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The first game of the NFL’s conference championship Sunday is from the NFC as the Green Bay Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a trip to Super Bowl 55 – Tampa Bay is looking to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium. The top-seeded Packers, though, are 4-point betting favorites.
Rather amazingly, it’s the first time that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will get to host an NFC Championship Game in his Hall of Fame career. It’s the second year in a row in it for the Pack as they were blown out at the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Green Bay will be on an extra day of rest as it beat the visiting Los Angeles Rams 32-18 on Saturday in the Divisional Round. Rodgers completed 23 of 36 passes for 296 yards and two scores, and the Packers rushed for 188 yards and two scores on the NFL’s No. 1 defense. That allowed them to possess the ball for more than 36 minutes. The Green Bay defense was the better unit in that game, allowing just 244 total yards.
There will be a very limited number of fans at Lambeau Field for the conference title game as there were against the Rams. The current forecast for Green Bay on Saturday is a high of 23 and low of 18 but it’s not supposed to potentially snow until well after the game would be over. The Packers are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games at home against teams with winning records.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, brings in a seven-game road winning streak, taking those by an average margin of 16 points. Tom Brady and the Bucs sent New Orleans Saints legendary quarterback Drew Brees into likely retirement with a 30-20 upset in the Big Easy on Sunday. Brady threw for 199 yards and two scores and also rushed for the clinching touchdown with just under five minutes left. The Tampa Bay defense picked off Brees three times.
This will be Brady’s 14th career conference title game but of course first in the NFC. The only franchises with more appearances in a conference championship game since the merger are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers with 16 each and Brady’s former New England Patriots team with 15 visits.
The home team has won 15 of the past 18 in this series. The Bucs played arguably their best game this season in Week 6, a 38-10 home rout of the Packers. Rodgers had one of his worst games ever, going 16 of 35 for 160 yards and two picks. Brady threw for two scores and Ronald Jones rushed for two.