There are only three NFL games left to be played this season. Two of those will take place on Sunday in the championship round, starting with the Green Bay Packers welcoming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Lambeau Field.
Despite a lopsided, 28-point loss back in October, the Packers are four-point favorites heading into this NFC Championship Game. It’s set to begin 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX, and should be a great launching point into the night game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are three things you need to be paying attention to in the NFC championship, starting with a battle between quarterback legends.
To view the “Three Things To Watch Out For In AFC Championship Game” article, click here.
1. Brady vs. Rodgers
With Tom Brady spending most of his career with the New England Patriots in the AFC, we’ve never gotten to see a matchup between him and Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. Whoever ends up winning the game will go to the Super Bowl, so no big deal, right? This is setting up to be an epic showdown.
As of right now, Rodgers is playing a much more elite level. But remember, these two teams played back in the regular season, and the Bucs won handily in a 38-10 victory. The two quarterbacks only combined for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in that game, but Brady threw the touchdowns while Rodgers tossed the interceptions.
This could — and likely will — be a different outcome than that October blowout.
2. Green Bay’s emerging defense
The Packers got a 14-point victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round last Sunday. Rodgers and the rest of that offense certainly did its part to win in such an impressive fashion, but so did Green Bay’s defense. In fact, looked more than good enough.
The Rams were held to only 18 points while totaling 244 yards of offense. The Packers also held that offense to a combined 2-9 (.222) on third- and fourth-down conversion attempts while racking up four sacks in the process.
The offense they’ll be playing on Sunday with Brady will look a lot different than a Jared Goff-led offense from last week, but this is a front seven capable of frustrating Brady. It’s also starting to click at the right time, so watch out.
3. Weather conditions for the game
It’s Green Bay, Wisconsin in the middle of January. So, of course everyone is expecting the weather to be an obstacle. The temperature is supposed to be around 30 degrees come kickoff, but the good news is that the snow showers should also be gone by then.
Don’t expect the frigid weather to give Rodgers any sort of advantage, though. Yes, Brady has spent the year down in Tampa, Florida, but the first two decades of his career came in New England. So, we could still see both quarterbacks at their best come Sunday afternoon, even with the cold temperatures.
It could affect other aspects of the game, however, including other players. Leonard Fournette, for example. Grew up in New Orleans, went to LSU and has spent his entire NFL career with the Bucs or the Jacksonville Jaguars. How does he handle Lambeau in January?
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.