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Football

🏈Buccaneers, Chiefs, and 22,000 Fans Are Going to the Super Bowl

January 25, 2021
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

NFC Champions: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for quarterback (QB) Tom Brady yesterday. Sure, he threw three touchdowns (TDs) in the Bucs 31–26 win over the Green Bay Packers and he’s going to the Super Bowl again...

  • But Brady also threw three straight interceptions to end the game on a bit of a sour note. Luckily for him, his defense picked up the slack to stave off the Packers’ second half comeback. 
  • The Bucs will become the first team to ever have home field advantage at the Super Bowl. Because of course Tom Brady broke the curse

AFC Champions: It was only the best of times for Kansas City’s QB Patrick Mahomes, who threw three TDs and zero interceptions in KC’s 38–24 win over the Buffalo Bills. If there was any worry of lingering effects from the concussion he suffered last week, Mahomes quickly put those fears to bed.

  • Like Brady, Mahomes had a solid defense to propel the win. Unlike Brady, Mahomes relied heavily on his tight end, Travis Kelce (pronounced KEL-SEE), who tied a record for most receptions in a conference championship with 13. 
  • With the win, KC now has a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls, the first team to do so since...sarcastic drum roll...Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2005. 

Up next: Before we can get to the biggest football game of the year, we have to first endure the most boring game of the year: next Sunday’s Pro Bowl. Once described as “a pillow fight,” the NFL’s version of an All-Star game will take place virtually this year, with the chosen rosters competing via Madden NFL 21. Fire up the PS5.

🏈NFL Conference Championships Preview

January 21, 2021
Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

NFC Championship: Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers: The Bucs have two big things going for them this weekend: history — the last time they made it to the conference championship in 2003, they won the Super Bowl — and six-time Super Bowl champ QB Tom Brady (who’s competing in his record 14th conference championship, BTW) at the helm.

  • But they also have one major thing working against them: this year’s Super Bowl is being held in Tampa, and a home team has never competed in the Super Bowl. The Packers are banking on this — and their own Super Bowl-winning QB, Aaron Rodgers — to get them through.

AFC Championship: Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET

Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Considering their last AFC Championship appearance was in 1994, the Bills think the Bucs’ 18-year drought is cute. But they’re focusing on bigger things right now: namely, which QB will their top-notch defense face on Sunday?

  • KC QB and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes left last Sunday’s game with a concussion, leaving back-up Chad Henne to take over. Mahomes practiced yesterday, but given the nature of the injury, we’re not betting on him playing just yet.

The GIST’s Conference Championship

GISTer vs. GISTer: Want in on the football action, too? We thought you’d say yes. That’s why we’ve partnered with FanDuel for a super-easy, GISTer-exclusive NFL fantasy contest. Here’s the deal: 

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  • Step 3: That’s it. Sit back and enjoy the games. 

What’s in it for you? Bragging rights and cash prizes. You pay $2 to play and $500 is up for grabs. The weekly winner takes home $100, and the top 20% of GISTers earn cash. Join our fantasy contest here.* 

🏈NFL Conference Championships Preview

January 18, 2021
Source: NFL/Twitter
Source: NFL/Twitter

AFC Championship

Buffalo Bills: Here’s something we haven’t heard since Kim Campbell was prime minister: the Buffalo Bills are Super Bowl contenders. It took them a while to warm up against the Baltimore Ravens in Saturday night’s game, going into halftime with a 3–3 tie, but once they got going, they never looked back.

  • The Bills took the game 17–3 to move on to their first conference final since the 1993–94 season. And to celebrate the win, Bills fans donated money to Ravens quarterback (QB) Lamar Jackson’s charities as a sign of respect for the elite QB. Be still, our hearts!

Kansas City Chiefs: Win the game, lose the QB. KC won their matchup 22–17 against the Cleveland Browns yesterday, but lost reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes to a concussion in the process. Vet QB Chad Henne subbed in to solidify the win, but it’s still too soon to know who will start next weekend.

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers: The LA Rams never really stood a chance. Over 8,000 cheeseheads showed up to watch QB Aaron Rodgers lead the Packers to a 32–18 win on Saturday afternoon. That home-field advantage helped send the Pack to their fourth conference final in seven years and a chance at another Super Bowl a decade after their last.

Bucs: At 43, QB Tom Brady proved that age is but a number in last night’s primetime game against the New Orleans Saints, who were led by young gun QB Drew Brees (who turned 42 on Friday). The Bucs won 30–20 (with a big helping hand from the defense) and Brady is now on his way to his first-ever NFC Championship, but record 14th career conference championship. 

🏈NFL Division Playoffs

January 14, 2021
SOURCE: FORBES
SOURCE: FORBES

Saturday

LA Rams vs. Green Bay Packers, 4:35 p.m. ET: What happens to the old adage “defense wins championships” when both teams have stacked Ds? That’s where the offense comes in, and considering LA’s injury woes, Packers quarterback (QB) Aaron Rodgers should be the difference maker in this game.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET: Here’s the deal: it’s supposed to snow in Buffalo on Saturday. The issue? Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has never played football in the snow. So while the cold never bothered the Bills anyway, the Ravens will likely have to rely on running back (RB) J.K. Dobbins.

Sunday

Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 3:05 p.m. ET: The Browns are still flying high after embarrassing the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but they better get focused. Kansas City is coming off a bye, and a well-rested duo of tight end (TE) Travis Kelce and wide receiver (WR) Tyreek Hill is terrifying for any team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints, 6:40 p.m. ET: It’s the battle of the boomers (okay, not quite!), with 43-year-old QB Tom Brady’s Bucs visiting 41-year-old QB Drew Brees’ Saints. The Bucs are 0-2 against the Saints this season...but something tells us the Saints won’t earn the sweep.

All weekend

You vs. other GISTers: As the Wild Card winners prep for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, you can prep for the second week of FanDuel’s GISTer-exclusive weekly fantasy contest.

  • Fortunately, it’s pretty easy (and so fun!). All you have to do is select nine players to be part of your ideal NFL playoff team, and info about each player is accessible through FanDuel’s platform.
     
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🏈NFL Wildcard Weekend Recap

January 11, 2021
SOURCE: NFL/TWITTER
SOURCE: NFL/TWITTER

The expected: To no one’s surprise, quarterback (QB) Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a wild-card win in Saturday’s primetime game against the Washington Football Team (WFT).

  • WFT back-up QB Taylor Heinicke (pronounced HIGH-NUH-KEY) gave them a run for their money, but Brady, who has now beat 17 different teams in the playoffs over his career, was never in doubt.
  • Just hours earlier, the No. 2 seed Buffalo Bills edged out the Indianapolis Colts for their first playoff win in 25 years, and the New Orleans Saints beat the Chicago Bears in a bit of a snoozefest yesterday.

The unexpected: The LA Rams gave us the first shock, beating the heavily-favored Seattle Seahawks in their own house on Saturday afternoon. Moreover, they won with their QB Jared Goff, who was supposed to still be recovering from thumb surgery, when their backup-turned-starter QB John Wolford was sent to the hospital after a nasty hit.

  • Then yesterday, Baltimore Ravens QB and 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was finally vindicated when his Baltimore Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans, securing his first-ever playoff win. It helped that the Ravens’ defense held Titans running back “King” Derrick Henry to just 40 yards.
  • And in the most unexpected turn of events, the Pittsburgh Steelers forgot how to football. Literally. Just. Forgot. The COVID-19-depleted Cleveland Browns were up 28–0 before the first quarter was finished for the most unanswered points scored in any first quarter in NFL postseason history. They went on to win 48–37. OMG.