Baltimore Ravens star and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson "deserves" a new deal, insisted general manager Eric DeCosta.

Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract after his third NFL campaign came to an end at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round.

The 24-year-old quarterback is set to command a lucrative contract after Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes and Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson each signed big-money deals.

"There is certainly a chance of that [discussing contract]. I will be talking to Lamar probably in the next 10 days or so," DeCosta told reporters on Monday.

"He's down in Florida. We've got a great relationship. He's got a great relationship with this organisation. He's a very easy person to talk to and certainly deserves a contract.

"He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. Our intention, and my intention, is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years."

But the coronavirus pandemic means long-term contracts will be more challenging, with DeCosta adding: "With the salary cap there are some unique challenges this year. The cap could be $175million, it could be $185m, we don't really know yet."

Jackson has won more games (30) than any other quarterback since taking over as Baltimore's starter midway through the 2018 season and became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 30 regular-season victories (37 games).

He is also the first in league history to produce 5,000 passing yard and 2,500 rushing yards in his first three NFL seasons.

Jackson had 242 completions for 2,757 yards – at 64.4 per cent – 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 appearances for the Ravens this season.

In total, Jackson has tallied 606 completions, 7,085 yards, 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions since entering the league.

"A couple of years ago, when I was doing my first press conference, we said we would try to do more deals, we would try to sign our players," DeCosta said.

"We've done that, and I'm proud of that. A lot of the credit for that really does go to [senior vice-president of football operations] Pat Moriarty and [director of football administration] Nick Matteo. It's something that evolves over time. These types of things just don't happen arbitrarily.

"We want to keep our good young players. We want our fans to be able to reap the enjoyment of these players over time, if we can. We will continue to engage in talks with all of our good young players."

Fortune favours the bold. It is a phrase has been used so often that it has become a worn-out cliche. But cliches are cliches because they consistently ring true, and that famous Latin proverb applied at Lambeau Field on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers suffered more playoff heartache.

Their forlorn efforts in last year's NFC Championship game rout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers still fresh in their minds - defensive coordinator Mike Pettine showed the game to his group last week in an attempt at motivation - the Packers reached the same stage this season seemingly well placed to put those memories behind them and reach Super Bowl LV.

The top seed in the NFC, the Packers matched up significantly better with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than they did the Niners last year and had the potentially crucial advantage of playing in freezing conditions at Lambeau Field in front of 8,500 fans.

And yet, with the chance to force a compelling back-and-forth encounter into overtime, the Packers - specifically their head coach Matt LaFleur - shied away from the opportunity, taking a conservative approach that ultimately proved their undoing.

LaFleur's costly caution

Green Bay faced a fourth and goal from the Tampa Bay eight-yard line trailing 31-23 with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

If LaFleur had needed evidence of how to approach this situation, it came at the end of the first half when, rather than punting and settling for a 14-10 half-time lead, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians went for it on fourth down and, a play after converting to keep the drive alive, gave Tom Brady the green light to launch a 39-yard bomb to Scotty Miller that put Tampa Bay 21-10 to the good.

Rodgers and the Green Bay defense helped the Packers recover from a 28-10 third-quarter deficit and move into striking distance. However, when it came time to make a crucial decision, LaFleur ignored the old axiom and instead opted for caution, taking the ball out of the hands of his best player as he elected to kick a field goal and trust his defense to get the ball back.

It was a task that proved beyond them as a contentious pass interference penalty gave Tampa a game-sealing first down, leaving Rodgers to reflect on another year in which the Packers came up short.

Wondrous Rodgers

LaFleur's rejection of the aggressive approach that served Arians well at the end of the second quarter ensured that one of the best seasons of Rodgers' Hall of Fame career was wasted.

Rodgers is a near-lock to win the third MVP of his career after a season in which he took an offense of the Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay ilk to new heights.

He led the league in completion percentage 70.7, threw for 4,299 yards, a league-leading 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

His TD-INT ratio of 9.60 was the sixth-best in NFL history and second among quarterbacks to have played 16 games in a season, behind his 2018 mark of 12.50.

Tied for third in the NFL with 37 passing plays of 25 yards or more, few offenses were more explosive than that of the Packers in 2020, with Rodgers' adjusted net yards per attempt figure of 8.89 tied for sixth of all-time.

