The National Football League‘s (NFL) Conference Championships are set to kickoff tomorrow with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed by the Kansas City Chiefs entertaining the Buffalo Bills.
Last week, we attempted to go four-for-four – sadly, we picked only three of four games correct, which is not bad, but I guess I should not overlook the Bills this week, right?
Any who, let’s dish out some picks for tomorrow’s games – let the countdown for the conference finals begin!
Listen to this week’s Football Friday Podcast featuring Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcast and Spotify!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, January 24 at 3:05 p.m.): Sunday will mark the first time Tom Brady will be competing in the NFC Championship after appearing in the AFC title game 13 times as a member of the New England Patriots. Brady and the Buccaneers have enjoyed a magical ride this postseason and will arrive in Green Bay with a great deal of momentum. But can the Buccaneers defense slow down Aaron Rodgers and the offense, which has won 10 of their last 12 contests? I would presume they can – it is not a given, of course, but they did earlier this season. Additionally, can the Green Bay defense slow down Brady and the Buccaneers offense? Maybe? Either way, this has the making of an exciting match-up, but in the end, the Buccaneers – yes, the Buccaneers! – will prevail. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, Green Bay 27
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, January 24 at 6:40 p.m.): The Chiefs are making their third-straight appearance in the AFC Championship game after scoring a hard-fought 22-17 win last week against the Cleveland Browns. Patrick Mahomes is supposed to be under center for the Chiefs tomorrow after sustaining a concussion on Sunday. And as long as Mahomes is on the field then I think it is hard to pick against Kansas City. Buffalo has been a great story this season – I really like Josh Allen – but sadly, their exciting run toward the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1993 will conclude at Arrowhead Stadium with a heartbreaking defeat. Sorry, Bills Mafia! PREDICTION: Kansas City 31, Buffalo 21
By now you probably have heard that Tom Brady – yes, the former New England Patriots quarterback – is headed back to the conference championship for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneersrallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, 30-20, last night in the NFC Divisional Round to secure a date next Sunday with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
For the most part, Brady’s trips to the conference championship have resulted in trips to the “big game” – that would be the Super Bowl, to be exact – while some have ended in disappointment. But Sunday will mark the veteran signal-caller’s first appearance in the NFC Championship after appearing in 13 AFC title games.
Being a history nerd, as well as a lifelong football fan, I thought we could get ready for this weekend’s big game by revisiting all of Tom Brady’s past appearances in the conference championship round, beginning with his initial appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2002.
January 27, 2002: Eight days after leading the Patriots past the Oakland Raiders in what has been dubbed the “snow bowl,” Brady received some help from Drew Bledsoe, who replaced the young quarterback who sustained a sprained ankle late in the second quarter. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown while the defense limited Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns during the final two sessions.
January 18, 2004: Eight days after a dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and the Patriots outlasted Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14.
While Brady tossed one touchdown in the win, it was the New England defense, specifically Ty Law, who highlighted the victory – the unit intercepted Manning four times while recording four sacks.
New England would advance to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.
January 23, 2005: Supposedly, Tom Brady was sick prior to his team’s championship meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked pretty good once the game commenced. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards while Corey Dillon led all rushers with 73 yards on 24 carries.
New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later where they would beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-21.
January 21, 2007: After scoring back-to-back wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots entered the 2006 AFC Championship game with a lot of momentum. However, it slowly disappeared early in the third quarter as Indianapolis erased a 21-6 deficit to beat the Patriots, 38-34.
The Colts limited Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to just 13 points in the second half while Peyton Manning finished the game with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).
January 20, 2008: Tom Brady played the role of gunslinger in this particular match-up with the San Diego Chargers by completing 22 of 33 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Patriots won their 18th straight contest before falling to the New York Giants two weeks later in the Super Bowl.
January 22, 2012: This was perhaps the most dramatic AFC Championship game for Tom Brady and the Patriots as they somehow edged the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, thanks to a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.
