They say time heals all wounds, but one week later just isn't it when it comes to the Saints season ending prematurely. New Orleans had a valiant run, but succumbed to Tom Brady and the Bucs last week. Now, it's a dream scenario quarterback duel on our hands going into the NFC Championship with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looking to avenge their ugly 38-10 regular season loss in mid-October.
The Saints played Brady three times this season, while also playing Rodgers back in Week 3. Tampa enters this game hot, knocking off New Orleans in the Divisional Round and the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card, both on the road. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Brady has 25 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions on the road this season (including playoffs). He has 0 picks in his last 9 road games, and is the 3rd starting QB in NFL history with 0 interceptions in 9 straight road games (including playoffs). He's the only one to do it in a single season.
Tampa will need that magic today, as it's hard to see them dethroning Green Bay. What's at stake for them is a trip to play the Super Bowl in their own backyard. They have to stop the likely NFL MVP to do so. The Packers, fresh off their 32-18 Divisional Round win over the Rams, got a three-touchdown day out of Rodgers that helped fuel the victory. He went 23-of-36 for 296 yards and 2 passing touchdowns, adding a 1-yard rushing score in the later stages of the first half. In the regular season meeting against Tampa, Rodgers was pretty bad, finishing 16-of-35 for 160 yards and 2 picks.
Here's some thoughts on the game from Saints News Network writer and colleague Brendan Boylan.
Hard to believe that the NFL’s two 2010’s All-Decade team quarterbacks have never met in the playoffs before, but that will change on Sunday afternoon. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will battle with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship game. Rodgers, the likely NFL MVP, has the Packers’ offense flying high and will seek revenge after being dismantled by the Buccaneers in the regular season.
For Brady, his first season in the NFC has been a success to this point and looks to top it off with another trip to the Super Bowl. With 20-degree snowy weather in the forecast for Sunday, the Pack look to cool down a hot Tampa Bay team behind a well-rounded offensive attack and tough coverage across the board. It is never easy to play in Green Bay, especially in January… with that being said Rodgers’ stellar play in 2020-21 won’t be stopped by a young defensive backfield on Sunday and the Packers will be the first team to punch their ticket to this year’s Super Bowl with a 34-20 victory.
Whether you're a fan of either team or not, it's going to be a great day to watch football. Be sure to check out Bob Rose's AFC Championship Preview between the Bills and Chiefs. It all goes down on FOX at 2:05 p.m. CT, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call.
Final Score Prediction: Packers 30, Bucs 23