After the best weekend in football, we have four teams remaining. The AFC went pretty much as it should; as Kansas City and Buffalo both advanced to the AFC Championship game. As predicted, the NFC had other things in mind. The MVP, Aaron Rodgers, will be facing Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFC portion of the championship game. True football enthusiasts shouldn’t be shocked at all. Three of the best quarterbacks in the game, and a rising star are the final four left standing.
A lot of teams were sent to the couch early this 2020 season. Indianapolis was the first one to sit on the couch. Philip Rivers future is definitely in turmoil. Seattle was the next team to be parked. It was a bit shocking watching them lose at home, but at least it was to a rival that was very familiar to them. Ron Rivera and the new look Washington Football Team were the next buns on the couch. The Baltimore Ravens sent the Tennessee Titans on an early vacation, the New Orleans Saints dispatched of the dilapidated Chicago Bears, and Cleveland played their Super Bowl in front of the nation, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. So something had to give, now the pretenders are separated from the contenders. Divisional week is some of the best football that you can watch; regardless whether you’re a die-hard or a casual fan.
The week started with the Green Bay Packers rolling against the Los Angeles Rams 32 to 18. Aaron Rodgers is on another level right now, as he threw for 296 yards, passed for two touchdowns and running for another. Aaron Jones assisted in the victory with 99 yards on the ground, and one pay-dirt touchdown. The bromance between Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams is real. It’s pure though, so it should be okay. Mr. Adams had nine catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, proving to the NFL that he is a reckless machine that will not be denied. Although he dropped a couple of passes, Allen Lazard had an amazing night Saturday. with four catches for 96 yards and a 58 yard touchdown, he proved that the wide receiver core of the Green Bay Packers are not to be underestimated.
The Saturday night the light was a trip to Orchard Park, to watch an amazing defensive performance by the Buffalo Bills. Defeating the Baltimore Ravens 17 to 3, Coach Sean McDermott, Coach Brian Daboll, and Coach Leslie Frazier have put the Bills back on the map. Josh Allen threw for 206 yards and one touchdown against a very stingy Ravens defense. Stefon Diggs is unguardable. After his second playoff game with his new team, he now has two 100-yard receiving games. A touchdown for good measure only strengthened his breakout season; cementing him as one of the best wide receivers in the game today. The bills have the recipe to shock the world. The ironic part about their story, is this is exactly what they wanted; a chance for redemption. Bill’s Mafia were also quite classy by donating money towards Lamar Jackson‘s charity, when he suffered a concussion against the team Saturday night.
The Cleveland Browns may have lost to the Kansas City chiefs, but they are a team that should garner respect. Digging yourself from the ashes is never a quick process, it takes time. It takes dedication and a lot of fortitude. The Cleveland Browns fought Sunday afternoon, against a team that no one picked them to beat. They played valiantly, and if it weren’t for a couple of crucial mistakes, they could’ve pulled off the upset. They are only a couple of tools away from taking over the AFC North. Kansas City however, showed grit during a time of crisis. Patrick Mahomes exited the game with a concussion in the second half. The Kansas City defense rose to the occasion, and did what they had to do to hold on to the victory. I guess it is true, that Henne thing is possible. Chad Henne did just enough to keep the ship floating to fight another day. Chiefs Kingdom have been monitoring the health of Patrick Mahomes since he went down; we all know that they won’t beat the Bills without him.
But the dessert of the divisional week belonged to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the New Orleans Saints. Personal doesn’t even describe this matchup. The Saints swept the division this year, exerting their dominance in their quest to reach the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay’s roller coaster will finally reach a climax this Sunday. Throughout the entire off-season, the nation has focused on Tampa, and almost every move that Tom Patrick Edward Brady made. Brady was exactly who we thought he was; Tom Brady. With no turnovers, he mastered a winning performance, and might have retired a legend, throwing for 199 yards, passing for two touchdowns, and diving in another. The team showed balance, as Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones ran the ball a total of 35 times for 125 yards; 63 and 62 respectfully. Brady connected with eight different receivers to pull off this victory. Too many weapons, but then again he did have a lot of mouths to feed. Cameron Brate led all the receivers with 50 yards, Leonard Fournette was a dual threat, racking up 44 yards receiving and one of Brady’s touchdown passes. Scott Miller caught a key pass to keep a drive going, and Mike Evans got a bit of sweet revenge against his nemesis: Marshon Lattimore, for a 3 yard touchdown reception. The defense was stout. Devin White played like a man possessed, and Antoine Winfield Jr should have won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
This has been anything but a normal season. Delayed games, covid issues, and politics away from the field have attempted to derail, or degrade the passion that we have for this game. Football has been sanctuary to turn to during these trying times. No one thought that the NFL could pull off 256 games without a bubble, yet they did. We should all be grateful, for not only the joy, but the pain, that the NFL has given us this season. But one last question has yet to be answered. Who will be the last two teams, to get the warmest seat on the couch?
Ric Flair said it best. “To be the man, you have to beat the man”. Although that man is currently in concussion protocol, Patrick Mahomes is the heartbeat of the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo will never have a better opportunity to dethrone the reigning and defending Super Bowl Champions. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will have his best game of chess ready against the Chiefs. His mentality in style of play: Aggressive. The Buffalo Bills defense held Lamar Jackson without a touchdown. That’s the first time that has happened to him in his career. Of all the teams in the AFC, the Bills match up the best against the AFC West champions. Opportunities like this don’t come around often, especially for natives of Orchard Park. Look for the Buffalo Bills to take advantage of this opportunity that has been presented, and shocking the world by breaking some tables on a trip down to Tampa.
For the first time in five tries, Green Bay will finally be hosting an NFC championship game. Aaron Rodgers is 1-4 in NFC championship games. His lone victory was against an NFC North rival in the Chicago Bears. He won a Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers after that victory. Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta have been in his way from establishing his place as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Always playing on the road, the rivaling home teams seemed to consistently maintain a leg up against each of his contending Packer squads. 2014, 2015, 2017 and as recently as 2020. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need vindication; he’s seeking solidification. Some argued that Rodgers didn’t have enough weapons to complete the goal of making it back to the Super Bowl. Coach Matt LaFleur, has silenced a lot of those doubters. In his two years as the head coach, he has brought Green Bay on the brink of another Super Bowl opportunity two years in a row. Devante Adams will no doubt be a center of attention. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will look to assist the Packer faithful into adding to their historical history. Will the defense be aligned with Rodgers in reaching this dream; only Sunday will tell.
Tom Brady came to Tampa for a reason. He of all people knew that this journey wouldn’t be easy, switching conferences and starting fresh with a new team. However, his leadership and guile has gotten the Buccaneers this far. To be the first team to ever host and play in a Super Bowl would be historic. To win it, will no doubt etch his legacy as the best quarterback to ever play the game. This isn’t about money. Sometimes you have to think with Brady it never was. Father time is working against Tom Brady, but he has remained defiant, and has been blessed with one more opportunity to again make history. Everyone knows the cast of characters for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For Florida team to go to a old division rival and deal with the elements, will be the final telltale in a long 2020 season. One can only wonder, what he has against couches. A man driven, he leads a franchise with the lowest winning percentage in NFL history to an opportunity to not only change the franchise’s fortunes, but renew the pride of the 70’s expansion team.
Chances like these don’t come often in professional sports. The 2020 season is coming to a close, and storylines are abound. Will it be a rematch of Super Bowl 1, with Kansas City facing Green Bay? Or will it be a young blood, versus an old veteran? Sunday will tell us who will obtain the warmest seats left on the couch.