2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Games Preview and Bettor’s Guide
LOS ANGELES — The 2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Games are set. The narratives are already being written. Short backstory: Back in the 1960s, the American Football League was the upstart that took on the established National Football League. Eventually, the leagues decided to combine. Most of the AFL became the American Football Conference (AFC) while most of the NFL became the National Football Conference (NFC). That dramatic AFL-NFL merger created the modern NFL.
Young Guns vs Old Timers
In the 2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Games, the starring NFL quarterbacks reflect how the old is taking on the new. In the AFC, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs this year showcase young guns Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers offer grizzled veterans Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
All four franchises offer some firsts. The Bills reached the AFC Title Game by winning their first playoff game in 25 years. The Chiefs are the very first team to host the AFC Title Game in three consecutive seasons. Even though QB Tom Brady led New England to eight straight AFC Title Games, he never played three title games in a row at home. Brady’s final AFC Title Game victory was an overtime victory over Mahomes in Kansas City.
This year, Brady finds himself in the playoffs for the 18th straight season. He has led his teams to a winning record for 20 straight seasons. Yet this is his very first year with the Buccaneers. After all those AFC Title Games, this upcoming post-season battle marks his first NFC Title Game.
Aaron Rodgers is playing in an NFC Title Game for the fourth time in his career and for the second consecutive year. All three of the previous matches were road games. For the first time, Rodgers gets to play the NFC Title Game in the historic frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Baby, it’s cold outside…
Three of the four teams in this year’s 2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Games are cold weather teams. While Tampa offers a contrast as a warm weather city, their new QB, Brady, spent 20 years playing in the New England cold. Football is a cold weather sport, so it seems appropriate that this year’s title games feature four quarterbacks used to cold weather.
Long and colorful team histories
The history of these franchises boasts several important past matchups among these teams. In addition to some unimportant games. During the 10 years of the AFL’s existence, the Chiefs and Bills combined to win half the AFL championships. The Chiefs won it three times. But that said, their first championship was in Dallas in the team’s first incarnation as the Texans.
In 1966, these teams met again in the AFL Championship. At the time, the Bills were the two-time defending AFL champions. But their drive to win three in a row fell short as the Chiefs easily won, 31-7. One week later the Chiefs got trounced by the Green Bay Packers 35-10 in the very first Super Bowl.
In 1993, the Chiefs traveled to Buffalo to face the three-time defending AFC champion Bills. Joe Montana was in his first season with the Chiefs after winning four Super Bowls in San Francisco. On that day in 1993, the Bills won 30-13, becoming AFC champions for an unprecedented fourth straight time. Sadly, their next game would be their fourth straight Super Bowl loss.
Long but less-colorful team stats… until things changed
On the flip side, the Packers and Buccaneers both played so badly for so long that when Green Bay and Tampa Bay played each other, ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman termed their matchup as “The Bay of Pigs.”
But in the 1990s both of these teams gained a superstar. The Packers traded for a raw quarterback from Kiln, Mississippi named Brett Favre. The Buccaneers drafted a talented but troubled defensive tackle named Warren Sapp. These two men developed a fiercely competitive rivalry that gradually became a friendship based on mutual respect. Sapp would belt Favre to the ground and both men would laugh and smile and call each other out before the next play.
Favre led the Packers to a Super Bowl championship in 1996, and Sapp led the Buccaneers to their Super Bowl championship in 2002. Both these teams played against one another twice a year from 1977 through 2000 in the NFC North. At the time, that division often proved so bad that Berman labeled it the NFC Norris Division. His reference was to the NHL’s weakest hockey division.
Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Bouts
This year, both 3032 NFL Conference Title Games are rematches dating from the sixth week of the 2020 regular season. In a tough competitive game, the Chiefs went into Buffalo and beat the Bills 26-17. The Buccaneers fell behind 10-0 in Green Bay before throttling the Packers 38-10.
Brady joins the conversation as one of the greatest NFL players ever at any position. Bettors wager that Rodgers seems the likely 2020 NFL MVP this season. Mahomes currently serves as the 2019 NFL MVP and defending Super Bowl champion. Lacking these honors — thus far — football scribes definitely view Allen as the most improved player on the most improved team.
Shortly, these four teams intend make more NFL history. One of them will hoist the Lamar Hunt Trophy for winning the AFC Championship Game. And one of them will hold up the George Halas Trophy for winning the NFC Title Game.On the first Sunday in February, one of them will finally the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
True, Super Bowl LV (55) is still more than two weeks away. As for now, however, the AFC and NFC Title Games are upon us.
With that, we present our CDN 2020-2021 NFL Conference Title Games Preview and Bettor’s Guide. Point spreads provided by DraftKings.com and all times Eastern. Both games will be played on Sunday, January 24, 2021.
NFC Title Game:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (-4) at 3:00 p.m. on FOX —
Forget their regular season beating. The Packers have the home field for this one. They will finally have a decent amount of fans in attendance. They will also have the cold weather and the snow that has benefitted them since the legendary 1967 Ice Bowl.
The Buccaneers have the better receivers. The Packers have the better running game. Despite the veteran status of both Brady and Rodgers, they are fairly new to their offensive systems. Brady is in his first year under Bruce Arians while Rodgers is in his second year under Matt LaFleur.
The Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl last year. Brady knows cold weather and snow. But go with the team that can pound the rock. Packers win but fail to cover.
AFC Title Game:
Buffalo Bills (13-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) (-3.5) at 6:30 p.m. on CBS —
Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion in the Divisional round. But he will play in the AFC Title Game. The Bills have a great quarterback and a great defense. Yet as long as Mahomes is playing, the Chiefs are unstoppable. They did not punt during their entire Divisional game. One of their two losses came when they played their backups after clinching home field advantage. The Raiders were the only team to beat their starters, and they only did it by outscoring the Chiefs in a shootout. They still could not stop Mahomes.
The Bills don’t seem built for a shootout. Walrus Andy Reid is fearless. With the entire game on the line last week, he gambled on a pass play on fourth and inches in his own territory with a backup quarterback. The Chiefs have too much speed. The Bills need to shorten the game with long drives that keep Mahomes off the field. In three years, the league has still not figured out how to contain Mahomes for an entire game. Chiefs cover.
The final teams going Super Bowl LV: the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Hank Stram and Lamar Hunt are long gone. But the Chiefs will avenge their Super Bowl I loss 54 years later. In the process, Mahomes will become the first quarterback since Brady in 2003-2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls. NFL Conference Title Games
— Headline image: Exterior of Arrowhead Stadium in July 2010, after renovations were completed.
Image by Conman33 via Wikipedia entry on the Kansas City Chiefs. CC 3.0 unported license. Resized to fit CDN format