That is the same number Patrick Mahomes posted in his 2018 MVP season and, just like the Kansas City Chiefs that year, the end result for the Packers was a devastating loss.

Unlike the Chiefs, the Packers now face the prospect of significant changes in the offseason that could impact their ability to continue to contend in the NFC.

A challenging offseason

In an offseason where the salary cap could shrink to $175million, the Packers may lose center Corey Linsley and running back Aaron Jones to free agency, while Davante Adams, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and yards per game (98.1) in the regular season, is a candidate for a lucrative contract extension.

The Packers, therefore, face some tough decisions in the offseason and it is the lack of clarity over how the team will look in the immediate future that seemingly led Rodgers to describe his own future as "uncertain" in his post-game media conference. 

Rodgers may have been over-dramatic in the heat of the moment and another season with the Packers appears more likely than a move elsewhere or his retirement.

But the downcast attitude Rodgers presented after the game was indicative of a quarterback who knows that Super Bowl windows are, for most teams, ephemeral by their nature.

With his fourth-down call, LaFleur ensured another year of the Packers' window slipped through their fingers. If they now struggle to keep a formidable team together and Rodgers' career ends without a second Super Bowl ring, LaFleur's rejection of the bold will be remembered as a key reason why.

Josh Allen "didn't perform well enough" for the Buffalo Bills as they missed out on a place in the Super Bowl with a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Bills quarterback Allen completed 28 of 48 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game, while he rushed for 88 yards on seven carries.

However, an interception at the start of the fourth quarter preceded a Kansas City touchdown on the next drive to put the Chiefs out of sight.

Allen felt he forced things at times and was frustrated the Bills twice settled for field goals despite being within the Chiefs' 10-yard line.

"We didn't execute how we should've. I didn't perform well enough for this team. You're going against the reigning Super Bowl champs, who were 15-1, the number one seed at Arrowhead, if you're not going to have your A game, you're not going to win the game. That's what it was," he said.

"A couple of decisions early on, trying to press in the second half, I got things going a little bit better, but our red zone efficiency settled for field goals and you've got to score touchdowns against these guys. That's basically it.

"In the first half, I thought we moved the ball well, or well enough. We got down into the red zone and couldn't get the ball into the endzone.

"We got down there, threw an interception, a couple of bad decisions on my part. Just the communication aspect of it too. They did a good job of being able to check out their blitzes, not really allow us any time to get back to what we were originally going to run.

"Again, it comes down to decision making and putting the ball where it needed to be and I didn't do that well enough tonight."

Asked if he was pushing to go for touchdowns on the fourth downs inside the Chief's 10-yard line, he added: "I mean, that's the coach's decision. We had three downs to get in there prior and we didn't do our job.

"Like I said, lack of communication, lack of execution down there and it falls on our shoulders."

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott admitted with the benefit of hindsight that he might have tried his luck in one of those instances.

"I thought about it in both occasions really. Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would have maybe went for one of them," he said.

"The one before the half for sure. I wanted to get points. We were having trouble coming up with points and I wanted to have something to show for it going into the half, especially knowing they were getting the ball after half.

"I will look back at that and I will re-evaluate, especially the one after the half there. As a team, we will learn from this experience."

There were several confrontations towards the end of the game, with Allen sparking one by throwing the ball at the head of Alex Okafor.

Allen regretted letting his emotions get to him but feels confident Buffalo will not have to experience another 27-year wait to reach this stage again.

"It's going to fuel us, I have no doubt in my mind that we will be back. This is a team that fought hard to the end, a team that loves each other," he said.

"We're still young and we're only going to get better. That's one thing I got from this. We're close."

Patrick Mahomes going up against Tom Brady is a prospect that should lead to a "heck of a football game" at Super Bowl LV, says Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

The legendary Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the showpiece in his first season with the team as they overcame the Green Bay Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship Game.

Later on Sunday, superstar quarterback Mahomes guided the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl in a 38-24 triumph over the Buffalo Bills.

The thought of Brady, considered by many as the greatest QB of all time after winning six rings with New England Patriots, going up against Mahomes is an exciting one, not least for Chiefs coach Reid.

"Yeah, it seems like we've had a couple of those [Mahomes v Brady games] and every one of them is tremendous," Reid told reporters.

