NFL Championship Sunday viewing guide

Sports

(Top) Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (AP/Mark LoMoglio); (Bottom) Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen (AP/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

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.

LOCAL PLAYERS

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).

KARMA

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?

HISTORY

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.

ENDORSEMENTS

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.

St. Louis Sports

FOX2 Sports is your home for the latest information about the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Illinois.

Are the Cardinals making a big trade? Are the Blues ready for another Stanley Cup run? Is someone going to sign a major free-agent deal? Are the Tigers, Billikens and Illini bringing in the next big recruiting class? We cover all the big games that matter.

The MLS is coming to St. Louis in 2023 and we’ll be here for the start of STL SC too. The XFL thrived in its reboot season playing at the Dome at America’s Center, and if the BattleHawks return in 2022, we’ll be there to tackle it.

St. Louis is home to some of the best high school student-athletes who go on to succeed in the pros and beyond. Before Larry Hughes, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum made a name for themselves as Division I NCAA basketball stars at SLU, Florida, and Duke, they played at CBC and Chaminade. Before Ezekiel Elliott, Sheldon Richardson and Jeremy Maclin became Ohio State Buckeyes and Missouri Tigers and NFL first-round draft picks, they went to John Burroughs, Gateway Tech and Kirkwood. All of them were featured in the FOX2 Prep Zone before they went off to the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and beyond.

Members of our team, including Sports Director Martin Kilcoyne, Charlie Marlow, and Rich Gould have covered every significant moment in St. Louis sports since 1987, from the football Cardinals’ departure for Arizona to the arrival of the St. Louis Rams; from the Mark McGwire home run chase to the Cardinals’ World Series titles, to the St. Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf era’s Super Bowl crown; from Brett Hull to Vladimir Tarasenko, we’ve covered the Blues all the way to the team’s first Stanley Cup.

Think of all the great characters in St. Louis area sports history. Jack Buck, Mike Shannon, Charlie Spoonhour, Norm Stewart, Whitey Herzog, Tony LaRussa, Stan Musial, Dick Vermiel, Lou Brock, Albert Pujols, Kurt Warner, Ozzie Smith, Hull, Pat Maroon, Keith Tkachuk, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, David Freese. All of them talk to us.

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