The Divisional round pretty much went as expected. All four teams I predicted to win did just that, covering three of the four spreads along the way.
It would have been a perfect run, but Kansas City lost Patrick Mahomes midway through the 3rd quarter. After his departure, the Chiefs managed only a field goal and had to fight to the final whistle. That’s Football—there are no guarantees, every team is beatable on any given Sunday, and it only gets harder from here on out.
Buffalo, who Kansas City will play Sunday (24), squeaked by Baltimore 17 to 3. It was a close-fought game, and it looked as if the Ravens were going to tie it at 10 late in the game when Lamar Jackson decided to become part of history by throwing an end-zone interception that was returned for a 101-yard touchdown. Instead of it being 10 – 10, it was 17 – 3, and the game was over. It has been stated that Jackson can’t win big games; this was another.
Buffalo made some history as well—they are the first playoff team to never attempt a run play in the 1st quarter of a game. As interesting as this sounds, it is not a recipe for winning. If Buffalo fails to run the ball against the Chiefs or in the Superbowl, they will lose.
On the other side in the NFC, Green Bay took care of Los Angeles. As predicted, Aaron Rodgers made the plays he needed to make, and they won the game. I do not think anyone was surprised by the fact the Packers won by 14 at home.
Finally, there was the game between the Saints and the Buccaneers, in what would most likely be the final game between two of the greatest ever to play, Brees and Brady. Combined, their age was 85. This game came down to execution. The Saints didn’t execute; the Buccaneers did. Was this Drew Brees’ final game? Only he knows that, and if it was, it is one he will want to forget but never will be able to. After the game was over and there are clips on various media outlets, Brady and Brees met on the field long after all the fans were gone. They chatted, and Tom threw the ball to Drew’s kids for a minute. It was nice to see. Like I said last week for football fans, this game was to be cherished. When it was 20 to 20, in the fourth quarter, I honestly wanted time to stop. But that’s the cruelness and beauty of life. Sometimes more than one team deserves to win!
Tampa Bay will now head to Green Bay to play Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, in another game we should cherish. This will be the first time these two greats have met in a playoff game. Coincidently both sets of teams played each other in the regular season. Tampa Bay beat Green Bay 38 to 10 on the road in week six, and Kansas City beat Buffalo 26 to 17 that same week. So these teams are currently familiar with each other. Will the results be the same? We will find out Sunday (24)!
Players of the week (Divisional Round)
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
23/36 COMP, 296 YDS, 3 TOTAL TDs
Travis Kelce. TE, Kansas City Chiefs
8 REC, 109 YDS, 1 TD
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Defense
3 INT’s & 1 FUM RECOVERY
AFC & NFC Championship Picks (5 – 5 Playoff Total 3 – 1 Last Week)
#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ #1 Green Bay Packers
It’s simple, this game comes down to execution. Both of these teams have executed at a high level for quite some time now. Both teams have pro bowlers on both sides of the ball. Green Bay has won seven games in a row, Tampa Bay has won six in a row and they have both put up some major points in doing so. The weather could play a factor as it’s one of the coldest stadiums at the coldest times of the year. There is snow in the forecast for Sunday (24). This won’t bother the Packers, and it won’t bother Brady, as the weather helped him multiple AFC championship games in frigid Foxborough. The concern is how it will affect the rest of the Tampa Bay team, only used to warm weather and never this deep into the playoffs. Tampa Bay was able to steal the game against New Orleans because they stole the ball from the Saints four times. Most likely, whoever wins the turnover battle here will win the game. Logic would dictate the Packers are the team to pick here. At home, weather conditions they can deal with, MVP Aaron Rodgers at the helm. The thing is, Tom Brady has been in this game 13 times before, that’s almost an entire season of Football in the conference championship game. This team believes in him, and now they believe in themselves. He and the Buccaneers find a way!
#2 Buffalo Bills @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs
This game is difficult to pick as of right now, so there is an asterisk (*). Patrick Mahomes is in concussion protocol, and he must pass several tests to be cleared to play. I’m taking the Chiefs in a tight game if he plays; I’m taking the Bills if he doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. Patrick Mahomes is something special, and Kansas City can’t win this football game without him. They squeaked by Buffalo by nine in the regular season with him playing a full game. Buffalo has its problems as well. The Bills cannot run the ball, or so it would seem, they only ran for 32 total yards against the Ravens. The Chiefs can run the ball, which is essential at this time of the year, and more importantly, if your starting quarterback is banged up. I believe Mahomes will play, and I think that the Chiefs will cover the spread for the first time in about 10 games, mainly because it’s so low. This is the Chiefs’ third straight trip to the AFC championship game and Buffalo’s first in over two decades. Experience wins this one!