Tampa Bay (13-5) at Green Bay (14-3)
When: Sunday, January 24th, 2021
Where: Lambeau Field,
Green Bay, WI
Time: 3:05 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Green Bay -4.5/51
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to do something no other franchise has ever done – compete in the Super Bowl on your home field. That’s what lies ahead for the Buccaneers, who first must beat the Green Bay Packers in frigid Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon. Forecast calls for a 50% chance of snow, but both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are used to cold temperatures. The future Hall of Fame quarterbacks will be meeting for the first time in a postseason game and this is clearly the more anticipated game of the day. The Packers are coming off a 32-18 home win over the Rams in the Divisional round, while the Bucs took care of the New Orleans Saints on the road, 30-20. Including the win over Washington in the wild card round, Tampa Bay has won seven straight road games dating back to the regular season.
When these two teams squared off in Week 6, it was Tampa Bay who handed Green Bay their ugliest loss of the season. Rodgers had his worst game by far, throwing two interceptions – one returned for a touchdown by cornerback Jamel Dean – and was sacked four times while passing for just 160 yards. He also completed just 16-of-35 pass attempts. The Packers raced out to a quick 10-0 lead before the Bucs scored the game’s next 38 points.
Brady will be playing in his 14th career league championship final and went 9-4 in AFC title games during his tenure with the New England Patriots. Rodgers is playing in his fifth NFC title game and is looking to reach the Super Bowl for just the second time. Sunday’s game marks the first time Green Bay has hosted the NFC title game since the 2007 season when Rodgers was the backup to Brett Favre and the Packers lost in overtime 23-20 to the New York Giants. Tampa Bay is playing in its first NFC championship game since the 2002 season. The Buccaneers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in the last game ever at Veterans Stadium, then went on to beat Oakland 48-21 in the Super Bowl. The home team has covered five of the past seven in the series and won 15 of the previous 18 straight up.
The Bucs closed as 2.5-point underdogs Sunday in New Orleans, but beat the Saints for the first time in three meetings this season. Tampa intercepted Drew Brees three times in what could have been his last game in the NFL. Overall, New Orleans turned it over four times, leading to three Tampa Bay touchdowns. Brady had two TD passes and a rushing score in the win and is the fourth quarterback since the NFL merger to go to the conference title game in both conferences. Brad had 166 passing yards and two touchdowns without an interception on 17-of-27 completions in the Bucs’ win over Green Bay in Week 6. Ronald Jones also came up big in that game with 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had an MRI on his knee on Monday, which showed he has avoided serious injury. Defensive tackle Vita Vea fractured his ankle in October but has been designated to return from injured reserve. Tampa Bay led the league in defending the run at just 80.6 yards per game.
Green Bay covered the 7-point spread last week versus the Rams, as Rogers threw for two scores and rushed for one, and Aaron Jones added 99 yards and a TD on the ground. After an incredible regular season, Davante Adams caught nine balls for for 66 yards and a TD last Saturday. Adams had 61 receiving yards on six catches and 10 targets in the loss to the Buccaneers. The Rams’ top-ranked defense allowed season highs in yards (484), first downs (28) and gave up the second-most points of their season. It was Green Bay’s defense that stepped-up, holding L.A. to 244 total yards. The Packers have not allowed more than 20 points in any of their games since Week 12. The Packers are 16-0 all-time at home in playoff games in which they led at any point by double digits.
Aaron Rodgers will not be denied in this game. He remembers that Week 6 game in Tampa and will be ready this time around. Tampa needed four Saints turnovers to win that game last week and Green Bay has turned the ball over just 11 times all season. I really think the Pack roll in this one.
Pick: Packers -3
Championship Round Staff Selections