"I wouldn't expect this to be different, they got a tremendous team there. Those two have a lot of respect for each other, I remember when Tom came into the locker room after the championship game and spoke to Patrick, and Patrick responded like any young man would respond to the GOAT.

"We look forward to the opportunity to play, I know Pat does with Tom and I'm sure likewise Tom does with Pat. It should be a heck of a football game."

Mahomes completed 29 of 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns against the Bills and joined Kurt Warner, Brady and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to reach the Super Bowl twice in their first four NFL seasons.

If the Chiefs are victorious, Mahomes will join Brady as the only QBs to win it twice in that span.

Asked what such achievements say about Mahomes, Reid replied: "You guys have seen him grow right in front of you.

"You're seeing the steps he's taking. I sit there, and I'm an old guy who's seen a lot of pretty good quarterbacks, and I sit there and think this guy seems to amaze me a little bit more every game.

"I'm proud of the way he handles it most of all. You guys aren't writing stories about this guy has a big head or this and that.

"He's not showing people up. No, he's about the team, he's all in, he works his tail off, he does it the right way, which is important for the longevity of his career and for the success of the Kansas City Chiefs and now for the Super Bowl."

Mahomes entered the game on the back of suffering a concussion in the Divisional Round win over the Cleveland Browns, and with question marks over a nasty-looking toe injury.

Reid added: "Listen, he came out and he practiced and did a great job all week.

"It was a limited basis early with the protocol he had to deal with, he kept positive with it, stayed positive with every part whether that was with the toe or head.

"I thought he and the trainers had a great plan for his toe. It was an amazing looking thing after the last game and how black and blue it was."

Reid said the magnitude of reaching back-to-back Super Bowls had not quite sunk in yet.

"I will [reflect] when I get about two seconds to sit down, I'm gonna sit there and I'm gonna go 'Dog darn, how about that?'" Reid added.

"But we got some work we gotta get done. We understand that, the guys understand that."

Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes is excited about the opportunity to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

The Chiefs and Buccaneers secured their places in the NFL showpiece with wins over the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers respectively on Sunday.

The battle between quarterbacks Mahomes and Brady is set to be must-watch at Raymond James Stadium on February 7.

And Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to the title last year in an MVP performance, is excited to face Brady with the 43-year-old playing his 10th Super Bowl.

"The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl," Mahomes told a news conference.

"Being able to go up against one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterback of all-time in his 150th Super Bowl, I mean, it's going to be a great experience for me.

"To go out there and have a chance to repeat and get to do it against the best, I mean it's something special and I'm excited for the opportunity."

Mahomes went into the AFC Championship Game on the back of a concussion suffered last week and with question marks over a suspected toe injury.

But he completed 29 of 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-24 win over the Bills.

Mahomes joined Kurt Warner, Brady and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to reach the Super Bowl twice in their first four NFL seasons.

If the Chiefs are victorious, Mahomes will join Brady as the only QBs to win it twice in that span.

Despite the concerns over his health, Mahomes insisted he felt fit and ready to go ahead of facing the Bills.

"I felt good from the warmups on. We did a good job as far as rehabbing and getting myself ready to go," he said.

"I felt like I was myself out there and we were able to go out there and score points and find a way to win against a really good football team."

Tom Brady is embracing the journey as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star prepares to make a remarkable 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Brady – a six-time Super Bowl champion – guided the Buccaneers past the top-seeded Green Bay Packers 31-26 in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

The 43-year-old quarterback, who is in his first season with the Buccaneers after 20 trophy-laden campaigns at the New England Patriots, led Tampa Bay to the NFL showpiece for the first time since 2003.

Tampa Bay will become the first team in NFL history to play a home Super Bowl – at Raymond James Stadium, where defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs await on February 7 – and four-time Super Bowl MVP Brady revelled in the achievement.

"It's been a great journey thus far. We put the work in and a lot of guys just embraced everything," Brady told reporters after completing 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards, three touchdowns and three second-half interceptions.

"When Bruce Arians got here last year, there was a lot of great things that were happening, a lot of great young players and I just made the decision and love coming to work every day with this group of guys and we've worked really hard to get to this point.

"It's a tough game, we've had a few tough games in a row and the next one will be really tough too, but we know what we're playing for.

"We've got two weeks to prepare, it's going to be a great opponent and it'll be a really exciting couple of weeks for us."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV – now has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship).

