The NFL season is quickly coming to a close as tomorrow is the last day with multiple games being played. We are down to 4 teams but who is going to emerge victorious? Here are 5 key things to watch for in the Packers/Buccaneers and Bills/Chiefs conference championship games.
Score fast and score early
The Packers have had issues in the past when falling behind early in the game. Just last year they fell behind 27-0 to the 49ers and were never able to recover. In order for Green Bay to advance to the Super Bowl, Rodgers and his offense must score quickly and often to keep the pressure on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense.
Brady is not poised to have a big game passing
Both QBs are future hall of fame members and will have to be kept in check throughout the entire game. Tom Brady was held in check against the Saints last week even though they came out victorious. Brady completed just 54.5% of his passes and was held to 199 yards. He will also be without Antonio Brown as he is listed as “Out” this week due to a knee injury.
The Buccaneers RB’s will have to carry the team
The weather is supposed to be below freezing and snow is forecasted to strike Lambeau Field during the game. Green Bay is used to this kind of weather, as is Tom Brady from his time in New England, but how will that fare for the rest of the Florida based Buccaneers? Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II will have to step up and deliver a rushing performance that we have not seen from them this year.
Packers O-line needs to stand their ground
The Buccaneers were tied for 4th this season with 48 sacks and have Vita Vea returning to their lineup in time for the game. While the Packers were able to stymie Aaron Donald and the Rams defense last week, the Buccaneers are a different kind of evil. Rodgers was sacked 5 times in the previous match-up earlier this year. In order for the Packers to succeed, they need to give Rodgers the most amount of time possible to find his targets.
The Packers found themselves up 10-0 in their regular season game against the Buccaneers but eventually lost the game 38-10 due to a poor offensive showing. The teams combined for 525 total yards in the previous match-up and we are sure to see the same defensive prowess in a snow-covered contest at Lambeau.
Air Raid offense
Kansas City and Buffalo both had explosive offenses this season as they finished the season 1 and 2 in total yards per game. Their passing defenses were both ranked in the middle of the pack though as they as the Bills were ranked 13th overall and the Chiefs were ranked 14th overall. Expect the teams to pass often and for this game to be high scoring.
Keep Mahomes safe
The Chiefs snuck away with a victory last week after veteran QB Chad Henne came in to relieve an injured Mahomes. The Chiefs put up 19 first half points but only managed to secure 3 more points once Henne entered the game. Mahomes did most of the leg work though during that drive and Henne picked up the pieces. If the Chiefs want to make a run at back-to-back Super Bowl victories, they MUST keep Mahomes safe in the pocket.
Contain Stefon Diggs
If the Bills want to win, Stefon Diggs will be their man. When the Bills dropped their regular season match-up to the Chiefs, Diggs was held to 46 receiving yards. If the Bills want to stand a chance against the defending Super Bowl champs, they will need to include Diggs more in the game. Diggs had 6 receptions on 8 targets in the previous match-up so keep an eye out for Allen to target him 12+ times in this contest.
Stop the run
Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire gouged the Bills defense in Week 6 as he posted 161 yards on the ground. While he missed last weeks divisional game against the Browns, Edwards-Helaire is posed to make a comeback this week from a high ankle sprain. Mahomes’ mobility will be limited with a looming toe injury so LSU alumni Darrel Williams could see plenty of touches. Le’Veon Bell is also listed as questionable but should be suited up for the game.
Playing for his Dad
Some players in the past have thrown up monster numbers after personal tragedy and tribulations. Allen’s father was diagnosed with Covid and hospitalized earlier this month. Typically his father travels all over the country to watch his son play but will be limited this week while he is recovering. Allen will have to step up for his father in this one and prove himself once again to be an emerging, elite QB.
The current odds to win the Super Bowl are as follows, based on betting $100 on any team: Packers + $195, Chiefs +$200, Bills + $350, Buccaneers +$450. So if you bet $100 on the Buccs and Tom Brady get’s his 7th ring – you’ll win $450. Interesting bet – eh?
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