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NFL Conference Championship Game Picks

Predicting the winners of this week’s NFL games.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for the Conference Championship Round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs! Just two games left before we see who’s playing in Super Bowl LV.

The AFC Championship Game features the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Buffalo Bills while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are traveling to play the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Last year’s pick champion, John Stolnis, is still only one game away from tying the BGN community after last week’s Wild Card results. Ben Natan and I, meanwhile, are tied for the playoff record lead.

Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games by using the polls beneath the table.

2021 Conference Championship Games

BGN Picks BLG Alexis Stolnis Matt Tyler Shamus Natan Solak Lee BGN Readers
BGN Picks BLG Alexis Stolnis Matt Tyler Shamus Natan Solak Lee BGN Readers
Divisional Round 4-0 2-2 3-1 4-0 3-1 4-0 4-0 3-1 1-3 3-1
Playoffs Record 8-2 5-5 7-3 7-3 7-3 7-3 8-2 7-3 5-5 6-4
Season Record 174-92 156-110 179-87 173-93 171-95 172-94 168-98 172-94 152-112 180-86
Buccaneers at Packers Packers Buccaneers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Buccaneers Vote
Bills at Chiefs Bills Bills Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Bills Chiefs Chiefs Bills Vote

EXPLANATIONS

Since there are only two games this week, the BGN staff gave some explanations for their picks.

BRANDON LEE GOWTON

Packers — I was tempted to take the Bucs in an effort to jinx them. But I can’t bet against Aaron Rodgers right now. I don’t care that Tampa Bay’s defense found a way to shut him down earlier this season. That’s not going to happen again at Lambeau with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Bills — I said back in December that the Bills are going to win the Super Bowl. I’m not about to abandon them now. Buffalo simply wants this more. You gotta BILLieve!

ALEXIS CHASSEN

Buccaneers — After the unfortunate news that former Packers GM Ted Thompson passed away, my gut reaction was that Aaron Rodgers would lead Green Bay to an emotional win in his honor. But, the Packers aren’t just playing any team for the NFC Championship, and Tom Brady knows what it takes to win in the postseason — plus, you have to assume that Brady is looking to add an NFC crown to his (long) list of AFC Championships. I think the Buccaneers end up getting a narrow win over the Packers, for their first Super Bowl appearance since 2002.

Bills — Look, I love Andy Reid and think the Chiefs have all the talent they need to win back-to-back Super Bowls — assuming they get Patrick Mahomes back —, but ultimately, I think the Bills have been waiting for this kind of success for too long to just let it go. They have the type of momentum you could feel from the Eagles in 2017, and I think they at least do enough to win the AFC on their way to facing former division rival Tom Brady.

JOHN STOLNIS

Packers — When you watch Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers play on offense, it looks effortless. Rodgers seemingly knows what to do with the football on every single play and, behind a solid offensive line with Davante Adams and Aaron Jones at his disposal, I don’t see how anyone is stopping him right now. On the other hand, Tom Brady and the Bucs have a ton of talent, too, and seem to have hit their stride over the last few weeks. Playing on the road shouldn’t be as tough as it normally is in an NFC Championship Game, and Brady’s experience will go a long way. Still, I expect Rodgers to get the better of this match-up. Either way, we get to watch the two best QBs of this era battle it out with an invitation to the Super Bowl on the line. What could be better? Packers 35, Bucs 31.

Chiefs — The Bills’ season has been enchanted and I know a lot of people say it reminds them of the 2017 Eagles. I see it too. Josh Allen looks so much like ‘17 Wentz it’s crazy, and the rest of the team has this feel-good vibe to it that is contagious to the viewer. However, if the 2017 Eagles had to take on the 2020 Chiefs, I’m not sure there would have been a chance for them to play in Super Bowl 52. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are the most lethal duo in football right now, and since it looks like Mahomes is going to play on Sunday, you have to give this game to the defending Super Bowl champs, at home, in a high scoring affair. This one could be a classic. Chiefs 40, Bills 38.

MATT HARKENREADER

Packers — Tampa Bay walloped the Packers earlier in the season, scoring 38 unanswered points en route to a 4-touchdown victory. While Tom Brady is no stranger to cold-weather games, Lambeau in January is an entirely different animal. Matt LaFleur will have a smart gameplan with lessons learned from the first meeting, and Rodgers is simply too good to not get his revenge in the midst of an MVP-caliber season. If nothing else, how could I pick against a fellow Matt? The Pack wins “the Battle of the Bays,” 27-24, on a last-second field goal to avoid overtime.

