THE PICKS SIX – CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY
Well, here we are. After a week of uncertainty, following an exciting divisional weekend, it looks like all things are set, and Championship Sunday is set to go off with only one big name injury – but thank god it’s not Patrick Mahomes… it’s a bit hard to create six categories of picks and tips with only two games to choose from, so let’s just have a look at both Championship games and then just a few tips as to what I think might happen on Sunday. It’s time for the Picks Six for the AFC and NFC championships.
Buccaneers vs Packers
The two best quarterbacks of the past decade? One storied franchise, and one loaded upstart? The Frozen Tundra? This has ALL the ingredients to be an absolute barnburner of a game. I’m so excited for this one. Hearing Aaron Rodgers jokingly suggest he was looking forward to seeing “Tom playing safety against me” this week shows how nonsensical the “Rodgers vs Brady” take on this game really is. They’re never going to be going one on one… and yet this game STILL feels like a duel between the two quarterbacks. The defenses – especially Tampa Bay’s – will play a huge role in the outcome of this, but the ball will still touch the hands of two of the greatest to ever do this on almost every play.
Tampa Bay rode their luck slightly last week, as Brady definitely started off shaky and grew into the contest. I’m not sure they can afford a slow start this week. Green Bay’s 1st half offensive production has been incredible and has allowed them to play from a lead most of this season. Antonio Brown is definitely a big miss for Tampa Bay, but he barely played last Sunday either and the Buccaneers defense still stepped up big time to knock out the New Orleans Saints. Devin White? Unbelievable. Insane. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will carry the load down the field. Can “Playoff Lenny” Fournette continue to find the endzone with regularity? Maybe. Green Bay’s defense has improved vastly the last six to eight weeks, and have filled the holes that were being run through with ease earlier this season. And when they have the ball? Rodgers to Davante Adams is of course the main threat, but Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, and even Marquez Valdes-Scantling are further threats down the field. Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and even Jamaal Williams could ALL end up as starting running backs in the NFL, maybe as early as next season. These are two absolutely stacked teams, and it’s absolutely no surprise to see them vying for a place in SuperBowl LV.
Speaking of which… There’s never been a “home team” in a SuperBowl, and I don’t think that streak is getting broken this year. What Brady and the Bucs have achieved in their first year together is very impressive, but I just don’t see how they’re beating this Packers team, with THAT quarterback playing this well. I love my man Stephen A. Smith, and I have to agree with him – Aaron Rodgers is a bad bad bad man. Sorry not sorry TB12, I’m riding with A-A-Rod. The Pack will go back to the biggest game of the season, with hope of bringing another championship back to TitleTown.
Bills vs Chiefs
Let me just say this… if you thought, for one second, that Patrick Mahomes wasn’t going to be playing in this game… you’re absolutely crazy. The face of the NFL? He would’ve needed a rather more significant injury than the reported “nerve in his neck” injury to stop Showtime from playing in his third straight AFC Championship game. It would have been somewhat of travesty in all honesty had this Chiefs team not been at full strength as they try to “run it back,” and defend their crown. But – even though he’s cleared concussion protocol – will Mahomes be 100%? He was already struggling with turf toe last weekend against the Browns. I have to assume that he’s going to be able to play through the pain barrier and lead his team into battle. His supporting cast as well all seem to by flying at the right time. It feels almost impossible for Travis Kelce to fail to have about 8 catches, around 100 yards, and a Touchdown every week. He’s just incredible. And when they needed him most, who made the play (with the help of Chad Henne) last weekend? Tyreek Hill. The run game is definitely somewhat lacking, but it wasn’t all the impressive with Damien Williams last season before his explosion in the playoffs. The Chiefs somehow took a SuperBowl winning team and somehow became even better.
On the other side, I absolutely love this Bills team. What Sean McDermott has done in a relatively short space of time to turn this franchise from the Patriots’ whipping boy into the 2nd best team in the AFC is incredible. In a similar vein to Travis Kelce, it’s seemingly impossible for Stefon Diggs not to end each game having scored and earned triple digit receiving yards. The rapport he and his QB have has been a true gamechanger. Josh Allen has EARNED his right to be considered one of the four best QBs in the league; that’s what we’ve got on show this weekend. Brady vs Rodgers, Mahomes vs Allen. For me, they’ve been the four best pass throwers in the league this season, so it’s great to know that we’re going to get two of them in the SuperBowl two weeks from now. That said, I do think this will be the ceiling for Josh Allen and #BillsMafia. This Chiefs team is so impressive. I haven’t even mentioned the performance that Tyrann Mathieu turned in last weekend. He’ll need to be in that mood again this weekend to stop Buffalo from upsetting the odds and heading to Tampa with a chance. But as impressive as Buffalo have been, I just can’t go against Andy Reid and this offense. So, it might be the boring and obvious pick, but I’m taking the Chiefs here too.
Both Players to score a Touchdown Double:
Robert Tonyan & Rob Gronkowski both to score
Travis Kelce & Josh Allen both to score
£10 on this double pays about £340 depending on your bookmaker.
Chiefs -2.5 & Over 54.5
Packers -2.5 & Over 52.0
£10 on this double pays about £120 depending on your bookmaker.
I’ve already apologised, so I won’t do it again, but I have to favour the two favourites AND both points totals going over. I think this will be a shootout sunday for the right to compete for the Lombardi trophy in 14 days. Thank you all, whether it was once, twice, or every week, for taking the time to read my thoughts. Hope it’s brought some enjoyment to this insane few months we’ve had. Stay safe, and come chat with me on Twitter or Instagram at @CallumJDSquires. Enjoy the games. Peace.
Callum Squires is a London based NFL writer, and former US college athlete.