NFL conference championships preview


That’s the theme of the two conference title games. Both are rematches. The Bucs routed the Packers 38-10 and the Chiefs beat the Bills 26-17 in the regular season.

The big question is whether the team that won the regular season game will prevail in the conference title game.

The other big question is whether the two home teams will win. This is the first year that the only teams to get the bye were the first seeds. That should give the Packers and Chiefs an advantage.

—There are interesting quarterback matches in both games. The Bucs-Packers game features two aging veterans heading to the HOF – Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The Chiefs-Bills game features two young guns who are likely to be dueling each other for the next decade long after Brady and Rodgers are retired – Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Mahomes has the most at stake this weekend. A victory and he goes for his second Super Bowl title in a row, and if he pulls that off again next year, he will attempt to become the first quarterback to threepeat in the Super Bowl era. The Chiefs also have to give him the best chance of staying healthy and not call any risky option plays that resulted in a concussion last week. Mahomes probably shouldn’t be playing because players who suffer concussions are in more danger of suffering another one. But there was no way Mahomes was going to be held out of this game. If he is not injured again, the Chiefs figure to win. Rodgers figures to have the edge on Brady, who is 43 but Rodgers is missing two starting offensive linemen so that may be a problem. Rodgers has more at stake because he has won only one Super Bowl and is 1-3 in conference title games. Brady has won six rings so his legacy is set in stone.

—Green Bay usually has a big edge at Lambeau Field in January, especially against a warm weather team. But there won’t be Ice Bowl conditions in Green Bay. The forecast is for the low 30s so weather won’t be a factor. The Bucs, though, have to be concerned about wind because Brady’s arm is no longer what it once was.

—A Tampa Bay victory will give them a shot at becoming the first team to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The 49ers and Rams played Super Bowls in the San Francisco and Los Angeles area but neither played in their home stadium. The 49ers played at Stanford and the Rams at the Rose Bowl. The 49ers won and the Rams lost.

—I’m going with the home teams and with Mahomes and Rodgers.

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