The NFL somehow made it through the 2020 regular season getting every single game played through a coronavirus pandemic. It was truly remarkable and Roger Goodell & Co. deserve all the credit in the world. Super Bowl 55 is scheduled for Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and there’s no reason to believe that game won’t go off as scheduled. Here’s a look at some of the favored matchups via NFL odds from Mybookie.
Favored Matchups | 2021 NFL Expert Analysis
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers (+340)
No surprise this is the favored matchup as Kansas City is the No. 1 seed in the AFC and Green Bay the No. 1 in the NFC. They get the only first-round byes, and no team has reached the Super Bowl without a first-round bye since the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to win his third career NFL MVP Award on Super Bowl Weekend and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 winner, to finish second. Do you realize that Rodgers and Mahomes have never played in a game of any significance?
The lone time the Chiefs have played the Packers since Mahomes was drafted was Week 8 last year in Kansas City and Mahomes was out injured. Green Bay won 31-24 as Rodgers threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to running back Aaron Jones. He had seven catches for 159 yards and added 67 on the ground. Matt Moore was the Chiefs’ QB and threw for 267 yards with two touchdowns and no picks.
Green Bay has four possible playoff opponents for the divisional round Jan. 16-17 – Washington, Tampa Bay, Chicago and the LA Rams – but Matt LaFleur suggested the coaching staff won’t be studying too extensively until this weekend.
Kansas City would also play one of four AFC teams in the divisional round. Coach Andy Reid said his club will use the time to briefly unwind, not unplug, during the bye: “Their minds won’t go far from it. It’s just not how this group’s wired.”
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints (+500)
A rematch between Mahomes and Drew Brees? They met in Week 15 this season in New Orleans and the Chiefs won 32-29. Mahomes passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
The Kansas City defense did its part to spoil Brees’ return from rib fractures and a punctured lung that had kept the record-setting passer out four games. While Brees passed for 234 yards and three TDs, he completed fewer than half of his passes and had a pick.
“I wasn’t real efficient, obviously, in the passing game,” Brees said. “I’d say that was a combination of forcing some things down the field instead of just taking a completion underneath. There were some miscues.”
Brees is expected to retire after the Saints’ next loss.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Bucs (+700)
Tom Brady and the Bucs are looking to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their own stadium. However, Tampa almost surely will have to win three road games to get there, starting Saturday night at Washington.
The Bucs will not have star linebacker Devin White for that game due to a positive COVID test. White is the team’s leading tackler and only player in the NFL with at least 100 tackles and nine sacks. Coach Bruce Arians admitted the Bucs’ pass rush was not as potent with White sidelined in Week 17 against Atlanta.
Washington completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the NFC East the season after finishing in last place. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 16 of the past 18 seasons.
Washington coach Ron Rivera is considering rotating QBs on Saturday with his team a big underdog and starter Alex Smith deal with a strained calf. Smith missed two games with a strained calf but returned to help Washington clinch the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia last Sunday night. But the calf injury limited Smith’s mobility.
If that happens Saturday, Rivera said the team will consider using two quarterbacks. That would mean alternating Smith with Taylor Heinicke, who was out of the league for nearly two years before Washington signed him to its practice squad on Dec. 8.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Seattle Seahawks (+900)
NFC West champion Seattle opens the playoffs Sunday at home vs. the Rams as 5-point favorites. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons, will make his 16th career postseason start. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013.
The story of the Seahawks’ recent playoff appearances has been one and done. As in, a victory on wild-card weekend followed by a loss in the divisional round. That’s been the case in three of their four trips to the playoffs since they came within a yard of repeating as champions in Super Bowl XLIX. Not making it back to the NFC title game in any of the past five seasons has been a disappointment.
Seattle and Kansas City didn’t play this season.
Green Bay Packers vs. Buffalo Bills (+900)
Aaron Rodgers vs. Josh Allen and two cold-weather fan bases descending on Tampa? That would be fun. The Bills, who won the AFC East, finished as the AFC’s No. 2 seed and will host the No. 7 seed Colts on Saturday in the Wild-Card Round.
Allen, who had 4,544 passing yards with 37 touchdown passes and eight rushing touchdowns in 2020, is the first player with at least 4,500 passing, yards, 35 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
- Saints vs. Ravens at +1650.
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