Tom Brady rushed for one score in the win, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 15 carries.
Sadly, the dramatic win was quickly forgotten two weels later when New England lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.
January 20, 2013: Tom Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown – he also threw two interceptions – but it wasn’t enough to send the Patriots past the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore erased memories of the 2011 championship meeting with an impressive 28-13 victory, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco.
January 19, 2014: For the second-straight season, the Patriots won 13 of 18 contests, but their final outing with the Denver Broncos concluded with a 26-16 setback. Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Broncos defense limited Tom Brady to just two touchdowns – one through the air, one on the ground.
New England’s defense intercepted Andrew Luck twice – they also limited Dan Herron to 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.
The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season to beat the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to a late-game interception by Malcolm Butler.
January 24, 2016: Weeks after losing to the Denver Broncos in the regular season, the Orange and Blue scored their second victory of the 2015 season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady was sacked four times and picked-off twice, but he did toss one touchdown against a talented Broncos defense.
Peyton Manning concluded the game 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked three times.
January 22, 2017: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the better team in this meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady tossed three touchdowns, including two to Chris Hogan, who concluded the contest with nine grabs on 12 targets for 180 yards.
January 21, 2018: After knocking off the Tennessee Titans eight days earlier, the Patriots scored their second-straight postseason win against a member of the AFC South. New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.
Sadly, the exciting win against the Jaguars would follow with a disappointing setback to the Philadelphia Eagles.
January 20, 2019: Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead highlighted an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs by combining for 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Burkhead clinched the victory in overtime while Tom Brady concluded the contest with 348 passing yards and one touchdowns.
Kansas City did intercept Brady twice while Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. New England would go onto capture their sixth Super Bowl with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s time for another BUSY weekend of professional football – are you ready for the National Football League‘s (NFL) Divisional Round?
I am, despite picking four of six games correct last week – I thought the Chicago Bears were going to upset the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks were going to beat the Los Angeles Rams, but like I sad in 2020, what do I know?
Let’s see if I can go four-for-four with picks this weekend – fingers crossed, of course! – but in the meantime, I hope everyone continues to stay safe, happy, and healthy!
Have a great weekend and let’s get ready for some great football – let’s go!
Get ready for a BUSY weekend of football by listening to the Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4:35 p.m.): The last time the Rams beat the Packers in the postseason they were representing St. Louis, not Los Angeles. And it happened to be in the second round of the 2001 postseason – January 2002, to be exact. Can they do it again? Maybe, but for the Rams to score an upset win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, they must control the time of possession while receiving some help from their defense. Prediction: Green Bay 24, Los Angeles 14
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m.): This is a toss-up – both teams are capable of winning this matchup! – but the Ravens may have the edge, thanks to its rushing attack. But the same could be said for its defense, too, which limited Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries (2.2 yards per carry) last week. Buffalo received some help last week from the Indianapolis Colts‘ coaching staff, which made some strange decisions in both halves. PREDICTION: Baltimore 28, Buffalo 17
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3:05 p.m.): The Browns have not appeared in the Divisional Round since 1994 when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 29-9. Cleveland beat Pittsburgh last week in a bizarre and crazy first-round matchup, but I am not sure they’re capable of slowing down the defending Super Bowl champions. Kansas City will push ahead for good early in the third quarter and secure a home date for the AFC Championship. PREDICTION: Kansas City 30, Cleveland 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 6:40 p.m.):Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are peaking at the right time. Sure, they didn’t manhandle the Washington Football Team last week, but they certainly looked pretty good. And while Tampa Bay may have lost both meetings with Drew Brees and the Saints earlier this season, I think the third time is the charm for Bruce Arians‘ team. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, New Orleans 25
Welcome to our first official ‘Tech Tuesday’ post from Noontime Sports!
Our weekly post will highlight innovation, tech, business, events, and entrepreneurism in the sports (and yes, athletic) world, and we begin our new weekly series with an interesting story from Front Office Sports (FOS) about John Skipper and De Le Batard teaming-up for a “politically progressive sports media company.”
