The Battle of the Bay’s.
NFL Championship Sunday is finally here and while today’s games are both set up to determine which two teams are most deserving of playing for the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, but for Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, it means just a little bit more.
These two Quarterbacks have been aligned through greatness for years. Their work ethic’s are unmatched, and with age came even more opportunity in a sport where young people are suppose to dominate.
Aaron Rodgers at 37 years old has done basically everything one can in his 16th season, but there is one little box that is yet to be checked in his stories career, and that is beating fellow great Tom Brady in the playoffs.
For Brady, it is absolutely surreal to look around at his counterparts around the league. Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger are all hanging them up or getting ready to. Meanwhile, Brady is ready to take part in his 14th NFL conference title game, with no signs of slowing down.
Sure, he isn’t doing what he use to, flinging the ball everywhere and anywhere down field and hitting whatever target he needed to. Yet, he feels smarter than he ever has when out on the field. He brings a feeling of unity and resilience to a Buccs team that has never even been close to where they are now, the Brady effect.
These two men will go head towhead for the first time ever in the playoffs from Lambeau Field in Wisconsin, where it appears to be pretty frosty.
Lambeau looking 🥶 ❄️
— Stadium (@Stadium) January 24, 2021
Two of the most efficient and clutch QB’s to ever play in the NFL, they have combined for 130,449 career yards passing and 993 touchdown passes, that is the most ever in a conference championship starting quarterback matchup in both categories.
A combined age of 80 years and 227 days, the oldest by starting quarterbacks ever in a conference title game.
This sets up to be a very intense, close and tactical Football game, the number one objective for both offences will be to keep the opposing teams offence off the field for as long as they can.
For Brady, many people criticized his move to Tampa Bay and said that after all New England and Coach Bill Belichek provided him, it was his duty to stick by the Patriots and help them transition.
Tom had other plans though, leaving to the Buccaneers and bringing his friend Rob Gronkowski with him. Now, preparing for the NFC Championship in the strangest season of all, is nothing short of insane.
Keep in mind, that this Tampa Bay team never had an offseason to use to gel together. They were a new group of teammates that needed o adjust on the fly and hit their stride late in the season, and that is exactly what they have done.
For Aaron Rodgers, this game means a bit more. Going up against what is the proclaimed ‘greatest” to ever do it, Rodgers’ destiny will be heavily influenced by the result of this game. For what should be a unanimous MVP campaign in the books, Aaron Rodgers has two more goals to accomplish, beat the best.
Rodgers vs. Brady. #NFLPlayoffs
— NFL (@NFL) January 24, 2021
As for the game, it is definitely going to be a barn-burner. -2 degrees Celsius at Lambeau has to give a slight advantage to Green Bay who have been playing in it consistently over the season. Brady himself has become accustomed pretty chilly conditions over his 20 seasons in Foxborough, but the rest of the Buccaneers will need to quickly adjust and overcome, especially the defence.
Where the game will be there for Tampa Bay is on that same defensive side of the Football. Last week in their vengeful victory over rival New Orleans, their secondary was relatively unbeatable through the air. Drew Brees was held to just 57% completions and the Buccs were able to force key turnovers, if they can do the same today, their fortunes will be in good hands.
On offence for Tampa, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette will go a very long way. The two running backs have had their inconsistencies over the campaign, but feel as if they’re hitting their final form at the right time. Running the ball and controlling clock is the only true way to beat the Packers in their barn, the air attack will need too feed off a successful ground game, and the red zone will mean everything.
For the Packers, the keys to success are a little more clear than their counterparts. Their MVP needs to be their MVP. Stud Receiver Davante Adams needs to allow for his versatility and wide range of usage to attract the defence towards him and open up other players. And Head Coach Matt Lefleur will have to prepare a steady gameplay for getting Tom Brady.
If there is one thing 43 year old Quarterbacks don’t like, it is getting hit. If there is anything they don’t like more than getting hit, it is getting hit in the freezing cold wind chill of the frozen tundra.
The Buccs have the recency trend in their favour, as they embarrassed Green Bay earlier in the season 38-10, one of their most substantial victories on the year. That day, the Packers actually looked fantastic for 15 minutes, but they struggled to adjust and eventually the turnovers and lack of defensive structure hurt them.
I expect a different story today, what is to be a battle for the ages and will probably come down to who is more clutch in the fourth quarter. Two men who have the upmost respect for one another and their respective careers, but have never once played each other in the Postseason.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 24, 2021
My prediction, Green Bay Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24.
The revenge factor has a lot to do with my prediction. As the Buccs had last weekend against the Saints, the Packers come into this game with a salty taste in this mouths from the beating they took early in the season at the hands of Tampa.
Aaron Rodgers will be the difference, his ability to escape the pocket is still a threat even if it isn’t as clean and quick as it once was. I expect Rodgers to use his legs in key moments and find his weapons when need be.
Most importantly, I believe the Packers defence can be stout in the red zone, and contrary to that, I truly do not believe the Packers can be stopped in the red zone.
Can’t wait for this one.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9