ST. LOUIS, Mo- The National Football League playoff race is down to four teams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play at the Green Bay Packers (2:05 pm kickoff Sunday on FOX2) for the NFC Championship, while the Buffalo Bills travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs for the AFC title (5:40 pm, CBS). The winners meet in Super Bowl LV in Tampa on February 7.
Don’t have a dog in the hunt? Looking for reasons to care who makes it? Here’s a breakdown of some storylines that might pique your interest from a St. Louis area perspective.
All for clubs have them, some more than others.
Tampa Bay: Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert (Parkway West/Missouri) is Tom Brady’s understudy.
Green Bay: Linebacker Christian Kirksey (Hazelwood East/Iowa) has been a key defensive cog for the Packers after signing as a free agent following his tenure in Cleveland, where he first came to fame for a video game glitch.
Buffalo: Rookie defensive end A.J. Epenesa (Edwardsville/Iowa) has contributed this season, while Mitch Morse (Missouri) is the starting center and a former Kansas City Chief. Practice squad defensive end Bryan Cox, Jr. was born in St. Louis but raised in Florida, where his father, the East St. Louis alum, made a name for himself as part of the Miami Dolphins. Because of COVID 19, you never know, someone on a practice squad could be elevated at a moment’s notice.
Kansas City: The Chiefs have the most players with local ties. OL Yasir Durant (Missouri), DT Khalen Saunders (Parkway Central/Western Illinois), Tershawn Wharton (University City/Missouri S&T), Guard Nick Allegretti (Illinois).
If you’re still a St. Louis Rams fan and you hold a grudge, then you probably don’t want Tom Brady to get another shot at winning a Super Bowl ring (would be his seventh).
The Bills are in a position they haven’t been since 1994, when they defeated the Chiefs and pounded Joe Montana en route to their fourth straight Super Bowl defeat. A win Sunday would send them to the city where they lost their first, in heartbreaking fashion, thanks to a Scott Norwood wide right field goal. Or is it time for Kansas City to return the favor?
As Pro Football Talk points out, the Chiefs are now only the second team to ever host three consecutive conference championship games. The first team ever? Andy Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles. One note of caution—Only one of Reid’s Eagles teams made it to the next step.
No team has ever won a Super Bowl playing in that team’s home venue, so history could be made if Tampa were able to pull it off. Of course, a Bills fan might call it karma if they were able to beat the Bucs (and longtime nemesis Tom Brady) there, of all places.
The State Farm ads will be there regardless, but the insurance company would figure to be a big winner if we end up with a Patrick Mahomes vs. Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl.