As another thrilling NFL season nears its climactic close, just four teams remain and are just one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.
After an exciting Divisional Round, the NFL playoffs continue with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers battling for the NFC title and the Buffalo Bills taking on the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC crown with the winners advancing to the Super Bowl.
With so much on the line, here’s a look preview and prediction for both of this weekend’s high-stakes games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers – Saturday, 3:05 p.m. ET
Odds: Packers -3
With both teams coming off decisive, double-digit wins last week, the NFL’s two highest-scoring offenses meet as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to face the Green Bay Packers with the NFC title and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
The Buccaneers are perhaps the hottest team remaining. Tampa Bay won its final four games of the regular season to narrowly qualify for the playoffs and then kept the streak alive in the postseason, besting both the Washington Football Team and the New Orleans Saints to punch its ticket to the NFC title game.
The Buccaneers have leaned on their offense during this late-season run, putting up over 30 points in each of their last five games, but it was the defense who came up big against the Saints, forcing four turnovers including three interceptions off of Drew Brees.
Green Bay, meanwhile, has been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL all season, led by the top scoring offense in the league. The Packers lead the league, averaging 31.8 points per game, but their defense has come up strong down the stretch as Green Bay has held its last four opponents under 20 points.
Both teams enter this showdown with elite offenses, each averaging more than 30 points per game, but the Packers have the more consistent and well-rounded team with the better defense and should win this game decisively.
Pick: Packers -3
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs – Saturday, 6:40 p.m. ET
Odds: Chiefs -3
The Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs have been two of the best teams in the AFC throughout the season, boasting two of the top offenses in the NFL, and now they meet in the AFC title game with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
The Bills have been one of the best and most consistent teams in the league this season, winning 11 of their last 12 games and enter Sunday night’s game riding an eight-game winning streak. Buffalo’s strength this season has been its offense, which ranks third in the NFL in scoring, averaging 30.3 points per game. That high-powered offense was at its best entering the playoffs, averaging more than 47 points per game in their last three games of the regular season.
Though offense has been Buffalo’s strength this season, its defense has been strong down the stretch. The Bills have held opponents to an average of just 16 points per game in their last six contests including two games in which they held their opponent to single digits scoring.
The Chiefs are the defending NFL champions and have been once again dominant this season, finishing with the top record in the league. Once again, Kansas City’s dominance has been due to its explosive offense which ranks first in the NFL with 417.1 yards per game and No. 5 in the league with 29.1 points per game.
Though the Chiefs have been the best team in the league all season, they haven’t necessarily dominated games, especially late in the season. Kansas City hasn’t won a game by more than one score in nine games, including last week’s narrow win over the Cleveland Browns.
The Chiefs might have the better record this season, but the Bills have been more dominant lately and enter this conference title game showdown with more momentum. Buffalo is the underdog, but the Bills will emerge victorious this year and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Pick: Bills +3