The favorites nearly went 4-0 on the NFL Playoffs’ divisional round weekend before Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upset the New Orleans Saints in the final game of the weekend. The favorites covered in two of the games (Buffalo and Green Bay), and the matchups and lines are now set for the championship games.
Brady Back in Championship Game
For the 14th time in his legendary career, Brady will play in a conference championship game. This will be his first in the NFC after 13 in the AFC with the New England Patriots.
Brady threw for two touchdowns and ran for one but totaled just 199 yards on 18-of-33 passing against the Saints. Tampa Bay’s defense got the job done with three interceptions of Drew Brees and a fumble recovery.
Brady and the offense turned three of those turnovers into touchdowns, and the Buccaneers scored the final 17 points of the game. Brees finished what is reported to be his final NFL game with just 134 passing yards and three interceptions.
He did throw a touchdown pass, as did his backup, Jameis Winston, on a trick play. Tampa Bay held Saints star wideout Michael Thomas to zero catches on the day.
Chiefs Survive as Mahomes Gets Concussed
Except for the kicking game, everything was going perfectly for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday with a 19-3 lead at halftime over the Cleveland Browns. But then star quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion, and Cleveland scored twice to cut the lead to five with 11 minutes left.
Backup quarterback Chad Henne led a game-clinching drive as he scrambled for 13 yards on third down and hit Tyreek Hill with a fourth-down completion to virtually end the game.
Mahomes threw for 255 yards and a touchdown before the injury, while Henne went 6-for-8 for 66 yards and an interception after taking over. The Chiefs defense limited the Browns to 204 passing yards and 112 rushing yards, forced a fumble, and picked off Baker Mayfield.
They also forced the Browns to punt on both possessions in which the visitors could have taken the lead in the fourth quarter.
Championship Game Lines
In the NFC, the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers will host the Buccaneers on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX. The Packers have opened at -3.5, and the game has a total of 51.5 points.
Tampa Bay is a +150 moneyline underdog. The teams met on Oct. 18 in Florida, and Tampa Bay throttled the Packers 38-10.
That contest was the worst of the season for the Packers after they led 10-0 in the first quarter. Aaron Rodgers was picked off twice, sacked four times, and held to 160 yards on 16-of-35 passing.
Brady had just 166 passing yards to go with two touchdowns while Ronald Jones ran for 113 yards. Weather could be an issue Sunday with snow in the forecast and a high expected in the 20s.
The Chiefs and Buffalo Bills played in the same week of the regular season, with Kansas City winning on the road 26-17 on Monday night. The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS.
Buffalo initially opened as a slight favorite with Mahomes’ status in doubt, but the line quickly changed to Chiefs -2.5 with a total of 54.
In the first matchup, Mahomes threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire gashed the Bills for 161 yards. The Chiefs running back missed Sunday’s win over Cleveland and is questionable for the AFC Championship Game.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen threw for just 122 yards against the Chiefs in October, and he led the running attack with 42 yards.
Super Bowl Odds Updated
The Chiefs are still the Super Bowl favorites at +200, with the Packers right behind them at +220. Buffalo is now at +325, and Tampa Bay is +450 to win the Super Bowl in its home stadium, an accomplishment that has never happened in NFL history.