AFC and NFC Title Games Preview: Predicting the outcomes of each game

Source%3A+The+Ringer

Source: The Ringer

Siddharth Chandra

This is arguably the most important weekend in the playoffs. It determines what teams will be in contention for the Lombardi, as well as what teams can brag that they are the AFC or NFC champions. In previous years we have had some absolute classics, but there have been also some ugly games. As fans, all we can hope is that our favorite team wins or that the games are entertaining. For each game, I will be giving my thoughts and a small preview.

 

#5 Buccaneers at #1 Packers: Sunday, January 24th 3:05 P.M. EST (FOX)

Buccaneers 24 – Packers 34

This is going to be a hard fought game between these two powerhouses. The Packers have one of the best offenses in the league with lethal combo of Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers. To add onto that mix they also have a solid offensive line with dynamic RB Aaron Jones. The Bucs have to prepare for both the rung game and the passing game of the Packers. The Packers put that on full display week where they were able to run and pass the ball effectively against the Rams. The Packers had 484 yards of offense against the #1 ranked defense of the Rams. This is a bad situation for the Bucs. They are the 6th ranked defense, but they are quite inconsistent. I’ve learned that if they are able to get pressure on the QB, then the defense is effective, but if they fail, then the defense falls apart. This was clear the last time these two teams faced off; Rodgers was constantly pressured and he failed to get much going. The Packers’ defense has also been solid (ranked 9th in the league). They have decent pass rush, which we’ve seen when Brady is pressured he struggles. Matt Lafleur will look for Za’Darius Smith and the Packers d-line to get some pressure on Brady. Jaire Alexander has also been one of the best corners in the league and he will look to shut down Mike Evans. Beyond that they don’t have any other superstars on defense.

The Bucs’ passing offense is as good if not better than the Packers offense. They have the 2nd ranked passing offense with the GOAT at QB. It is incredible what he has been able to do with the Bucs in his first year with them. Sure he struggled at first, but down the stretch he got himself together and started playing amazing. This is one of the best seasons we have seen out of Brady, and it’s even more scary for the Packers to deal with the weapons that the Bucs have. The concern is the production of their WR last weekend, with Evans, Godwin, and AB combining for only 34 yards. There is one glaring problem with this Bucs offense:  the running game. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette have shown signs of promise throughout the season and have done decent throughout the playoffs but they make this offense really one-dimensional. The Packers know that if they can execute on offense and shut down the Bucs’ passing offense, then they have a serious chance to win this game.  However at the end of the day the Packers are the favorites hear, and I have them winning by 10. I don’t think the Bucs will be able to contain the Packers offense and their lack of a running game is really going to kill them here.

 

#2 Bills At #1 Chiefs: Sunday, January 24th 6:40 P.M. EST (CBS)

Bills 34 – Chiefs 28 (OT) 

I think this is going to be first playoff game that goes into OT. It is surprising that we haven’t had a single game go into OT considering how close some of these matchups have been. I’m going to make my prediction on the basis that Patrick Mahomes is going to start for the Chiefs. As of 1/21/21 it is expected that Mahomes will play, however there are no announcements officially saying that he will play. This game is going to involve both of the quarterbacks firing the ball left and right. The Chiefs have the most dynamic passing offense. Ranging from the absolute speed of Tyreek Hill, to the strength of Travis Kelce there is so much that the Bill’s defense needs to prepare for. Tyreek Hill is just so fast that that no corner can keep up with him. The Bills are going to have to double Tyreek Hill 100%. They also have to double Travis Kelce. Otherwise, he will wreak havoc in the middle of the field. This allows the other receivers, such as Mecole Hardman (who is also really fast) to be one on one with DBs and break free. Like the Bucs, the Chiefs don’t have that great of a run game, but they can get it done when needed. The Bills defense has been decent this season, having good games and bad games. Last week, they only let up 3 to the Ravens but let up 42 points to the Titans earlier in the season. Tre’Davious White has been a shutdown corner all seasons but I don’t know what he will be able to do against the Chiefs’ WRs and their speed. Flip that over to the other side of the ball and the Bills have the 2nd most dynamic passing offense. Josh Allen has had breakout season, and part of the reason is Stefon Diggs. In his “breakout” season Diggs has consistently been the go-to guy for Josh Allen. Cole Beasley has been the most underrated receiver in the league, and the best slot receiver this year. He has been a nice compliment to Diggs in the passing game. The rest of the receivers has been solid and help Josh Allen in the passing game. The running game isn’t anything special, about the same as the Chiefs.  The Chiefs are okay on defense; they rank 16th in that aspect. Their two stars are Chris Jones up front and the Honey Badger in the back. They have a lot of solid veterans on the team that have playoff experience. I do have the Bills in for a win here- solely for the fact that the Chiefs haven’t looked great in the past few weeks. Mahomes has struggled, and I think the Josh Allen will have better game because he isn’t going to be coming off an injury.