The NFC Championship Game Will Come Down to Defense, not Offense

The NFC championship game is going to be such an exciting matchup. Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will duel to see which one can get to another Super Bowl. As usual, the matchup at quarterback will snatch headlines and be talked about more than other aspects of the game. Even though the quarterback position will be a great battle, that isn’t what should be discussed going into this game.

Both team’s defensive squads should be the talk of this NFC Championship game. Both units have stepped up their play, especially in their playoff matchups. Going against two of the hottest QBs in football, Tampa Bay and Green Bay’s defense must have their best performances of the season if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.’

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are on fire

Both defenses should be worried about the quarterbacks they are facing. Both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been playing lights out the past couple of weeks. Their play has been why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers made it this far. Aaron Rodgers has been sensational all year, virtually locking up the MVP award.

Rodgers has picked up his play down the stretch. He has thrown for two or more touchdown passes in six of his last seven games, including the postseason. His accuracy has been precise, completing 70% or more of his passes in five of his last seven, per ESPN. The most impressive stat in Rodgers’ last seven contests: he’s only thrown one interception. He shredded the Rams’ top-ranked defense for 296 and two touchdowns in the divisional round. Tampa Bay is getting a confident Aaron Rodgers, which is a scary thing,

Brady has also played exceptionally well toward the end of the season. In his last seven, Brady has thrown for 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His outstanding play is reflected in his QBR, posting a QBR of 75 or higher in five of the last seven games. Brady hasn’t turned the ball over in the two playoff games he’s had and has 580 yards passing. Brady is coming into the NFC title game feeling confident, just like Rodgers.

Rodgers and Brady are two of the best to ever do it and have proved that in their recent seven-game stretch. They will be the top priority for both defenses, who are finding their rhythms at the right time. The Bucs and Packers’ defenses are coming off strong performances where they helped their team win. 

Tampa Bay’s and Green Bay’s defense are peaking at the right time

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In order to limit Brady and Rodgers’ effectiveness, the defense needs to play well and get those two off of their spots. The Bucs’ defense will have their hands full with Rodgers, but they’ve been playing great football down the stretch. Tampa’s defense has been solid for most of the season, but they’ve recently taken it to a new level. Just look at their two playoff games, where they stifled the Washington Football Team and shut down Drew Brees.

Against Washington, Tampa Bay’s defense allowed 5.4 yards per play. They forced Taylor Heinicke into an interception, a costly one that decided the game. Their defense is playing with physicality, and that was evident against New Orleans. They forced Drew Brees to throw a career-high three interceptions in that game. The Saints has under 300 total and averaged under five yards a play. 

The Packers defense has also stepped things up as of late. Their run defense has improved, holding Derrick Henry under 100 yards in their matchup. They also made big plays against the Rams, even though Jared Goff played with a bad thumb. The Packers’ defense wasn’t always this solid but have gradually improved during the season.

The play of both defenses recently makes this NFC championship game even more exciting. Brady and Rodgers get most of the shine, but it will be defenses they face that can make a huge impact on the game.

Defense will win the NFC Championship game

The offensive fireworks will be present in the NFC title game. Brady and Rodgers are playing to well for them to flop, especially with a Super Bowl on the line. Given the star power both offenses have, points will be scored. But there is an old saying in the NFL; defense wins championships. That statement is very true for this matchup.

Either the Bucs or Packers defense is going to have to make a big play to win the game for their team. Whether it be a turnover, goal line stand, or fourth down stop is up to them. There is going to be a moment in the game where the defense is going to need a big stop and they must come through. One momentum changing play on defense could decide the out come of this game. 

As much as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will be analyzed and talked about going into the NFC championship game, it’s the defenses that will be the x-factors. They will need to contain some of the game’s greatest quarterbacks when they are on a roll. There isn’t a bigger challenge in football, and the Buccaneers and Packers’ defense must rise to the challenge to send their team to the Super Bowl.

All stats courtesy of ESPN