On Sunday January 24, the NFL Conference Championship games will be played in Kansas City and Green Bay to determine the participants of Super Bowl LV on February 7. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field at 1:05 PM, followed by the Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium at 4:40 PM. Here is a look at what each team must do to secure a win.
#1: Green Bay Packers Keys to Victory
The defense needs to be able to pressure Tom Brady, he’s had 12 interceptions this year, all against defenses who put pressure on him quickly. This includes the saints, who he threw three picks to, if the Packers unstoppable defense can pressure Tom Brady, they should have no problem advancing.
Aaron Rodgers can’t throw easy picks to Tampas Defense, two of Rodgers five interceptions are because of throwing them to Tampa, and if his O-Line can keep the pressure off of him, it should be a good day for him.
Aaron Jones needs to break out against Tampa for them to win. In their first meeting, Jones only had 15 yards rushing and one touchdown out of 10 rushing attempts. Jones is a star player for the Packers, and needs to show that to get those needed rushing plays done for the team.
“The Packers will win the Super Bowl this year due to their confidence and trust in each other, they have the best chemistry. They play with intensity, and this is Aaron Rodgers year.” -Ryan Kennedy ’21
#2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Keys to Victory
Aaron Jones has shown to be a strong running back and proved to be a challenge for the Rams defense. Tampa Bay needs to be sure to lock down the running game to prevent him from locking out the game.
Tom Brady has quite the storied history in the play-offs he needs to pull from his past and show a good game rather than the 12 interceptions he has had this year. He needs to try to get the ball on target under the pressure that Green Bay will apply on him.
The final thing that Tampa Bay needs to do is shut down the passing game from Aaron Rodgers. Much like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback with a long history in the NFL; as such Tampa Bay will want to force him to pull out his worse games rather than his better ones.
“Playoff Tom Brady is always scary, especially with all of the weapons he has on offense around him this year.” -Will Jenkins ’22
#3: Kansas City Chiefs Keys to Victory
Establish a run game- With rookie first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely to be out with a lingering ankle injury, the Chiefs must find a way to establish an efficient ground attack. In the divisional round, Kansas City relied on an unlikely suspect to take on the bulk of the carries, as former undrafted running back from LSU Darrel Williams turned 13 carries into 78 rushing yards for a stout 6 yards per carry. A similar effort by Williams will be necessary to open up passing lanes for Patrick Mahomes by forcing the Buffalo defense to respect the run. More involvement from backup running back Le’Veon Bell is another factor to watch closely.
Keep Mahomes protected inside the pocket- In the divisional round against Cleveland, Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter, forcing 14 year NFL veteran Chad Henne to step in for his first ever postseason game. Henne miraculously played the hero card leading the chiefs to a win after a successful fourth and one pass to Tyreek Hill to ice the game. Although Mahomes is expected to be ready for Sunday’s game, he will obviously not be fully healthy. His usual improvisation outside of the pocket will have to be limited in an effort to keep him safe and able to play the full game. Buffalo’s hard hitting linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano will be lurking outside of the hashes ready to hit Mahomes when he exits the pocket.
Force Josh Allen to beat them deep- NFL fans know that Josh Allen’s incredible arm strength is all the rage. Allen has a rocket for an arm and can air the ball out nearly the length of the field. However, Allen’s accuracy on these deep throws has become a cause for concern throughout the postseason. Pressing cornerbacks and keeping linebackers up to cover underneath routes will force Allen to look to throw deep. In the divisional round against Baltimore, Allen missed wide open receivers such as Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs on fly routes that were sure to be touchdowns if he hit them in stride.
“The Chiefs have a great shot again this year, because when you pair Patrick Mahomes with guys like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, you are never out of it.”-Brandon Kennedy ‘23
#4: Buffalo Bills Keys to Victory
The Bills are able to score, they had the third most points scored in the entire NFL this season. With Josh Allen throwing over 4,500 yards this season it could be a very entertaining offensive game. The connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs is like a brother to brother relationship. If Stefon Diggs can get open there is a high chance Allen will find him the ball.
The Bills don’t have the best running game in the league so they are going to have to start the first half out strong trying to maintain a big lead, that is because Kansas City is able to score a lot.
The Bills defense is going to have a big time role in this game. Kansas City is number one in rushing yards per game. There also is some hope that maybe Mahomes will not play because of Concussion protocol but it is too early to decide.
“Buffalo has a real shot because they have the best defense of the teams left in the playoffs. They have a top three offense with a defense that is playing well above expectations.” -Ty Hall ’21