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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Championship

Aaron Rodgers comes up short of Super Bowl appearance again

Sun Jan 19 9:55pm ET
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer

Players: Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Jace Sternberger

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, Left, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt York)


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams, right, knocks the ball away from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Packers recovered. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) watches from the sideline during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) rolls out during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) A sack and fumble one series, a muffed snap he couldn’t handle the next, then an interception that grounded Green Bay for good.

By halftime.

Aaron Rodgers’ latest failure in the NFC championship game kept him out of the Super Bowl once again, the Packers’ season ending just short with an another forgettable playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, 37-20 on Sunday.

Rodgers hasn’t advanced past the conference title game since his lone Super Bowl trip - and triumph - after the 2010 season. His disappointment showed on the sideline, where Rodgers stood stone-faced, hands on his hips.

Sure, Rodgers completed his first eight passes but the Packers (14-4) never found an offensive rhythm and had no answers for Jimmy Garoppolo or dynamic running back Raheem Mostert on the other side of the ball.

Rodgers made another futile return to the Bay Area where he starred for the University of California at Berkeley, with far less chatter these days about the 49ers passing on him in favor of Alex Smith as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. The 36-year-old Rodgers, born in the Northern California town of Chico, finally led a scoring drive to begin the second half when he connected with Aaron Jones on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Jones ran for a 1-yard score early in the fourth.

Rodgers wound up 31 of 39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions with a 97.2 passer rating while dropping his third straight conference title game over a six-year stretch. He also lost in the NFC championship after the 2014 and ’16 seasons. His highlight Sunday came with a 65-yard completion to Davante Adams with his team trailing 34-13 that set up Jace Sternberger's 8-yard TD reception.

That gave Rodgers 40 career playoff touchdown passes, breaking Brett Favre's franchise record of 39. Rodgers' night ended with an interception by Richard Sherman at the 5.

The rambunctious and raucous Cheeseheads couldn’t even help his cause in a surprisingly red-clad sellout crowd given Green Bay fans typically travel well. Last week in Wisconsin, they watched him play one of his best games of the season to beat the Seahawks.

Rodgers went 8 of 8 to start for 66 yards, but the Packers were forced to punt their first two possessions. Rodgers fumbled when sacked by K’Waun Williams for a 15-yard loss their next time and Green Bay punted again - totaling just 18 yards of offense in its first three offensive series. The Packers trailed 27-0 by halftime gaining only 93 yards.

Rodgers was sacked on his second third-down conversion attempt of the game for a loss of 13 yards. Nick Bosa came at the quarterback again from the right edge.

In the postseason, Rodgers has a rough history on San Francisco’s home field.

Most notably: He was the reigning NFL MVP when Colin Kaepernick thoroughly outshined him in the NFC divisional round in January 2013. Postseason first-timer Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff record 181 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Niners back to the conference championship with a 45-31 victory over Green Bay.

Rodgers never got in sync that night at Candlestick Park and finished 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns. He also lost 23-20 to San Francisco in the wild-card round the next season at Lambeau Field.

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Player Notes
Kansas City Chiefs Jan 23 12:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and has no game status for Sunday. He will play in the AFC Championship against the Buffalo Bills. It's good news for a Chiefs secondary that will be trying to slow down All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs and breakout quarterback Josh Allen as they try to secure back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl. The 29-year-old Breeland was hit with a four-game suspension during the regular season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, but he still managed to record 38 combined tackles, two interceptions, nine passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 11 games in 2020. KC's defense allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this year, so they'll need Breeland in order to contain Buffalo's passing game.

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Gabriel Davis Jan 23 12:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis (ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday's playoff matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was able to get in some limited work late this week, but it sounds like the team is still unsure if he'll suit up. His absence could mean more targets for Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley (knee), and possibly Isaiah McKenzie gets more involved. DFS players might want to stay away from Davis even if he does suit up for this game. It doesn't sound like he'll be 100 percent healthy, so it's unlikely he puts up productive numbers.

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Dawson Knox Jan 23 12:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has shown some signs of life in the second half of the season. However, the Bills still don't have a significant role for him in the offense. Last week, Knox hauled in two receptions for 18 yards in the win over the Baltimore Ravens. He has been playing better lately, but is still the fourth or fifth option in this offense. It's unlikely that he gets enough targets to make a significant impact versus the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.

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John Brown Jan 23 11:50am ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown surprisingly had a solid game against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He hauled in eight receptions for 62 yards in the win. Brown has battled injuries all season long, but plays well when he's actually on the field. The Kansas City Chiefs are likely going to do everything in their power to slow down Stefon Diggs. That means, Brown could be against some below average defenders, which could mean he has a solid game. DFS players should highly consider using Brown for this matchup since he has plenty of upside.

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Cole Beasley Jan 23 11:50am ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (knee) was removed from the injury report ahead of Sunday's matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is great news considering Beasley has been dealing with lingering knee issues for a few weeks. It's unclear if Beasley will be limited at all for this matchup. He finished with a goose egg last week versus the Baltimore Ravens. Beasley does have plenty of upside, but might be too risky for DFS players this weekend.

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Devin Singletary Jan 23 11:40am ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary remains the workhorse lead back for this offense while Zack Moss (shoulder) is sidelined. However, Singletary didn't see many carries during the victory over the Baltimore Ravens last week. He rushed seven times for 25 yards and hauled in three receptions for 12 yards through the air. It's unlikely that his production increases by much against the Kansas City Chiefs. Maybe there's some low-end appeal here, but it's tough to imagine Singletary finding much room to run on Sunday.

