NFL Playoff Picks: Conference Championships

There are only three games left in the NFL season, and two of them are on Sunday as the Packers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Bills battle to decide who gets to play in Super Bowl LV, which somehow is not being staged in the Raiders’ new stadium.

Joe nailed all four winners last week to open up a lead over John, who inexplicably won every game except for his two-point Lock of the Week. Will Joe clinch the contest this week, or will John fight his way back into contention?

NFC Championship: #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #1 Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 3:05 p.m.)

Joe: Out of the goodness of my heart, I told John I’d go first so he could make his picks accordingly. Just to be sporting about it and all.

Before the playoffs started, I picked Tom Brady to walk into Lambeau Field and walk out with a victory. Why change that pick now?

Well, for one thing, I thought that game would happen in the Divisional Round (thanks, Seahawks). For another thing, I’ve now gotten to see the Buccaneers play the last two weeks, and I have to admit, I haven’t been impressed. Brady will be right at home in the cold weather, but I’m not sure he’s going to be able to outlast future Jeopardy! guest host Aaron Rodgers in this one.

One more thing: quarterback experience is always important. This is Rodgers’ fifth trip to the title game, but Tom Brady has never played in a single NFC Championship Game. ::taps forehead:: Pick: Packers (lock)

John: I picked against Tampa Bay last week. I was burnt. I’ll pick against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers without hesitation this week. Brady may take this personally and make me rue those words, but I’ll make this pick with the confidence of a Jake Elliott extra pointer: the odds are heavily in my favor…although the misses could last longer in my mind than the hits. 

A-A-ron Rodgers has been on a mission all year. His offense wields more firepower than Brady’s. I can’t see Rodgers losing an NFC championship game at Lambeau Field, but his rival QB is perhaps the only NFL player who feeds off more spite than he does. Look for the Pack to win this, but Brady to make me feel a little uncomfortable about this pick in the fourth quarter. Pick: Packers (lock)

AFC Championship Game: #2 Buffalo Bills at #1 Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 6:40 p.m.)

Joe: This is the game we all wanted to see. Well, this and Chiefs-Ravens (thanks, Browns). The Bills have seemed like a team of destiny lately, on a path to erasing two decades of pain en route to a meeting with the Four Horsemen of Those Super Bowls They Lost All in a Row.

But what always stands in the way of destiny? A lot of Eagles fans will tell you it’s Andy Reid, but I was going to say greatness. And that’s what the Chiefs are: they are a potential dynasty in the making, with the most exciting player to come into the league in recent memory at the controls of an offense built by one of the two best coaches of the past 25 years (do not, under any circumstances, @ me).

Except…the Chiefs just haven’t seemed right, have they? Forget the Mahomes injury – don’t believe for a second that there is a chance he won’t play – they haven’t quite found that extra gear we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the past couple years. On the other hand, it just feels like the Bills have what I can only describe as “it.”

The Chiefs should win this game. But I am picking the two snowiest teams in the NFL to head to Tampa for the Super Bowl. Pick: Bills

John: No Mahomes? No problem. Kansas City’s biggest piece was knocked out of last week’s game and yet the Chiefs still managed to escape with Chad Henne’s game-clinching first down. The epic play was not only a gutsy call from coach Andy Reid, but also served notice that Chad Henne is still in the league. Seriously, prior to 2020 Henne had not started an NFL game since 2014. 

The Chiefs should beat the Bills at home, but no one should take this one for granted. Buffalo is a formidable opponent and all expectations are for this to be a fantastic football game. 

The top two teams in the AFC are facing each other. Reid and his former coordinator Sean McDermott are patrolling the sidelines. Look out for some of the best football you’ll watch this season. Pick: Chiefs

Last Week: Joe: 5-0 (1-0); John: 3-2 (0-1)

Playoffs: Joe: 10-2 (2-0); John: 8-4 (1-1)

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