conference championship Double
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers
Tom Brady’s Buccaneers travel to Lambeau Field for what looks set to be a classic showdown with MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. A shot at the Super Bowl awaits the winner.
The two sides met in Tampa back in week 5 in what proved to be a rout with the Buccaneers humbling a then 4-0 Packers in a comfortable 38-10 victory. That was easily Green Bay’s worst performance of the season and it’s difficult to know how much attention to pay to what was surely just a freakishly bad day at the office for Rodgers and the Packers. Conditions at Lambeau Field will be a different world to what the two teams faced in Tampa, with freezing cold temperatures and potential snow on the agenda. That shouldn’t be an issue for Brady who has seen it all before but many on this Buccaneers roster will be facing conditions alien to them.
This Green Bay offense might be the best in the league right now, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams appear to have an unstoppable, almost telepathic connection and with a useful string rounding off the receiving corps they might fancy their chances against this young Tampa Bay secondary. The Packers showed last week against the Rams that they can be lethal on the ground as well, they employed a trio of running backs in Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon and they had a field day behind their imposing offensive line. The Rams gamebreaker on defense Aaron Donald clearly wasn’t healthy which no doubt played a role, but it was still a seriously impressive display by the men up front for the Packers. The Buccaneers defense though has been phenomenal against the run this season, giving up the least yards on the ground in the NFL (80.6 yards per game). The battle on the ground is going to be huge here.
Tampa Bay possess an embarrassment of riches in their receiving corps but they go in to this one without the resurgent Antonio Brown, this is no doubt a blow to this offense but with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin amongst others, there are still high class weapons at the red-hot Tom Brady’s disposal. Green Bay’s secondary is a useful unit, led by the brilliant Jaire Alexander who will be flying high off the back of a towering display against the Rams. Green Bay’s Achilles heel on defense comes against the run and they face an intriguing Buccaneers running attack. Leonard Fournette hasn’t lived up to the reputation that saw him go 4th overall in the 2017 draft, but he had his best day in a Tampa Bay jersey by some distance against a sturdy Washington defense and he’ll share carries with the useful Ronald Jones. This duo has to like their chances of getting rolling behind a high quality offensive line.
Both of these offenses have been playing at a seriously high level in recent weeks led by two of the finest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. This feels like an end-to-end shootout. Back over 52 points, widely available at 10/11. AJ Dillon anytime touchdown is also worth a look at 6/1 (Unibet), as he becomes more involved in this offense and proved his ability to get into the endzone in a monstrous display against the Titans in week 16.
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
Not many pundits would have predicted the Bills being in the AFC Championship game before the season started as question marks hung over the head of quarterback Josh Allen, he silenced his doubters in emphatic fashion with some scintillating displays throughout the regular season. There were no such questions around the league’s highest paid player Patrick Mahomes and he shakes off a concussion scare to feature in this one.
The Bills have perhaps ridden their luck in the playoffs so far with some huge defensive stands around their own endzone helping them along the way. A 101-yard pick-six last week against the Ravens being the highlight of a much-improved redzone defense which has given up only two touchdowns in eight redzone possessions in the postseason. That pick-six turned a potential 10-10 into a 17-3 lead before Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson left the game through injury shortly after. The worry here is that in the Chiefs they face an offense that surely won’t be as wasteful if given the redzone opportunities afforded to the Colts and Ravens. Even more of a worry for the Bills is that the Chiefs managed to get a running game rolling last week and first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns to bolster them further in this area, this is undoubtedly the Bills weakness and if the Chiefs can establish a ground game again to compliment the passing game led by Mahomes and his favourite targets Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill then it could be a long night for the Bills defense. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins potentially returns here as well, and he historically saves his best work for the playoffs.
The brilliant Bills offense of the regular season hasn’t quite fired yet in the offseason. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has still been a standout but there is a worry around the fitness of his receiving partner Cole Beasley. Beasley has featured in both playoff games, but he saw only two targets for zero receptions last week against the Ravens and the knee injury he has been struggling with was surely a factor in his lack of action. The weakness in this Chiefs defense lies in the secondary and such a key receiving weapon being less than 100% is a serious blow to a Bills team which simply does not possess a running game worth mentioning. They’re going to need Allen and Diggs to be firing on all cylinders as it’s difficult to see the Bills, or any team for that matter holding down this Chiefs offense.
The Chiefs showed last week before losing Mahomes to injury that this offense is beginning to roll again. Take them to see off this Buffalo team fairly comfortably and back the Chiefs -3.5, available with multiple firms at evens.
Over 52 Points – Buccaneers @ Packers – 10/11 (Widely Available)
Chiefs – 3.5 – Evens (Widely Available)
Double pays 2.81/1 (£20 pays £76.36)
Single – AJ Dillon Anytime Touchdown – 6/1 (Unibet)
MICHAEL’S INTEREST IN THE NFL BECAME AN OBSESSION ONCE HIS ATTENDANCE AT SUNDAY DINNER WAS NO LONGER MANDATORY. HE FOLLOWS THE RAVENS AND HAS A SOFT SPOT FOR THE DOLPHINS. YOU CAN FIND HIM ON TWITTER @NORBURYMIKE