The penultimate weekend of the season sets two seasoned vets against each other in the NFC, while youth is the story of the AFC Championship Game.
And then there were four. Tampa, Green Bay, Buffalo and Kansas City; the final four teams remaining in the 2020 playoffs. All four will face off this Sunday in their respective conferences with a trip to Super Bowl 55 on the line. No team has ever played in a Super Bowl when their city has been hosting the event and Tampa Bay will be aiming to be the first.
Following on from the Divisional round last week, where the four favourites progressed, this week is a little bit tougher to call. The order of the Championship games rotates year on year with the NFC playing in the early window this year followed by the AFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady. Two of the most celebrated and talked about Quarterbacks in NFL history face off on the historic grounds of Lambeau Field. For Green Bay, it is a second NFC Championship Game in as many years. While for Tampa Bay, its been 18 long years, 2002, since their playoff run ran this deep – A year in which they would be the eventual winners of the Lombardi trophy.
These sides met earlier in the season with the Bucs laying down a statement victory, winning 38-10. It was a day to forget for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers who faltered on offense. Rodgers threw for 160 yards, his second lowest tally of the season. For those Bucs fans hopeful of a repeat, I wouldn’t be so certain that it will be as one sided this time round.
The Packers are on a trailblazing run of form and Aaron Rodgers has been playing at an MVP level for much of the season. Davante Adams has quickly emerged as the best receiver in football and lining up against the Bucs youthful, speedy defence will be a matchup worth keeping an eye on. The Buccaneers linebacker group has made a name for itself across the league and will be an exciting matchup against Aaron Jones and the Packers backfield.
The history of these two quarterbacks alone is enough to make this a noteworthy fixture, but with two well rounded rosters and offensively minded head coaches, this game has all the ingredients to become an instant classic.
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
These two franchises are led by young, motivated, and massively talented Quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes already has a Super Bowl ring and league MVP to his name. Josh Allen is the standout performer of the 2018 draft class where he was drafted alongside Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, among others.
While it is still not certain who will Quarterback the Chiefs this weekend, Patrick Mahomes has yet to be ruled out at the time of writing following a neck injury in last week’s divisional game.
As far as the AFC playoff picture goes, this is likely to be a repeat fixture for years to come. With youth being on the side of AFC Quarterbacks, and a crop of highly talented players set to grace the conference for years to come, this may only be the beginning of a dominant few decades to come.
As for this game, well, if it gets anywhere close to the hype its being given then it will be a game to remember. The Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection has been a pertinent fixture in the Bills success this season. However, perhaps not talked about enough is the Bills defence and the opportunities they create for the team – I believe the matchup against this versatile Kansas offense welcomes an exciting prospect for fans.
With Kansas City being allowed to host fans in their stadium, for one of the first times this season home-field advantage may influence the outcome of this game.
With the Super Bowl just two weeks away, getting through this weekend unscathed by injuries is vitally important for carrying success through to the biggest day in the League’s calendar. We as fans can expect an all-out, everything on the line performance from these teams this weekend and as a result some spectacular football will be played. Regardless of who wins, one thing that is perfectly clear is that we are witnessing a passing of the guard between the old and the young in this League and what we’ve seen so far bodes well for the future.