It was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

This was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

Patrick Mahomes and reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs will face Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV after beating the Buffalo Bills 38-24.

The Chiefs reached the showpiece for the second straight season after an impressive performance at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Mahomes – who entered concussion protocol last week before proving his fitness – completed 29 of 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns as Tyreek Hill (172 receiving yards) and Travis Kelce (118 and two TDs) both had big games.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen was 28 of 48 for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while he rushed for 88 yards, but he was intercepted once and sacked four times.

Allen was also unable to get much going with Stefon Diggs, who finished with just 77 yards on six receptions.

The Bills made the perfect start, Allen combining with Dawson Knox on a short pass after Mecole Hardman fumbled a punt as Buffalo took a 9-0 lead.

Hardman quickly redeemed himself after a three-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes before his 50-yard run put the Chiefs in position, Darrel Williams rushing over to give them the lead.

Kansas City capitalised on their period of dominance as Clyde Edwards-Helaire strolled in to complete a nine-play, 77-yard drive as the Chiefs took a 21-12 advantage into half-time.

After the teams traded field goals, the Chiefs extended their lead, Mahomes delivering an underhand TD pass to Kelce after a mesmerising run from Hill set the hosts up.

Allen was intercepted by Rashad Fenton early in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs stretched their lead when Mahomes connected with a wide open Kelce for another TD.

Allen found Isaiah McKenzie for a score for Buffalo as the Bills continued to push, but it was far too late.


Turning point – Chiefs turn Hardman's game around

Hardman's fumble cost the Chiefs early, but Kansas City helped turn the wide receiver's game around.

Mahomes connected with him for a touchdown and Hardman also reeled off a 50-yard run, quickly redeeming himself for the early error as the Chiefs took the lead and restored the 22-year-old's confidence.

Kelce and Hill dominate

Kelce and Hill combined for 290 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a dominant performance as reigning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes also starred.

With 13, Kelce set the record for most receptions in a conference championship game in the Super Bowl era, surpassing Michael Irvin (1994), as per NFL Research.

Kelce also surpassed Rob Gronkowski (1,585 in 2011) for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

What's next?

The Chiefs will head to the Super Bowl again. Led by Mahomes, they face a Buccaneers side who are the first in NFL history to play a Super Bowl at home.

For Buffalo, meanwhile, a promising season came to an end, but they are sure to be in contention again moving forward.

Matt LaFleur "sure as hell" hopes Aaron Rodgers returns to play for the Green Bay Packers next season amid doubts over his future after falling short of the Super Bowl, describing the star quarterback as the "heart and soul of our football team".

Rodgers indicated his future is uncertain following Green Bay's 31-26 loss to Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Favourite to be crowned the NFL's MVP, Rodgers was appearing in his first NFC title decider at Lambeau Field as he and the top-seeded Packers looked to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since reigning supreme in the 2010 season.

But the Packers fell short – 37-year-old quarterback Rodgers completing 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception at home to the Buccaneers.

Asked if Rodgers will be back next season, Packers head coach LaFleur told reporters: "I sure as hell hope so. I mean, the guy is the MVP of this league.

"He's the heart and soul of our football team. So, hell yeah. He better be back here. He's our leader."

LaFleur was heavily criticised after his approach during the closing stages of the blockbuster contest against the Buccaneers.

Trailing by eight points with just over two minutes remaining, the Packers were unable to get into the endzone on three attempts from the eight-yard line.

Instead of taking the aggressive approach in backing Rodgers to pull Green Bay within a two-point conversion of tying the game at 31-31, the Packers elected to kick a field goal and while they reduced the deficit, they never got the ball back following a pass interference call on Kevin King.

"Yeah anytime it doesn't work out, you always regret it, right?" LaFleur said. "It was just the circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing that you not only need the touchdown but you need the two-point [conversion]. The way I was looking at it was, we essentially had four timeouts with the two-minute warning.

"We knew we needed to get a stop, and I thought we were going to have a stop there at the end but we got called for [defensive pass interference] and it didn't work out.

"I think anytime something doesn't work out, do you regret it? Sure, but we're always going to be process-driven here and the way our defense was battling, the way our defense was playing, it felt like it was the right decision to do. It just didn't work out."

Aaron Rodgers had no part in the decision to kick a field goal on fourth down of the Green Bay Packers' final drive in their 31-26 NFC Championship Game defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and indicated afterwards that his future is uncertain.

Down eight points with a little over two minutes remaining, the Packers were unable to get into the endzone on three attempts from the eight-yard line in Sunday's title decider.

Instead of taking the aggressive approach in backing star quarterback Rodgers to pull Green Bay within a two-point conversion of tying the game at 31-31, the top-seeded Packers elected to kick a field goal.

That cut the gap to 31-26 but the Packers never got the ball back, a pass interference penalty on Kevin King giving the Buccaneers a first down on the subsequent drive to effectively seal the game.

Asked about the fourth-down call, Rodgers – making his first conference championship game appearance at Lambeau Field – said he had no influence on head coach Matt LaFleur's thinking.

"It wasn't my decision, I understand the thinking, above two minutes with all of our timeouts, but it wasn't my decision," Rodgers, 37, told reporters post-game as Tom Brady's Buccaneers reached the Super Bowl.

Rodgers added of the penalty on King: "I think it was a bad call, I think there were a few opportunities for some plays down the field for us that weren't called.

"I was surprised that call in that situation was made. We get the ball back there with 1:35 [remaining] and a timeout and a chance to win the game, go to the Super Bowl, didn't look like it [Brady's pass] was even catchable. It was a bad call."

Though he will likely receive the MVP award next week, Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion with the Packers in the 2010 season – hinted his time in Green Bay could soon be coming to a close following a second successive defeat at the NFC Championship stage.

Last year's first-round pick Jordan Love is waiting in the wings as the two-time MVP's successor under center.

"I'm just pretty gutted, it's a long season, you put so much into it," said Rodgers. "We had our chances, it's a different position to the last couple of these where we got blown out and didn't really have a chance. We had a lot of chances.

"The uncertainty of it all, the abruptness, so many futures a little grey right now, so it's definitely sudden.

"A lot of guys' futures are uncertain, myself included. That's what's sad about it, getting this far, obviously there's going to be an end to it at some point.

"Just the uncertainty is tough, the finality of it all. There's a lot of unknowns going into this offseason and I'm going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what's going on with everything.

"It's pretty tough right now. It's really, really tough to get to this point, it's a grind just to get to this point and that makes the finality of it all kind of hit you like a tonne of bricks. I'll always be thankful for this season."

Bruce Arians hailed Tom Brady and said it "only took one man" to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the belief they needed to reach the Super Bowl.

The Buccaneers will become the first team in NFL history to play a home Super Bowl after beating the Green Bay Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Tampa Bay reached the showpiece for the first time since 2003 and in Brady's first season with the team, the quarterback moving into his 10th Super Bowl.

Buccaneers head coach Arians lauded Brady's impact on the organisation.

Asked what six-time Super Bowl champion Brady had meant, Arians said: "This trophy. This trophy.

"The belief he gave everybody in this organisation that this could be done. It only took one man."

The Buccaneers were the 49th team to play a conference or league championship game on the road and have more turnovers (3-2) and fewer total yards (381-351) than their opponents. They are the first such team to win, as per Stats Perform.

Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards, three touchdowns and three second-half interceptions, while Packers star Aaron Rodgers was 33 of 48 for 346 yards, three TDs and an interception.

"It's been a long process for the whole team and today was just a great team effort," Brady said.

"We played sporadically a little bit, but the defense came up huge and we're going to need it again in a couple of weeks.

"I know it's a big game coming up, but we get to enjoy this for a little bit and then get ready to go against whoever we play [the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills]. It's going to be a great game."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team in NFL history to contest the Super Bowl in their home stadium after defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-26 as the NFC Championship Game delivered a classic.

A matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady at Lambeau Field lived up to the expectations, with the latter surviving a three-interception second-half display to reach the Super Bowl for the 10th time in his incredible career.

He put the Buccaneers in command with a stunning first half and an 18-point third-quarter deficit proved too much for the Packers to overcome as they fell short of reaching Super Bowl LV, which will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills will stand between them and the Lombardi Trophy, with the Packers left to reflect on their missed opportunities after they and Rodgers suffered yet more playoff heartache.

Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are reportedly set to part ways.

Stafford, 32, has spent 12 seasons with the Lions after being selected with the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

But the quarterback apparently asked for a fresh start and the Lions are planning to discuss trade options for the 2014 Pro Bowler in coming weeks, according to widespread reports.

