What more would you like me to say about the NFC Championship Game in this week’s column? You already know who I’m picking…(as if the title of this column didn’t give it away).
Those of you who read Cohen’s Corner every week know that I’m a biased Packers fan and absolutely won’t be picking against them this weekend.
Either way, I think both Tampa Bay – Green Bay and Buffalo – Kansas City are fascinating matchups. For all that the NFL has gone through this year with COVID protocols and missed games and other craziness, I have no issue whatsoever with these four teams being the last ones standing.
I plan on keeping this column shorter than most…my score predictions are below and a paragraph rationale for each game will be provided. But I picked the Packers and Chiefs a few weeks ago, why would I turn back now?
CONFERENCE Championship Round PREDICTIONS
Last Week: 3-1 Straight Up (SU), 3-1 Against the Spread (ATS), 2-2 Over/Under (OU)
Playoffs: 7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS, 3-7 OU
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
GREEN BAY PACKERS 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
(ATS: Packers -3.5, Over 51)
What an epic QB matchup, Brady vs. Rodgers…the GOAT (Brady) vs. who I consider to be the most talented QB I’ve ever seen (Rodgers). In Week 6, the Bucs thoroughly wrecked Green Bay 38-10, after the Packers seemed to be in cruise control up 10-0 in the first quarter. While the weather on Sunday won’t be ideal as it was last time (snow is in the forecast), both of these quarterbacks are among the best ever dealing with inclement conditions. The reason I’m picking Green Bay this time, outside of my homerism, is because I have a hard time seeing Tampa slow down Rodgers for a second time. I know it’s a pretty simple / logical reason…but honestly it’s the truth. It’s fair to say Green Bay’s #12 is playing at the highest level of his career – through 17 games he’s accounted for 50 TDs through the air and 4 more on the ground. That’s otherworldly. Tom Brady hasn’t been chopped liver for the Bucs but if Green Bay can pressure him early and often, Tampa’s #12 doesn’t have the escapability to succeed. Look for a higher scoring, thoroughly entertaining game but I’m extremely confident the Packers win and cover the 3.5 point spread. Oh, and by the way, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium…so that’s another angle working against the Bucs.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 27, Buffalo Bills 23
(ATS: Chiefs -3, Under 54)
I’m sorry Bills fans…I really, really wanted to pick your team to win but I’m not buying that Patrick Mahomes’ injuries are that critical and will hamper him that much. I didn’t see the Bills defense dominating over Lamar Jackson and the Ravens last week but the stifling winds in Buffalo helped considering Jackson is a below average passer. While Josh Allen has taken his game to another level in 2020-21, I have a hard time thinking he’s ready to beat Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. I have to admit I was absolutely wrong about Allen before the 2019 draft; I thought he had serious bust potential and apparently I was way off. On another random note…isn’t it crazy to think that this is KC’s 3rd straight year hosting the AFC title game? It’s not inconceivable to think that long term, Mahomes might be the only QB to come within a snowball’s throw of Brady’s seemingly unbreakable 14 conference championship games. One thing that concerns me about KC is they have only covered one spread since October and it was by half a point in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Buffalo should be on a 12 game winning streak if not for the ‘Hail Murray’ in Glendale. When the two teams played on a Monday in Week 6, ironically the day after the Bucs-Packers matchup, it was an ugly, lifeless game where Allen played arguably his worst game of the season. Look for him to play significantly better and have the lead into the 4th quarter before Mahomes leads a game winning drive to send the Chiefs to their second straight Super Bowl. I’m bucking the trends here which point to Buffalo and honestly I don’t feel that great about it either.
Championship Round Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 10-9): Packers -3.5 (BEST BET alert)
Underdog (WIN, 11-8): N/A
Bet the Over (LOSS, 7-12): Packers / Bucs Over 51
Bet the Under (WIN, 10-8-1): Chiefs / Bills Under 54