Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Storylines abound in this week's Conference Championship matchups

Illustration for article titled Storylines abound in this week's Conference Championship matchups

There are four teams left in the quest for the Lombardi, all of whom are playing fantastic football. This weekend, we will have the NFC and AFC Championship games take place, and man are they ripe with storylines. Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers, Rodgers’ first NFC Championship game at home in Lambeau (which seems shocking, but it’s true); Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen, Bills Mafia getting ready to jump through more tables.

This Sunday is going to be awesome.

One of these four things is now guaranteed to happen on Feb. 7 when the Super Bowl concludes:

1. Tom Brady wins his seventh Super Bowl and his first outside of New England, further cementing his status as the GOAT and laying to rest any shadow of a doubt that he was a system quarterback with Bill Belichick.

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2. Patrick Mahomes and Co. win their second Super Bowl in a row, the first repeat victor since New England in 2004 and 2005, immediately launching Mahomes into a Hall of Fame trajectory and setting up a potential dynasty in Kansas City.

3. Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl, his first since 2011, adding to his Hall of Fame resume.

4. Josh Allen leads the Bills to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history after appearing in four consecutive, heartbreaking championship losses in the mid-90s. Western New York will go wild and the town will overflow with beer and Buffalo sauce.

So, who’s going to get to the big game?

Illustration for article titled Storylines abound in this week's Conference Championship matchups
Illustration: Getty Images
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Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, Jan. 24, 3:05 PM EST (FOX)

The Packers come in riding high off their 32-18 victory over the Los Angeles Rams that saw wide receiver Allen Lazard get loose for a 58-yard touchdown reception on his way to a 96 yard day opposite Davante Adams. The Packers looked comfortable in all phases of the game, and never trailed. The Buccaneers had a strong showing themselves, turning over the Saints four times. They also ran for 127 yards on the Saints staunch run defense.

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Green Bay has one decided advantage – the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Tom Brady spent 20 years in New England, and has had more than his share of cold weather playoff games. However, it’s been a year of living in the warm incubator of Tampa Bay. The cold might hit different, and it is going to be cold. In Green Bay, the forecast for Sunday is a high of 29, low of 22, with a possibility of snow. Brady dealing with the weather will be one thing, but what about the rest of his team? What about the skill players that have never made a deep playoff run, like Mike Evans (Texas native), Leonard Fournette (Louisiana native), and Ronald Jones (Georgia native)? This is going to be a classic duel between two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, in a true playoff atmosphere in the frozen tundra of Lambeau. This has the makings of an all-timer. For my money, I’m picking Green Bay.

Illustration for article titled Storylines abound in this week's Conference Championship matchups
Illustration: Getty Images
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Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills

Sunday, Jan. 24, 6:40 PM EST (CBS)

The first game of the day will feature two all-time greats. The second will feature two young superstars. Right now, the biggest question looming over this game is whether Patrick Mahomes will be cleared to play after suffering a nasty concussion last Sunday. Even if he’s cleared, Mahomes is also dealing with a turf toe injury, which could significantly hinder his mobility.

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Matthew Betz, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Physical Therapist and injury expert for The Fantasy Footballers (damn Betz, get a shorter title), brings up a really good point. Mahomes is lethal when he is able to escape, extend plays, and pull a rabbit out of his hat. If he doesn’t have that in his arsenal this weekend, there’s reason for concern. I’m not sure Josh Allen is much worse straight up than Patrick Mahomes. If Mahomes is 90 percent, or 80 percent, or less… are we sure the Chiefs have the better offense? The Bills were second to only the Chiefs in total yards per game, and had the edge in points per game 31.3 to 29.6.

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The defense for both teams have stepped up dramatically in the playoffs. The Bills held Lamar Jackson to only 14/24 passing for 162 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. More importantly, on nine rushing attempts, Lamar was only able to garner 34 yards on the ground. The Bills generated four sacks, and ran the lone interception back for a record-tying 101 yard score. The Chiefs defense was good but not great against the Browns, allowing 14 points in the second half. After Mahomes went down, however, the Browns had their opportunities, aided by a dumb interception from Chad Henne. Cleveland was down only 22-17 with Mahomes in the locker room and a massive momentum-changing interception, and the Chiefs defense stopped the Browns and forced them to punt.

The Bills feel like a team of destiny this year. With Mahomes hobbled if he is even cleared to play, I think the fairy tale could continue for Bills Mafia.

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