Stafford started all 16 games for the Lions this season, completing 339 of 528 passes for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Detroit were 5-11, missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 12 seasons since Stafford's arrival.

The Lions are without a playoff victory since the 1991 season, having lost in the Wild Card Round in the 2011, 2014 and 2016 campaigns.

The San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Football Team are most strongly linked with making a deal with the Lions for Stafford.

Detroit announced on Saturday they had named Aaron Glenn as their defensive coordinator, while they are reportedly set to make Anthony Lynn their offensive coordinator.

Earlier this week, the Lions agreed terms with Dan Campbell to become their new head coach.

The matchup for Super Bowl LV will be known by the end of this weekend as the two Conference Championships are decided.

Probably the strangest season in NFL history has delivered a semi-final line-up to savour.

There is a matchup between two future Hall of Famers in Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers and the Packers face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.

The AFC Championship Game features two signal-callers well on their way to securing Hall of Fame status, with Patrick Mahomes recovering from a concussion to lead the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes being available means the Chiefs remain the favourites to retain the trophy, but here Stats Perform's team of NFL writers make their picks as to who will emerge from the final four and prevail at Super Bowl LV in Tampa.


With Mahomes, the best quarterback in football, fit to play, it seems foolish to back against the Chiefs.

The fourth-year superstar has the best career passer rating in playoff history (106.6), with his only two postseason interceptions coming in last year's Super Bowl when he subsequently led Kansas City to victory in a record-equalling 21-point fourth quarter.

And yet this team is not just about Mahomes, as their QB has the luxury of targeting tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who ranked second and eighth for receiving yards this season.

Even when Mahomes was out against the Cleveland Browns, the Chiefs had a coach in Andy Reid ready to make the big calls to guide them through.


The meeting of the minds between Bruce Arians and Brady was never going to be plain sailing in their first season, as two demoralising regular-season division losses to the New Orleans Saints showed.

But the Buccaneers have gradually worked through their problems and are now riding a five-game winning streak, having seen off the Washington Football Team by eight points and the Saints by 10 in the postseason.

At 43, Brady exceeded expectations in his first year in Arians' system, with 40 passing touchdowns being the second-best tally of his storied career, only the record-breaking 50 he got in 2007 topping that.

It has historically proven wise not to bet against Brady in the playoffs, a case strengthened with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and many more weapons representing the best supporting cast he has had in years.

Rob Lancaster - WE BILL-IEVE!

The Bills believe again. A franchise that has suffered more than their fair share of Super Bowl heartache in the past, losing four straight in the early 1990s, has high hopes that this could finally be their year.

Allen holds the key for Buffalo; he finished in the top five for quarterbacks in terms of passing yards, touchdowns thrown and yards per attempt in the regular season.

With his team rather abandoning the run in the playoffs – they posted a season-low 32 yards on the ground in the Divisional Round triumph over the Baltimore Ravens – the 24-year-old has the chance to excel against elite competition and, by lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, write his name into Buffalo folklore.

Nicholas McGee - BACK THE PACK

In last year's NFC Championship game, the Green Bay Packers were crushed by a San Francisco 49ers team that ran them over on offense and used their defense to swarm Aaron Rodgers and condemn him to another chastening playoff loss. 

The Packers were seen as a regression candidate in 2020, but those who expected them to take a step back perhaps underestimated how much of an achievement it was for them to reach this stage last season in Rodgers' first year in Matt LaFleur's offense.

His second year in the scheme, built around the same principles that form the basis of Kyle Shanahan's 49ers attack, has seen Rodgers take an offense widely regarded as the most creative in the game to new heights.

A near-lock for the MVP award, Rodgers completed 70.7 per cent of his passes in the regular season for 4,299 yards, an incredible 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Behind only Deshaun Watson and Allen with a completion percentage over expectation of 4.4, according to NextGen Stats, Rodgers led the league in adjusted net yards per attempt, his average of 8.89 well clear of Mahomes (8.33) in second. 

Possessing a near-telepathic connection with Davante Adams, Rodgers is playing at a level where he can outduel Brady, Allen or Mahomes, while the Packers defense is rounding into the kind of form where Green Bay can do what San Francisco couldn't last year, and make enough plays to stop the Chiefs from lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers said he is relishing his first NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

For the first time in his stellar career, Rodgers will play a conference title game at home when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit on Sunday, with his four previous NFC deciders coming on the road.

