It's Championship Sunday in the NFL, which is exciting news because it means we'll find out who will be playing in the Super Bowl. It's also a bit sad because it means that today will be the last time we have multiple NFL games until next season.
It also means we have fewer opportunities left in the season to make money betting on the games, so let's not waste them. We couldn't ask for better matchups than the ones we've gotten. In the AFC, we have the defending champions going against one of the league's hottest teams. The NFC is a battle of two all-time great quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
I look forward to watching it and trying to make us all some money in the process!
The Packers only looked bad once this season. Sure, they lost three games, but it was only the 38-10 loss on the road against this same Tampa team in which the Packers embarrassed themselves. They jumped out to an early 10-0 lead after the first quarter, and then the death and destruction began. Aaron Rodgers threw a pick-six, and that started a 38-point run for Tampa. Rodgers would throw another pick in the game, was sacked four times, and pressured countless other times, as Tampa's defense put on what was likely its best performance of the season.
And that's what makes me lean toward the Packers in the rematch. I don't think Tampa can play that well again, and I don't think Rodgers can play as poorly. Plus, as I mentioned, Green Bay jumped out to a 10-0 lead in that game before everything fell apart. Now, with the rematch taking place in Lambeau in late January, the Packers have the edge. Yes, Tom Brady spent an entire career playing in cold weather with the Patriots, but he played on a team full of players who played in cold weather. He played on teams built for those conditions. I don't think Tampa is built for it.
That's not to say they won't have success. I do think the Bucs will be able to run the ball against Green Bay's defense. Keeping Aaron Rodgers off the field is the best thing the Bucs can do for their defense, and that will likely be the game-plan. That should limit scoring for both teams. So, while I think the Packers are the better team and win this game more often than not, the smartest play is to take the Under. I just don't see a shootout happening.
Projected score: Packers 27, Bucs 23
Best bet: Under 51.5 (-110)
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I made this pick with the idea that Patrick Mahomes will play, and he has since announced that he has cleared concussion protocol and will indeed play. And if Mahomes is playing, I'm backing Mahomes at home.
The Buffalo defense has improved as the season has gone on and ranks 12th in the NFL in DVOA against the pass. Still, I can't help but notice that Buffalo's improvement on defense has coincided with a run of games against San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Denver, New England, Miami, Indianapolis and Baltimore. Of those seven opponents, none rank in the top half of the NFL in passing DVOA on offense. Indianapolis, at 16th, is the highest-ranked passing offense of the seven. Kansas City ranks second, behind Green Bay.
Slowing down passing attacks like those is a lot easier to do than to slow down Kansas City's. A lot has been made of Kansas City's struggles against the spread lately, and they're real, but I'm not all that concerned about them. Part of the reason for them is that the Chiefs are the defending champions, and as a result, they're often overvalued on the market. I think the Mahomes injury speculation provides a better price on them than we might've seen without any health questions. Plus, Kansas City was well on its way to covering against the Browns last week before Mahomes was hurt. They were up 19-10 in Cleveland territory when he went down and then had to settle for a field goal. If Mahomes never gets hurt, I think the Chiefs win the game with relative comfort. And while I don't see them blowing out Buffalo on Sunday, I don't see them ever being in serious danger, either.
Projected score: Chiefs 31, Bills 23
Best bet: Chiefs -3 (-115)