for 225 yards and two touchdowns, and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushing for a career high 161 yards. Edwards-Helaire will also be entering the AFC Championship game under an injury cloud, after injuring his ankle in Week 15.
CHAD HENNE TAKES IT HIMSELF 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 17, 2021
3. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Super Bowl Odds: +325
Previous Rank: 3
The Bills did what they needed to do in their Divisional Round matchup against the Ravens, securing a berth in the AFC Championship game with a 17-3 victory.
As was the case in their Wild Card Weekend win against the Colts, Buffalo had inferior passing yards, rushing yards, first downs and was in possession for substantially less time than their opponents.
However, the Bills defense once again made big plays in the red zone, restricting Baltimore to 0-3 red zone conversions, which included a 101-yard pick-six from cornerback Taaron Johnson.
If the Bills do face Patrick Mahomes (suffered a concussion vs the Browns) when they take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead in next week’s AFC Championship Game, Buffalo’s ability to negate Kansas City’s elite red zone offense (59 red zone trips, 36 TDs at 61%) will play a huge roll in the Bills likelihood of progressing to the Super Bowl.
Josh Allen will also have to continue his MVP calibre run to give Buffalo a chance, having only thrown for 122 yards two touchdowns and an interception in the Bills 17-26 loss to the Chiefs in their most recent matchup (Week 6).
TARON JOHNSON PICK SIX‼️
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 17, 2021
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
Super Bowl Odds: +425
Previous Rank: 5
Despite being embarrassed in their two regular season matchups against New Orleans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got the last laugh with a 30-20 victory over the Saints in Sunday’s Divisional Round clash.
43 year old Tom Brady (199 yards, two touchdowns) got the better of 42 year old Drew Brees (134 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions) in what may have been their last head to head matchup.
However, Tampa Bay’s defense was the most dominant unit on the field, forcing four Saints turnovers throughout the game. Buccaneers line-backer Devin White, finished with 11 tackles (10 solo), a tackle for loss, a QB hit, a pass breakup, a fumble recovery and an interception against New Orleans on Sunday.
Defense was also the dominant force in the Bucs 38-10 Week 6 victory over the Packers. Tampa Bay sacked Aaron Rodgers four times while also intercepting him twice on their way to holding Green Bay to a season-low 10 points.
The Buccaneers secondary will need more of the same when they face the Packers at Lambeau field next Sunday, in what will be Tom Brady’s 14th conference title game appearance.
— NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2021
*Odds correct at time of publication.
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Image by: Mike Morbeck