Chiefs — I’m going to open with the cowardly take that the Chiefs only win if Mahomes plays. I’m picking them, so clearly I expect Mahomes to be under center for the game. The Bills are a great story, Josh Allen is insanely fun to watch, and I get a “2017 Eagles” vibe from them, but they are a young team without much playoff experience, playing on the road. I think Andy Reid gets the best of his old assistant after exorcising championship demons last year, and the Chiefs move on to their second straight Super Bowl after beating the Bills 34-26.

TYLER JACKSON

Packers — History usually doesn’t bode well for teams that are on the road for the third straight week and that’s the situation the Buccaneers find themselves in. Overall this will be their fifth road game in six weeks and the Packers have a home field advantage not just in the form of the frozen tundra, but a stadium loaded with fans. The point has been made that even the weather advantage may be taken away from the Packers, as Tom Brady has played most of his January’s in New England or Denver, but that doesn’t account for his teammates who haven’t had those same advantages. Mike Evans in particular has played his entire career in Tampa and before that at Texas A&M. Tampa Bay’s most likely path to a Super Bowl appearance is commiting to the run, something that will test the patience of Bruce Arians.

Chiefs — Even if Mahomes doesn’t play, and he likely will, I still like Kansas City. While the Bills have been a nice underdog story, the truth is they haven’t been wildly impressive this postseason. They were a drop from being down 17-7 near the end of the first half to the Colts and a two missed Justin Tucker field goals away from being down 9-3 against the Ravens. Factor in a missed blitz pickup from JK Dobbins on a play that would’ve been a touchdown before Lamar Jackson’s interception and Baltimore likely escapes with a win. The Chiefs’ offense gives them a larger margin for error than either of those two. I think Kansas City wins and easily covers.

SHAMUS CLANCY

Packers — Deprived for years of an Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady Super Bowl matchup as the duo asserted themselves as the greatest ever at their position, fans get a reward here in the NFC Championship Game. Being a Wild Card squad in a season where home-field advantage hasn’t mattered much, as the Buccaneers have pulled off two wins on the road, but that stops at Lambeau. Matt LaFleur’s offense gets the best of Todd Bowles’ stingy defense here.

Bills — The Patrick Mahomes injury situation will define how this game goes, but my heart says to pick Buffalo. No team has given off greater 2017 Philadelphia Eagles vibes in the years since that run, as the Bills even got their own Patrick Robinson moment last week. Apprentice Sean McDermott gets the best of his former boss in Andy Reid on Sunday.

BEN NATAN

Packers — Aaron Rodgers is playing some of the best football of his career right now. The Packers offense is unlike anything the Bucs have faced in the playoffs to this point.

Chiefs — Patrick Mahomes’ health is an x-factor, but all signs point to the former MVP being able to play. The Bills are red hot right now, but the Chiefs will be ready to send them home and move on to their second straight Super Bowl.

BENJAMIN SOLAK

Packers — The Bucs defense stopped this Packers offense once, and that already feels like too many times — I don’t think they can do it again. The return of Vita Vea would be big for the success of their run defense and the subsequent way they play zone coverage. The Antonio Brown injury hurts the Bucs’ passing game, which will have to keep pace with Green Bay’s attack. If they can run it well, they have a chance to shorten the game and keep it close.

Chiefs — I’d love to pick the Bills, but I won’t fade Mahomes. I expect him to be healthy and the Chiefs to unload their bag of tricks on offense, as they often do in the playoffs under Reid. This game should have 70+ points scored and may come down to the last possession, but even for all of the Bills’ energy and magic this season, I don’t think they have enough talent on defense to survive. Only a herculean Stefon Diggs game brings the win home for Buffalo. (edited)

LEE SIFFORD

Buccaneers — Tom Brady won’t stop winning Super Bowls until he’s 50, and he has warned us of such time and time again. His passing game brilliance paired with a top of the line rush defense has fans in Tampa thinking this might be the year, and I just might agree!

Bills — Buffalo fans may be the only people right now happier about Brady’s success in Tampa Bay than Buccaneers fans. Brady’s departure from New England left a gap atop the AFC East, and Josh Allen has capitalized. In what should be a shootout, the Bills sneak by to meet their long time foe once again

MAKE YOUR PICKS

Vote for your picks in the polls below, or perish.

Poll

Who will win: Buccaneers or Packers?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Buccaneers
    (326 votes)
  • 74%
    Packers
    (948 votes)
1274 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who will win: Bills or Chiefs?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Bills
    (652 votes)
  • 48%
    Chiefs
    (613 votes)
1265 votes total Vote Now

Get ready for this week’s games with SB Nation’s weekly NFL preview podcast — The Look Ahead: