NFL Conference Championships preview: Chiefs/Packers move on

by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports

The NFL conference championship games kickoff this afternoon with contests featuring four of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Here is a look at each matchup with some fantasy picks as well:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 3:05pm FOX

The playoff matchup we never thought we would get is finally here: Tom Brady will travel to Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Tampa Bay won the regular season matchup between these two teams, handing Green Bay a 38-10 loss. The defeat was the worst of the regular season for Rodgers and the Packers.

Brady and the Buccaneers upset #2 New Orleans to advance to Sunday’s NFC Championship game. In his first season in Tampa Bay Brady was at his finest, tossing 40 touchdown passes including two last week against New Orleans.

Aaron Rodgers should be this year’s NFL MVP. If there was any doubt Rodgers seemed to put that rest in the Packers’ win over the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round. Facing a vaunted Rams pass rush, Rodgers still totaled 296 passing yards, two touchdowns a quarterback of 108.1.

Rodgers’ favorite target Davante Adams got into the end zone against Los Angeles but was most ineffective against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Adams, who broke the Packers single-season record for touchdowns and receiving yards, should have an easier time against a Tampa Bay secondary that has been inconsistent this season. The Buccaneer defense did sack Rodgers five times during the Week 6 loss so there is a recipe for success against the quarterback.

Green Bay’s running game could also be the difference in Sunday’s contest. Don’t forget about Green Bay running back Aaron Jones who finished with 99 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Rams. Jones has his eye on a lucrative deal in the offseason so the three-year veteran will not be light on motivation this weekend.

Green Bay will enter Sunday’s matchup as a favorite according to Vegas, but who wants to bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs? I did last week and it didn’t turn out well. Sorry Tom, prove me wrong again this week.

Fantasy picks: Via Fanduel Sportsbook

Davante Adams over 89.5 yards

Aaron Jones over 61.5 rushing yards

Rob Gronkowski over 28.5 yards

Over total points 52

Prediction: Green Bay 30, Tampa Bay 23

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 6:40pm CBS

The AFC Championship game will see the reigning Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are definitely no strangers to this stage of the postseason having won three consecutive AFC Championships in the early 90’s. But Sunday will be a much different feel for the visiting Bills.

The two teams met week six, a matchup that ended with a Chiefs’ win. Buffalo seems to be hitting its stride at the right time leading some pundits to believe a Super Bowl trip could be well within reach for the Bills.

Kansas City got some great news yesterday when quarterback Patrick Mahomes was cleared for Sunday’s game after going through the league’s concussion protocol this week. However, reports also mention a possible turf toe injury that was diagnosed following the Cleveland game. Mahomes, the NFL’s regular season and postseason all-time passer rating leader, was on his way to another stellar performance against the Browns before leaving the game in the third quarter. Mahomes will have two of the top three pass catchers in the game in wide receiver Tyreke Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

Buffalo counters with the duo of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, who connected for a touchdown against the Ravens in the divisional round. Allen, who entered the regular season with questions about his long-term future in Buffalo, has answered critics throwing for a career-high 7 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions two years removed from a 10-touchdown, 12-interception season in 2018.

Buffalo does a tremendous job of preventing the big play with a secondary led by Virginia Tech alum ____Edmunds. In the first game Kansas City used their ground game to open up the Buffalo defense. With a hampered Patrick Mahomes, expect to see a little more of the same today.

Fantasy picks: FanDuel Sportsbook

Chiefs (-3)

Total points (under 54.5)

Travis Kelce (Anytime touchdown scorer)

Josh Allen- passing yards (Under 302.5)

Prediction: Kansas City 30, Buffalo 20