(CBS Local)- This Sunday’s championship games feature a set of rematches from the same week of the regular season. In Week 6, the Buccaneers walloped the Packers 38-10 and the Chiefs used their run game and defense to hold off the Bills 26-17. The script has been flipped this weekend though as the Packers and Chiefs are hosting the Bucs and Bills.
In the NFC matchup, the first meeting saw the Packers jump out to a 10-0 lead before Bucs defense harassed Aaron Rodgers into a pick six and another interception that set up a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Ronald Jones on back-to-back drives. Overall, Tampa allowed just 201 yards, sacked Rodgers five times and allowed just 2.7 yards per pass.
Entering the second matchup, however, NFL on CBS analyst Jay Feely says that he expects the defenses to be at more of a disadvantage this time around because both veteran quarterbacks, Rodgers and Brady have already seen what the opposing defense has tried to do to them.
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“I think when you look at both of these quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and how successful they have been, they’re successful because they understand what teams are trying to do to them and they have answers for what they do. Tom’s told me for a long time, ‘I’ve seen everything that coordinators try and do.’ That allows you to have answers before you take the test. Aaron Rodgers is the exact same way,” said Feely. “Playing them previously probably helps both of those quarterbacks because it allows them to look at what defensive coordinators did. It allows them to understand what they tried to do to them, what their intent was in how to take them away. And that gives them a good window into what they want to do going forward. I think the defensive coordinators on both teams are going to be at a disadvantage with these quarterbacks.”
Despite the lopsided score of the first matchup, Brady didn’t exactly light it up throwing for just 166 yards on 17-27 passing. To Feely’s point, the expectation is that the second time around, both quarterbacks will be better.
The other noticeable difference in this rematch will be the weather. In Week 6, the teams were in sunny Tampa. This week, they’ll be at Lambeau Field, with temperatures on game day in the 20s and some expected snow fall early in the day. This time of year, cold weather environments are the norm and Feely says he doesn’t expect that to affect either quarterback, rather he says it might help.
“Tom Brady told me going into Kansas City a couple of years ago when it was going to be a really cold game in that AFC Championship that he loves playing in the cold because their bodies slow down, but his mind doesn’t. When they (defenders) can’t move as quick, when your body’s not quite as fluid, when you don’t feel quite as good,” said Feely. “When you’re a little lethargic and your slower because you’re so cold, their mind is still going as fast as it is and they’re able to process and get to the receiver they want to get to and you can’t respond in time, that’s certainly makes an advantage for these veteran quarterbacks. Just another reason why I think both quarterbacks have the advantage in this game.”
The total for the game is set at 51 points so the oddsmakers feel there will be a decent amount of offense in this game as well. The Bucs defense has been the better of the two at forcing takeaways, ranking seventh in the league in interceptions (15) and seventh in fumble recoveries (10) during the regular season. We saw that again last week when they forced Drew Brees into three interceptions, one of which was run back for a touchdown. That propensity for forcing turnovers could certainly swing things the Bucs way if they’re able to pick up a few Sunday.
One other question that looms over both games this weekend is the kicking game. Feely, who spent 14 seasons in the league as a kicker, notes that the biggest key in the kicking game this time of year is belief in your abilities.
“At this time of year, you understand that you’re going to have to battle the elements but I think the biggest key for kickers is trying to stay confident,” said Feely. “Not swinging too hard, being in rhythm, hitting the ball well, getting good contact, making sure you get good footing and being confident through those kicks.”
This game features a pair of veterans in Mason Crosby and Ryan Succop who should have that confidence. Crosby is a perfect 16-for-16 on field goal attempts this season while Succop is 28-for-31 with his three misses coming from 40+ yards out. Still, we saw Justin Tucker and Harrison Butker, two of the league’s best, miss a pair of kicks each in last week’s divisional round by misjudging the wind.
In a game in which the line is Green Bay favored by three points, a missed extra point or field goal can be the difference. Who better handles the elements will determine things on Sunday.
Kickoff in Green Bay is set for 3:05 p.m. EST.