AFC/NFC Championship Review and Super Bowl Prediction

NFL Playoffs


Two of the best will face off in Super Bowl LV.

Pike Temple, Reporter

Well, the table has been set for the 2020-2021 Super Bowl. Here’s a recap of the NFC and AFC Championship games followed with my prediction on who will win Super Bowl LV.


AFC/NFC Championship Round Recap

Buccaneers v. Packers: Coming into the game, the 1 seeded Packers were expected to get the win at home against the 5 seeded Bucs. Although snow in Green Bay was in the forecast, the field stayed green the entire game. With all-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari out, the Green Bay offensive line had their hands full with a Tampa Bay defensive line stacked with talent. For the majority of the first half, the sides looked fairly even. However, the Packers’ pass rush and defense was inconsistent the first two quarters, but improved valiantly in the latter half of the game. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers’ defensive line gave Aaron Rodgers constant pressure all four quarters, making it hard for the Packers offense to continuously move the ball. After a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Scotty Miller in the final 7 seconds before halftime, giving the Buccaneers a 24-10 lead, the chances of a Green Bay comeback looked slim. The Bucs secondary played tighter coverage, especially in the second half, pressing the Green Bay wide receivers at the line of scrimmage making it hard for players like Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard from creating separation and getting open. The Tampa Bay offense, in the first two quarters, were efficient, scoring on nearly every possession and converting over and over on 3rd down. However, the second half for Tom Brady was a different story. Brady threw three interceptions in the second half due to overthrowing his targets while under pressure, but the Packers could not put up points from two of the three turnovers. On the other hand, the Buccaneers picked off Aaron Rodgers once and caused running back Aaron Jones to leave the game with a chest injury after coughing up the football in Green Bay territory. In the end, the Packers came crawling back and had a chance to tie the game up, but on 3rd and goal at the eight yard line, Aaron Rodgers got an opening in the pocket and had space ahead to scramble into the end zone but didn’t like what he saw, and forced a ball into a tight window to Davante Adams resulting in an incomplete pass. After deciding to kick a field goal to cut the Bucs lead to 5 with two minutes remaining in the game, Coach Lefleur must have had confidence in his defense to get a stop and force a punt. Unfortunately, the defense was not able to do so. Tom Brady ran the clock to double zeroes and will play in his 10th Super Bowl at home in Tampa.

Chiefs v. Bills: The AFC Championship matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was one of the most anticipated matchups going into the playoffs. At first the Bills looked dominant going up 9-0 in the first quarter. However, the Chiefs defensive line created penetration forcing Bills quarterback Josh Allen to earn yards with his legs. The Bills lead was short lived however after the blitz heavy Chiefs forced the Buffalo offense to punt on their next possession. The Patrick Mahomes led offense of Kansas City scored quickly after. The uber explosive Chiefs offense never looked back, scoring possession after possession without much resistance from the Bills defense. Especially after this season, seeing all the high scoring offenses make it to the NFC/AFC Championship, it was clear in this game that no matter how good a defense is, all the motion and trickery that offensive coordinators do nowadays in the NFL is too much to slow down for four quarters. It appears that offense will win you a Super Bowl in this era of football. Both quarterbacks, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, made some extraordinary passes during this game, throwing on the run as well as amidst pressure. Although the Buffalo offense looked just as electric, the game became a shootout, a battle of which team could put the most points on the scoreboard. The speed of Kansas City’s wide receivers such as Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins truly make Coach Andy Reid’s operation hum. For both teams, yards after the catch amounted to the majority of their success all season. Now, the defense, at least for the Chiefs, played really well in the second half. The Kansas City defensive line continued to pressure Josh Allen and force some sketchy passes down the home stretch of the fourth quarter, to the disappointment of Bills fans, resulting in Allen throwing two interceptions, one in the red zone. Perhaps the most Bills-friendly play the entire game was a successfully recovered onside kick with four minutes left in the game. The Bills did fight back, scoring points on their last few offensive drives to make the point margin a little less embarrassing, but the red hot Kansas City Chiefs were, too hot to handle, and will be headed to the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons.


Pike’s Picks

Super Bowl LV-Chiefs v. Buccaneers: Although the Buccaneers defense is coming off an exceptional performance against a regular season top 3 offense of the Green Bay Packers, the Chiefs are far more explosive and Andy Reid has used the team’s speed to his advantage. The first time that Kansas City played Tampa Bay this season, the statline wasn’t even close. I expect the Bucs offense to play better than the first time these two teams met, as well as the defense, but I personally think that the Chiefs are so potent on offense and strong up front that the Tampa Bay defensive line, who gave Aaron Rodgers problems in the NFC Championship, will have less success against a more mobile quarterback such as Patrick Mahomes with a more stable offensive line. I also believe that the Bucs cornerbacks will have a lot more trouble covering wide receivers built to stretch the field and who can blow the top off any defense as the Chiefs have throughout the depth chart. On the other side of the ball, I think that Tampa’s offensive line will protect Tom Brady better than how the Bills o-line protected Josh Allen in the AFC Championship, but I still think that Brady will get consistent pressure. If Brady melts in the face of that pressure, like he did on the three drives against the Packers where he made bad decisions resulting in interceptions, then the Tampa Bay offense will struggle. I predict that this Super Bowl matchup will look a lot like the game when these two teams faced off in the regular season, even though that type of outcome may result in a disappointing Super Bowl for Bucs fans. My prediction is Chiefs 35 Buccaneers 24. Sorry NFL enthusiasts, but the Reid-Mahomes dynasty isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.