NFL 2020: Conference Championship Week

Well, well, well. It’s conference championship round of the playoffs and, thankfully, the Packers are back in it. Newswise, Phillip Rivers retired (is he HoF worthy? Discuss). The combine will be “altered” thanks to Covid. More coaching hires, including a 6 year contract for Dan Campbell to coach the Lions. Deshaun Watson is still pushing hard for a trade (boy the Texans have just shot themselves in the foot over and over and over). We’ll have the first woman officiating a Super Bowl this year. Idiotic person attempts to grab spotlight (also called “doing a Bayless”) by saying something incredibly stupid ( that the Chiefs/Bills game should be delayed until Mahomes can play). And, most importantly, Patrick Mahomes is still in concussion protocol.

Speaking of Mahomes and actual games, here they are:

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Sunday, January 24, 2020, 2:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers (-3, 51)

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

5:40 p.m.

Buffalo Bills v. Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 54)

Both games are must watch. As far as the NFC game is concerned, the Packers, at home, in January, with a healthy Aaron Rodgers is a tough matchup for anyone. But this game will come down to the Packers defense and its ability to contain the multitude of weapons the Bucs have. If Brady doesn’t play better than he did against the Saints, it could be an easy win, but if he has a bit of magic left, I expect a tighter game. I also want to point out that Jaire Alexander, a Packer CB, has had an amazing year and has established himself as one of the best corners in the NFL. It will be a fun matchup between him and Mike Evans/Chris Godwin. I expect, hope, and pray for a Packer win.

So much of the other game comes down to Mahomes’ injury. If he starts (and it is looking like he will), I expect a Chiefs win. If not, it becomes much more troublesome. Who here has “Chad Henne leads a team to the Super Bowl” on their 2020 Bingo Card? The Chiefs defense isn’t great, so I don’t expect Josh Allen to have as bad a game as he did against the Raverns, but the first time these teams met, the Chiefs held Allen to his worst game of the year, with a 52% completion percentage and a 73.4 passer rating. If they can do that again, the Chiefs could win with Henne even. Personally, I think Allen will fold and the Chiefs roll if Mahomes play. But that’s a big “if”.

Should be an interesting weekend of football. Go Pack Go.

I think Tom Brady demonstrated why he is the GOAT. His first year with the Buccaneers and, bam, they’re in the NFC title game! Do you think they’d be there if they hadn’t signed him? Not a chance.

That being said, I think the Packers at home are too much for even Brady to overcome, but I thought the same thing regarding the Saints in the dome. I’m hoping for a very good game.

It’ll be wintry weather in Green Bay, but not Ice Bowl-level; it’s predicted to snow overnight on Saturday, and into Sunday morning, with a couple of inches in total, but the current forecast indicates that the snow will be letting up by gametime. Temperatures will be in the upper 20s – cold, but not brutally so.

One thing that struck me about the Packers last week, against the Rams, was that the Packers’ offense handled a strong defense very well. It undoubtedly didn’t help Los Angeles that Aaron Donald’s injury was clearly limiting him, but the Rams couldn’t really get to Rodgers, and the offensive line did a good job of run-blocking as well. If they are able to put together a similar effort against another good defense in the Bucs, they should be in good shape.

Desperately want a Bills-Bucs Super Bowl. And to see the Bills defense retire Brady.

I’m not really sure why it’s such a big deal that it’s cold in Wisconsin. We’re talking about Brady here (and Gronk). He played for 20 damn years in Boston! He knows from cold and how to play in it.

This is true; both of those guys have played in cold weather in the past. But, the rest of the team may not have done so often, and they haven’t been practicing in the cold over the past few weeks.

(As a Packer fan, I fondly remember attending the “Snow Bowl” game in 1985, where the Packers hosted the Bucs in a blizzard, and Tampa Bay’s players just wanted to get it over with and get out of there, while the Packers were having a blast in the weather.)

Mahomes says he will play on Sunday.

I just got an email from the Packers, with a link to a “special message” for me, as a season ticket holder. It turned out to be a link to a personalized video message, recorded by Dave Robinson (a linebacker during the Lombardi years), thanking me for my support, and talking about how, even though the players miss having a full house at Lambeau, they’re excited about the championship game. A nice bit of fan appreciation.

That’s pretty cool, kenobi!

The two storylines that the NFL would be hyped to sell:

Chiefs vs. Packers = rematch of the very 1st Super Bowl
Bills vs. Tom Brady

Not sure what storyline the NFL would use to market Bucs vs. Chiefs or Bills vs. Packers.

I would guess that in either case it would be old gun versus young gun, particularly Brady vs Mahomes.

In fact, that’s what it will be in any case. Whether or not it’s hyped that way remains to be seen, but there will be a veteran QB for the NFC vs a young QB for the AFC.

Bills vs. Packers could be marketed as a matchup between two of the NFL’s smallest markets, both of which have very dedicated fan bases.

Reports indicate that the Lions are trying to trade QB Matthew Stafford, at Stafford’s request.

I’ve wondered if he would end up finding his way to Indianapolis. Not sure I’d part with a first-rounder, unless the Colts can find their future in the second or later.

I’m picking Bucs vs. Bills for SB LV. Brady will surprise us in the 4th like the Bucs are used to, although GB is also a great 2nd half team. It’ll be close. For Buffalo, I think they’re really loaded in all positions, especially defense, and will pressure Mahomes more than most teams do.

I was going to look up when the last time both visiting teams won the conference championship games, but then I remembered: Just two years ago, the Patriots won in OT in Arrowhead, and the Rams won in OT in New Orleans.

And GB bad defense on 3rd and 4. Ugh.

I am skeptical of Green Bay being labeled as a small-market team. Technically, yes, Green Bay itself is a tiny town. But the whole of Milwaukee is Packers country. From a market standpoint, it might as well be the Milwaukee Packers. Which makes the market much larger than what “Green Bay” would suggest.

Most of Wisconsin is Packer country, to be sure, but the talking heads always go back to that “NFL’s smallest market” story.

It is early, but the Pack is not looking good. Glad Cozi TV has Office reruns

Brian
Eta ok, a little better now