NFL

NFL conference championship finals: dates, times & previews

On the NFC side, the Packers will host the Buccaneers at Lambeau Field. On the AFC side, the Chiefs host the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.

NFL conference championship finals: dates, times & previews
Stacy Revere AFP

Three of the NFL's top four playoff seeds advanced to the conference championship this weekend, setting up a couple of mouth-watering matchups for NFL fans.

All four teams have top-level quarterbacks, though the status of Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes is uncertain after his concussion in the divisional round. Those passers will surely make Sunday a special occasion for postseason action with a significant national draw.

No. 1 Packers vs No. 5 Buccaneers

Date: Sunday January 24 | Time: 3:05 p.m. ET

Opening line: Packers -4

The Packers, who last made the Super Bowl 10 years ago despite NFC title game trips in 2014, 2016 and 2019, will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The NFC title game will be a battle of future Hall of Famers as Aaron Rodgers will face the Bucs' veteran Tom Brady in their first postseason matchup. Brady will be appearing in a conference championship game for the 14th time in his career, but the first on the NFC side of the bracket, after the Buccaneers dispatched Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans.

The Bucs' Tom Brady is the league's all-time leader in touchdown passes (581), with Rodgers coming in seventh on that list (412). Brady pretty much just didn't have to stumble over himself to beat the Saints, with Tampa Bay's defense feasting on misfired passes. Rodgers, meanwhile, remains maybe the hottest arm in football after dispatching the Rams. Green Bay has been the more complete team all year, but one of its few major slip-ups in 2020 came against the Buccaneers, who've now won six straight dating back to mid-December.

These two teams met in Week 6, when the Packers were blown out, 38-10, in Tampa. It was Green Bay's worst loss of the season. What's interesting is that both the Packers game and Buccaneers game this past weekend tallied exactly 50 points.

Tampa Bay may have trounced them early in the season, and the Bucs can go toe to toe with anyone when they're actually throwing downfield. But the Packers deserve to be favourites in this one. They're at home with an extra day of rest, and more importantly, Rodgers is playing some of his best football.

No. 1 Chiefs vs No. 2 Bills

Date: Sunday January 24 | Time: 6:40 p.m. ET

Opening line: Chiefs -3

The last time the Bills and Chiefs met in the postseason, it was in the 1993 AFC Championship Game. Kansas City is back in the AFC title game for the third time in three years, proving Andy Reid's brilliance atop the staff. The real question, however, is whether surviving the Browns cost the Chiefs something even greater:

While the Chiefs have proven capable of winning without their star man Mohames before, this is a different kind of stage. Buffalo, on the other hand, has yet to fully hit its stride offensively in the playoffs but sure showcased its defense against the Ravens, bottling up one of the game's best rushing attacks and coming up especially big near the red zone.

If Mahomes is cleared to play, the Chiefs will remain favourites. But even if he were fully healthy, this wouldn't be a gimme for K.C. The Bills are due to break out at some point with Allen under center, and their "D" doesn't quit. If ever there were a time for someone to unseat the Chiefs, it feels like it could be now. An interesting stat to be aware of coming into this matchup is that the Chiefs have now gone nine straight games without winning by more than six points. Since Week 9, they are 1-8 against the spread.

Teams eliminated from the 2020-2021 NFL Playoffs

New Orleans Saints (lost to the Buccaneers in the Divisional Round)

Cleveland Browns (lost to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round)

Baltimore Ravens (lost to the Bills in the Divisional Round)

Los Angeles Rams (lost to the Packers in the Divisional Round)

Indianapolis Colts (lost to the Bills on Wild Card Weekend)

Seattle Seahawks (lost to the Rams on Wild Card Weekend)

Washington Football Team (lost to the Buccaneers on Wild Card Weekend)

Tennessee Titans (lost to the Ravens on Wild Card Weekend)

Chicago Bears (lost to the Saints on Wild Card Weekend)

Pittsburgh Steelers (lost to the Browns on Wild Card Weekend)