NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Staff Picks
256 games and four months later, the NFL postseason field is underway, as four teams remain. Looking back at our preseason staff predictions, only one predicted conference champion (Kansas City) is still playing, but they were the majority favorite to win the conference back in September.
For the postseason, we asked 18 of our staff members for their picks for this weekend's slate, and will continue to do so each round of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-5) @ Green Bay Packers (14-3) ... Sunday, 3:05 PM, FOX
Being in a different conference didn't stop Tom Brady from making it to the conference championship, increasing his career total to 14. To put that in perspective, the regular season is 16 games, so he has essentially played a full season in conference championship games alone. A win would give him his tenth conference title and send the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Tampa Bay. They have won their last six games, including four away from home, while scoring 30 or more in all but one of them.
Aaron Rodgers is playing his first-ever home NFC Championship game and trying to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in a decade. Green Bay has lost their past three appearances in the conference championship, but this time they have home-field advantage. It also helps to have the MVP frontrunner in Rodgers, who is playing some of his best football this season. The Packers only lost one game at Lambeau Field this year, and four overall dating back to the beginning of the 2018 season.
Packers: Erin, Nate, Justin H., Jill, Noah, Zach, Vin, Matt, Ryan
Buccaneers: Nick, Pat, Joe, Sophia, Caroline, Dylan, Ross, David G., Kevin
* Each team received nine votes
Buffalo Bills (13-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (15-2) ... Sunday, 6:40 PM, CBS
Chad Henne entered last week's game against the Browns and helped solidify Kansas City's third-straight trip to the AFC Championship. Patrick Mahomes entered concussion protocol during that game, while also dealing with a toe injury, but appears to be on track to play this Sunday. Both of the Chiefs' losses came at home this year, with one of them being the Week 17 game in which Henne started. Surprisingly, five of their six losses over the past two seasons have been at Arrowhead, despite having one of the most distinct home-field advantages in the league. With that being said, the Chiefs are also the defending champions, and have essentially the same team from last year playing at a high level.
The Bills, like Tampa Bay, are red-hot. They haven't lost since before their Week 11 bye, and have averaged over 30 points during that span. Buffalo is doing it on both sides of the ball; last week their defense shut down a Baltimore offense that was running all over opponents' defenses. This is the first AFC Championship appearance for the Bills since 1993, which was the last year of the four year stretch in which they made the Super Bowl. While it has already been a historic season for Buffalo, they don't want it to end here.
Majority Pick: Kansas City (10 votes)
Chiefs: Nick, Joe, Justin H., Zach, Vin, Matt, Ryan, Ross, Kevin, David G.
Bills: Erin, Nate, Pat, Sophia, Jill, Caroline, Noah, Dylan
(Cover Photo: Matt Ludtke/Associated Press)