NFL Conference Championship Picks - The Final Four
This weekend we will find out who is playing in Super Bowl LV. Will the Kansas City Chiefs get the chance to defend their Lombardi Trophy won last season? Will the Buffalo Bills try to get off the snide of having lost four straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993 a plateau they have not reached since? Can Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl ring as he appears in his 14th conference championship game? For Brady, this is his first NFC title game but it is an amazing statistic that he is playing in his 14th title game in 21 seasons. More amazing is that he has been the quarterback for New England and Tampa making the playoffs 18 times in those 21 seasons.
Brady has only missed the postseason as a starting quarterback twice in his career, in 2008 even though the Patriots finished 11-5, and 2002 with a 9-7 record. In his rookie season of 2000 when Drew Bledsoe was the QB, New England also failed to make the playoffs as the team finished 5-11. To reach his 9th Super Bowl Brady and the Buccaneers will have to defeat the red hot Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers very much wants to win his second Super Bowl as so many writers are indicating he needs to do to cement his legacy.
In Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes continues to work towards healing from a concussion that knocked him out of the divisional playoff victory over Cleveland so without him, can Chad Henne replace him with a victory? Both games are exceptional matchups and for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, they are getting a double whammy of former Black and Gold players who now will have an impact on both games.
In Green Bay, Antonio Brown has become a major weapon for Tom Brady. In Kansas City, Le’Veon Bell will play a vital part in the Chiefs’ running game. Last week I thought Baltimore would upend the Bills but Buffalo continues to impress as they have done all season. I also picked Drew Bress and company to get past Tampa, but like the Cleveland/Pittsburgh game, no one expected the performance put out by the Saints. I did pick the Chiefs and Packers as winners and now it’s down to just two predictions.
Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs
At the time of this writing, Patrick Mahomes had taken part in Kansas City’s Wednesday practice. But he is still under concussion protocol. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is also questionable for the Chiefs. Without knowing whether Mahomes will play or not, that forces two predictions. With him and without him because that makes a major difference. The Bills are no joke and have proven that. They have terrific offensive weapons and are a very strong defensive team.
The Kansas City Chiefs do not match up defensively with Buffalo in my estimation and are a little ahead offensively. Make no mistake, the Bills can score. With Patrick Mahomes under center, I believe this could be a shootout. If Chad Henne takes the reigns, that favors Buffalo mightily. So one of the two following predictions will ring true as to who wins the game.
Prediction (with Patrick Mahomes): Chiefs 37, Bills 34. Prediction (without Mahomes): Bills 27, Chiefs 17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Green Bay Packers
Both teams are very talented on both sides of the ball. I think the Bucs defense is better and they may also have a few better weapons offensively than does Green Bay. As much as I don’t like Tom Brady, anyone who also does not favor the former Patriots quarterback has to respect what he has done. For me, he’s just not likable but to have played in 14 conference championships in 21 seasons and missing the playoffs just twice? That’s remarkable. It will probably not ever be done again. Is he the greatest quarterback of all time? On a talent level, I don’t think he is. On a winner’s level, there can be no argument there.
Tom Brady has the most Super Bowl rings in history. All he knows is winning. He gets up for big games and for Packers fans, that’s a scary thought. Aaron Rodgers while one of the best quarterbacks ever, is not up to the pressure level that Brady can play under. For this game, even though it is a road game, my gut is saying Brady will find a way to win this game.
On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers’ determination to get to another Super Bowl is something to consider. I believe this game is going to be like a heavyweight boxing match. It should be very physical and if Tampa prevails, they will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their stadium. If that becomes the case, unfortunately, there won’t be full capacity on hand due to COVID. I think in the end, Green Bay will be able to put enough pressure on Tom Brady to force him into a sub-par game.
Prediction: Packers 34, Bucs 28.