Just one game separates four teams from representing their respective conference and playing in Super Bowl LV. As we approach Championship Sunday, the slate is largely what we expected from our picks heading into the divisional round. We went 3-1 on the moneyline over the weekend with the Buccaneers upsetting the Saints as the only miss. We did note that contest was going to be much closer than their previous two matchups, but being close admittedly only counts in horseshoes.
As we look forward to Sunday, the quarterback matchups are box office. We have the old guard going toe-to-toe in the NFC as Tom Brady and his Bucs are heading into Lambeau Field to face the Packers. Meanwhile, the AFC boasts the new wave with Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who'll host Josh Allen and the Bills.
Who do we think is going to punch their ticket to Tampa? Let's find out.
All NFL odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
Buccaneers at Packers
Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
I'm mostly fading the idea that the Buccaneers have Aaron Rodgers' number by predicting that the Packers will win and cover over Tampa Bay. Green Bay's Week 6 loss is naturally garnering a lot of attention this week as it was undoubtedly Rodgers' worst game of what is promised to be an MVP season. He completed just 46% of his passes for 160 yards and threw two interceptions (both resulting in eventual touchdowns). I just have a hard time believing that lightning will strike twice in that regard, especially with this latest game at Lambeau Field. If you take away that performance against the Bucs, Rodgers has completed 72% of his throws for an average of 277.2 yards passing to go along with 50 touchdowns to just three interceptions in every other game he's played this year (including playoffs). I am also throwing out Rodgers' 1-3 record in the conference championship with the knowledge that each of those games was played on the road. Even more so than most quarterbacks, Rodgers is dynamite at home.
As for the Buccaneers, while they have the offensive firepower to keep up with Rodgers' offense, I still have questions about their defense. During Super Wild-Card Weekend, they made Taylor Heinicke look like Steve Young, and beating the corpse of Drew Brees, who was unable to throw the deep ball, is hardly impressive. Rodgers is an entirely different animal, who is extremely motivated to get revenge on this unit.
Projected score: Packers 28, Buccaneers 24
My pick: Packers -3
Bills at Chiefs
Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
I've been saying this for at least the entire second half of the season: Buffalo is one of the few teams in the AFC that can match the offensive firepower of the Chiefs. The emergence of Josh Allen gives the Bills the ability to match Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs throw-for-throw, which makes this a particularly tough draw for the defending champs. To make matters even more concerning for the defending champions, Patrick Mahomes may not be at 100% despite announcing he passed concussion protocol Friday. While he'll play, he may be banged up due to the reported neck and toe injuries he suffered in the Chiefs' divisional round win over Cleveland.
When you have Mahomes possibly going at less than full speed, it only adds to the desire to lean towards Buffalo. After all, the Bills are the much hotter team coming into this AFC title game. They are 12-6 ATS on the season, while Kansas City is below .500 in that regard at 7-10 ATS. While the Chiefs are 8-0 over their last eight games with Mahomes under center, they've won those contests by six points or fewer. With Mahomes dinged up and Buffalo a much more lethal team offensively than they've seen in recent weeks, Kansas City's bid to go back-to-back ends just short of reaching the Super Bowl.
Projected score: Bills 30, Chiefs 23
My pick: Bills +3
Against the spread in divisional round: 2-2
ATS overall: 120-133-11
Straight up in divisional round: 3-1
SU overall: 178-85-1