With just a few weeks to arrive Super Bowl LV, there are only 4 teams left in the race and many unknowns on the way to the most important event in American football. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills will meet for the American Conference (AFC) title, while the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do the same in the National Conference (NFC). Both series will be defined on Sunday, January 24 and the sparks, like the show, are guaranteed.
The road was not easy for any of them, but logic prevailed in each previous encounter during the playoffs and the favorites of each series advanced to final instances in their respective conferences. However, there is still one more match for the Super Bowl LV and no one wants to be left out.
How do the teams arrive? Who are the favorites? And what are the players to consider? These are some of the unknowns to answer in the following note, so that you do not stay without knowing anything for the NFL conference finals, this Sunday.
• Kansas City Chiefs: The reigning NFL champions and serious title contenders didn’t have an easy time reaching the American Conference final. After finishing the regular season with a 14-2 record, and being the best team in the league for this season, the Chiefs secured a playoff berth without much trouble. In the knockout round they faced a Cleveland Browns, led by Baker Mayfield, who seemed to be the “dark horse” of this season. However, They outscored the Browns by a score of 22-17, but at a high cost: midway through the third quarter, Patrick Mahomes, quarterback (QB) of the Kansas team, after receiving a defensive tackle, had to leave the game with a concussion cerebral. Mahomes returned to the team’s training sessions on Wednesday, January 20, but his participation is still in doubt for next Sunday.
• Buffalo Bills: The Bills are on a roll and no one can cut their inspiration. Unlike the Chiefs, who arrived rested for their game against the Browns, the Buffalo team had to go through two difficult pitfalls, before reaching the AFC championship. First they left the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 on the road and then the Baltimore Ravens 17-3. Of the three losses the Bills had in the regular season, one was to the Chiefs in Week 6 by a score of 26-17. Will the scenario repeat itself? Nothing is written, but what we can be sure of is that in Buffalo there is a hunger for titles since, since its founding in 1960, the team has not won a Super Bowl – it lost four consecutive finals in the 90s – and they seek to cut the streak. The group will not have a history like Jim Kelly, but they do have the presence of young talent like Josh Allen and many others.
• Green Bay Packers: There is not playoffs without the Packers and that’s – almost – religion in Wisconsin. After a season without many errors and with a 13-3 record in the NFC, the team once again demonstrated why they are favorites in the NFL against the Los Angeles Rams. Led by a Matthew LaFleur in his second year as the team’s head coach and with an intractable Aaron Rodgers, the Packers left the Rams on the road 32-18. The team is in a solid stage, without many changes or losses in the process, and they do not want surprises against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday. The last time the Green Bays won a Super Bowl, it was in the XLV (2010) edition with Rodgers at the helm. Since then, they have participated in 8 of the last 10 playoffs but have failed to lift another title.
• Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If the Bills are the only team standing that has not won a Super Bowl, the one who has not lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy the longest of those left in the race is Tampa Bay. Being the last time in 2002 (XXXVII) with the Argentine Martín Gramatica as kicker, this season’s Buccaneers are not easily beaten by records and history. While they finished second in their division, they defeated the New Orleans Saints and frustrated Drew Brees’ dreams of getting one more Super Bowl ring before retirement. Now, what is the reason for the change in the Bucs? The key factor, the offense. The incorporation of Tom BradyAfter his departure from the New England Patriots, it was the push they needed to empower a team that did everything well in defense, but lacked that little push in attack. Like Brees, Brady, 43, doesn’t want to hang up his boots and is trying to win a seventh Super Bowl and the second in Tampa Bay team history.
• Patrick Mahomes (QB / Kansas City Chiefs): After the departure of Alex Smith as the starting QB in 2018, and with only one year in the team, Patrick Mahomes took over the team and in what way. He finished the 2018-2019 season with 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns (TD), and 12 interceptions. For the following, the Chiefs would be crowned champions of Super Bowl LIV and Mahomes would receive the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award of the final. Since then, with Mahomes at the helm, the Kansas team’s dominance in the AFC has been clear. Although his participation is in doubt for this Sunday due to a concussion, he has been active in recent training sessions and Andy Reid hopes to count on him to achieve a second Super Bowl in a row.
• Josh Allen (QB / Buffalo Bills): Like Mahomes, Josh Allen took over the reins of his team in no time. Hailing from the Wyoming Cowboys and being the seventh pick in the first round of the 2018 draft, Allen changed the face of the team in no time. The first season (2018-2019) they finished with a 6-10 record; but the next (2019-2020) they reached the playoffs and yet they were eliminated by the Houston Texans. In the present (2020-2021), with an inspired Allen after a regular season with 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Buffalo returned to an AFC championship, the last time being in 1993 with Jim Kelly as QB.
• Aaron Rodgers (QB / Green Bay Packers): If Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen represent the NFL for years to come, Aaron Rodgers is an ambassador for the old guard. After Brett Favre left the Packers in 2008, it was Rodgers’ turn to start. Since then, the native of California, with 37 years on his ID, knows nothing other than success. Super Bowl XLV Champion (2011), MVP (2011 and 2014), Athlete of the Year (2011) and with a Hall of Fame-worthy record of 412 TDs, 51,245 yards and 89 interceptionsRodgers hopes to cap off the season with another Super Bowl ring. If achieving the championship is not enough, The QB is a serious contender for MVP this season, leading the touchdown department with 48 and the quarterback with the highest passing rating of 121.5.
• Tom Brady (QB / Tampa Bay Buccaneers): A list of “players to watch out for” wouldn’t be complete without the presence of Tom Brady. The historic QB, who has just finished a successful 19-year relationship with the New England Patriots, wants to show that he still has gasoline to achieve one more title before retirement and a secure ticket to the NFL Hall of Fame. Champion in 6 Super Bowls (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017 and 2019), MVP in 4 NFL finals (2002, 2004, 2015 and 2017), 3 times regular season MVP (2007, 2010 and 2017), 2007 Athlete of the Year, NFL leader in passing touchdowns (2002, 2007, 2010 and 2015), among many other milestones. Despite being chosen by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft (199 pick), Brady followed a path that would only be filled with success. With 79,204 yards, 581 TDs and 191 interceptions, Brady is not thinking about retirement and wants to continue a couple more seasons, ignoring the fact that he is 43 years old. Old? The hills!
The Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet for the National Conference title next Sunday 24 at 17:05 (Argentina time), while the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills will do it for the National Conference at 20:40 (Argentina local time) The same day.