We learned of Dan Le Batard collaborating with his former ESPN boss on a new venture last week – Matt Noonan highlighted it in his ‘Sunday Thoughts‘ column – and according to FOS, the startup is targeting some former colleagues, including Jemele Hill, who currently writes for The Atlantic.
The Le Batard-Skipper venture is just the first
Here are some other news and notes (that you should know on this particular Tuesday):
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing legislation allow “sports wagering” in his state.
Massachusetts residents were unable to attend New England Patriots home games last fall due to the coronavirus, but will have a reason to visit Gillette Stadium later this year. The home of the six-time Super Bowl champions will serve as a “vaccination site to the general public.”
Sunday’s postseason clash between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints was not just seen on CBS, but also Nickelodeon. Adults loved watching the game – who didn’t enjoy the slime cannons? – but what did children think of the contest?
Happy Sunday, everyone – I hope this post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and enjoying a busy weekend of football.
I am back for my second-straight ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column – thank you to everyone that stopped by last week, and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and opinions on a few sports items, along with some podcast suggestions, too.
As mentioned last week, I am excited to produce some new content and look forward to writing this post every week. Additionally, I hope you look forward to reading this column, too – any suggestions or ideas are welcome!
So, without further ado, here is my thoughts and ideas on sports, life, and more for Sunday, January 10 – be well, stay safe, and think positive thoughts, everyone!
Last week, I went into a bit more depth on my thoughts, but today, I am going to dish out a few more thoughts – 10, to be exact – and get right to the point, so here we go:
Thought No. 1: Is it just me or is watching Tom Brady in the postseason with another team difficult to watch? To be honest, I found myself rooting for the Washington Football Team last night because of Taylor Heinicke, but deep down, I knew the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to win. And last night’s win proved that Brady can win a postseason game without Bill Belichick.
Thought No. 3:Josh Allen is hands down the best quarterback taken in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Yes, I know that is an opinion, but he found a way to lead his team to its first postseason win yesterday since 1995. Allen has played great this season and deserves more credit for his improvement under Brian Daboll.
Thought No. 4: Due to Covid-19 protocols, NBC’s Mike Tirico was forced to call last night’s Tampa Bay-Washington contest from his house. And to be honest, he sounded great – I mean, he always sounds good, right? Tirico will be heard more over the next few weeks with the National Hockey League (NHL) starting-up its season later this week, but I think what we witnessed last night is the opportunity more networks (and maybe streaming services?) to allow their broadcasters to call games remotely. Of course, there is nothing better than calling a game in an actual arena or stadium – you do miss certain things when you’re not in the building – but if there is one thing we have learned these last few months it is that broadcasts (and other work) can be done from homes and apartments, along with studios, too.
Thought No. 5: A few days ago, I saw a great tweet – well, more some amazing career advice from Imry Halevi, who is the assistant director of athletics, multimedia, and production at Harvard University, about finding your way in this very competitive (and yes, crowded) sports world: “There is no ‘right way’ to get that perfect job. No straight line from A to Z.” I encourage everyone to read this tweet and share some thoughts (below!). Imry is someone I admire – he is innovative, as well as a great follow with tons of tremendous advice on the field.
Thought No. 6: The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a Covid-19 problem. And they need to do something about it as soon as possible. I am not saying this because of the Boston Celticsinjury report, which was released last night – is that game still happening later? – but because it is extremely hard to play basketball in a different city three or four nights each week. But as Austin Rivers of the New York Knicks explained, “If we do our job and remain available, it gives us a chance to win every night.”
Thought No. 10: I’ll take Alabama over Ohio State tomorrow night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Go Tide!
Podcast Interview Suggestion: Listen to Paul Liberman, who is the co-founder of DraftKings, on The VentureFizz Podcast, which is hosted by Keith Cline. It is a great interview that tells the story of DraftKings – you also gain some tremendous insight on starting your own venture, too.