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Stefon Diggs Jan 23 11:40am ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs continues to put up video game numbers and it seems like no defense has an answer for him. Last week, Diggs hauled in eight receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Baltimore Ravens. Honestly, it seems like Diggs goes over 100 receiving yards in just about every game. He'll continue to see plenty of targets versus the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. He should be considered a must-have DFS option.

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Josh Allen Jan 23 11:30am ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is one win away from a ticket to the Super Bowl. Last week, he threw for 206 yards with one passing touchdown in the win over the Baltimore Ravens. Allen is a dual threat quarterback that has been lighting up opposing defenses all season long. The Kansas City Chiefs are not exactly a bad defense, but Allen hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He'll remain a top tier DFS option for the playoff games this weekend.

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Green Bay Packers Jan 22 10:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (back) is listed as questionable for the NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) was ruled out. King popped up on the injury report on Friday and did not practice. Mid-week additions to the injury report are usually never a good sign, especially this late in the week. Jaire Alexander will likely be matched up against Mike Evans on one side of the field this weekend, but a King absence could benefit Scotty Miller or rookie Tyler Johnson the most in Tampa's passing attack with veteran Antonio Brown (knee) already ruled out. Chris Godwin could also have a big game for the Bucs out of the slot.

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Leonard Floyd Jan 22 9:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams impending free-agent LB Leonard Floyd is a player head coach Sean McVay hopes to re-sign this offseason.

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Nelson Agholor Jan 22 8:43pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders impending free-agent WR Nelson Agholor may be too expensive for the Raiders to re-sign this offseason, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez.

Fantasy Spin: Agholor is coming off a career season and probably will receive interest from multiple teams. He should have fantasy value no matter where he signs but probably will not be a weekly starting option in fantasy leagues.

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Matt Judon Jan 22 8:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens impending free-agent LB Matt Judon has been looking for $20 million per season in a new contract, according to a source.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jan 22 7:10pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense prepares to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Tampa Bay had a strong showing against the Saints last week, creating four takeaways, though they didn't register a sack. They will need to put more pressure on Rodgers than they did Brees, or they'll have a long day. If the Buccaneers follow their Week 6 formula- they sacked Rodgers four times and intercepted him twice- they'll be in a great position to win, as well as delivering for fantasy managers who turn to them.

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Cameron Brate Jan 22 7:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate is playing well heading into a playoff matchup with Green Bay. Brate has at least 50 receiving yards in each of his last two games and has seen 11 targets in that span. However, he's been out-snapped by Rob Gronkowski in both playoff wins, which makes it hard to trust him fully. Both tight ends could have good games, with Gronkowski being more of a touchdown favorite- and Brate more of a between-the-20s guy.

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Rob Gronkowski Jan 22 6:50pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski takes on the Packers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday. Gronkowski has been out-produced by his teammate Cameron Brate lately, but the former has been on the field far more than the latter. The former Patriot also saw the same amount of targets as Brate last week and even had a touchdown catch fall just out of his reach. Both players could have good games, but Gronkowski is due for a strong performance- and he's no stranger to big games. Bet on Gronkowski seeing more looks with Antonio Brown (knee) sidelined against Green Bay, a team who allowed a 5-78-1 line to the big tight end in Week 6.

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Jamaal Williams Jan 22 6:23pm ET

Green Bay Packers RB Jamaal Williams (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 22, but is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.

Fantasy Spin: Williams should see a decent amount of carries in the championship game but will be facing one of the better run defenses in the NFL. He can be a possible flex option in some leagues but can be benched if better options are available.

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Chris Godwin Jan 22 6:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (quad) was limited in practice all week but was removed from the injury report for the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

Fantasy Spin: Godwin's availability takes on a little bit more importance with Antonio Brown getting ruled out Friday. While Tampa Bay has plenty of depth at receiver, Godwin will likely be asked to do a bit more now. Although his expected matchup in the slot with Chandon Sullivan is not an easy one, Godwin could end up being a great contrarian play in DFS if the market is off of him after a bit of a disappointing effort last week when his 4-34-0 dud - which included a drop in the end zone - ended a four-game scoring streak.

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Ronald Jones II Jan 22 5:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quad, finger) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, Jan. 22, and was removed from the injury report for the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

Fantasy Spin: Leonard Fournette has been a fantasy beast through Tampa Bay's first two playoff games, but that production has largely been a product of two touchdowns and a fair amount of work in the passing game. His rushing efficiency has remained right around his regular-season levels. All of that is to say Jones should probably be considered the favorite to handle most of the rushing workload this weekend, which should be enough to make a strong contrarian option in DFS.

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Mike Evans Jan 22 5:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee) was limited in practice all week but no longer appears on the injury report for the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

Fantasy Spin: Evans is a bit of a wild-card this week. He was shadowed and mostly silenced by Jaire Alexander on most of his routes in the first meeting back in Week 6, but the Packers' stud cornerback has rarely moved off his left cornerback spot since that game. Assuming Green Bay sticks to that and Evans doesn't get followed by Alexander this week, Evans could have a huge game this time around. The decision to have Alexander shadow (or not) figures to determine whether Evans or Chris Godwin will be the best Bucs' receiver to play this week.

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Sammy Watkins Jan 22 5:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Watkins is expected to play and resume his No. 2 receiver duties opposite Tyreek Hill. It helps his cause for playing time that he is probably the team's best blocker at receiver in what could be another run-heavy game plan against Buffalo, but he's a tough sell in all fantasy formats given his risk for an in-game setback and the fact he hasn't exceeded 62 yards receiving in a game since the opener. Nonetheless, Watkins has come up big in the playoffs as of late and the Bills' likely defensive game plan of preventing the deep ball should work in his favor.

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