Tom Brady's Buccaneers stand in the way of MVP favourite Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers reaching their first NFL showpiece since winning Super Bowl XLV in the 2010 season.

It is set to me a memorable matchup for Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP Rodgers, who told reporters on Friday: "It's historic, it's definitely historic, there's nothing like it.

"I've played in just about every stadium now and been a lover for the NFL for most of my life, definitely most of my life that I remember and dreamt about it, playing in this stadium, since I watched those VHS tapes of the Green Bay Packers and the Ice Bowl, Bart Starr, Max McGee, Paul Hornung, Fuzzy, Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke, that's what I dreamt about, being a part of an organisation with that kind of excellence.

"Vince Lombardi, all the quotes that he has that still resonate to this day. The trophy is named after him for a reason. Our city is nicknamed 'Titletown' for a reason. It's a special place to play. I've never lost that perspective. I think my perspective is slightly adjusted on some other things this year but I've never forgotten where I play, where I live and I'm very proud of that."

Rodgers recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round.

According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (10).

The 37-year-old Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

The Packers, meanwhile, are 15-1 in home games against the Buccaneers since 1990 – including postseason encounters.

According to Stats Perform, the Packers are in the midst of their longest streak in NFL history without a takeaway (four successive playoff games), while a win would see Green Bay tie the New England Patriots for most all-time postseason wins with 37.

Green Bay is notorious for cold weather and snow, and Rodgers was asked about the difficulty of playing in such conditions as he ages.

"I can say this year, based on the games we've had and the practice outside it hasn't felt any different than years past," Rodgers said. "The cold is still cold. It's bone chilling - not maybe as miserable as Chicago. That weather, when that bone chilling like effect happens, that's tough, that's really tough. But Green Bay ... we embrace our cold weather.

"I haven't noticed any big difference now. I almost enjoy it more, you've heard me say it, authentically. Man, I want it as cold as possible. I don't feel like it's an issue the older you get. We'll see if it gets down to minus 20 at some point. - maybe I can give you a better answer!" 

Tom Brady is braced for a "big test" against Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eye a home Super Bowl.

It will be a battle of the titans when six-time NFL Super Bowl champion Brady and the Buccaneers travel to Lambeau Field, where they will face Rodgers' Packers in the NFC decider on Sunday.

Brady – who has as many playoff wins since turning 35 as any other quarterback in his career, while he has 32 in total, twice as many as any other QB – will start his 14th conference championship in the Buccaneers-Packers blockbuster.

The 43-year-old superstar and the Buccaneers, however, will come up against Rodgers – who is tipped to be crowned the NFL MVP.

Two-time MVP Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career, with his four previous NFC Championship appearances coming on the road.

Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion in the 2010 season – eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history en route to the NFC showpiece. Per Stats Perform, the 37-year-old has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history.

Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most TD passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

Sunday's winner will advance to February 7's Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium – home of the Buccaneers – and when asked about Rodgers on Friday, Brady told reporters: "He basically does everything well. He has great command and experience, leadership, players are playing hard.

"He has a great style of play. He obviously throws the ball as well as any quarterback. Gets rid of the ball quickly. Has great vision of the field. He is able to extend plays with his legs. He has a lot of explosive plays.

"A great football team. Top-scoring offense. It's a big test. We are going to have to play great football to beat them."

The Buccaneers head into the clash on the back of wins away to the Washington Football Team and New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay are also riding a seven-game winning streak on the road – the longest run in franchise history, while the Buccaneers have nine straight games with 24-plus points and five in succession with 30-plus points – both the longest in team history, per Stats Perform.

"Love working with my team-mates. We've all worked hard," Brady said. "To play in a championship game is a great experience. I love being able to do that with this group of guys who've worked hard to get to this point. We had some rough moments but we've won two road games and will have to win a third if we want to continue playing.

"It's a tough test. A great team we're playing. Not an easy task but we will have to figure out a way."

Brady, whose Buccaneers are looking to become the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason, added: "Everyone knows what's at stake. You don't get to this point, you don't get one game and get here, you gotta go through a whole process to do it and our team has done that… we have a chance to get back home for a home Super Bowl, which would be a cool thing."

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