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NFL conference championships: Utah ties and key storylines to watch in the postseason’s next round

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Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) runs back an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL divisional round game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

John Munson, Associated Press

We’re just a couple days away from knowing what the matchup will be in Super Bowl LV, as the NFC and AFC championship games this weekend will determine the two participants.

NFC championship game:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers

Time: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. MST

Venue: Lambeau Field 

TV: Fox, Fox Deportes

What to watch for: Sunday’s first conference championship will feature a first: veteran quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers meeting in the playoffs for the first time in their long careers. That, of course, is because Brady, until this year, was in the AFC with New England, and the two have never met in a Super Bowl. Still, the matchup of two of the game’s best signal-callers will create plenty of buzz.

Utah impact: BYU’s all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Williams, is the lone Utah tie expected to play in this matchup. He’s coming off his best postseason performance, when the fourth-year Packers running back had 65 rushing yards on 12 carries. He helped set up a pair of short touchdowns in the first half of the Packers’ divisional-round win. Williams has been limited at practice this week with an ankle injury, though.

Utah ties on Buccaneers roster

  • No Utah ties

Utah ties on Packers roster

  • Tipa Galeai, DE, Utah State (practice squad)
  • Jordan Love, QB, Utah State 
  • Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU

AFC championship game:
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Time: Sunday, 4:40 p.m.

Venue: Arrowhead Stadium

TV: CBS, ESPN Deportes

What to watch for: Kansas City is hoping that quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be good to go after leaving last week’s game with symptoms of a concussion. If so, this should be another exciting offensive battle. All four teams in the conference championship games averaged 29 or more points per game during the regular season. The Bills, led by quarterback Josh Allen, average 31.3, second only to Green Bay, while the Chiefs averaged 29.6, sixth-best in the NFL.  

Utah impact: Former BYU player and grad assistant Andy Reid is trying to lead his Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. While there are several Utah ties on both rosters, only two are likely to have much impact in this game — Kansas City safety Daniel Sorensen (BYU) and Buffalo cornerback Taron Johnson (Weber State). Both made momentum-swinging plays in the divisional round: Sorensen forced a fumble at the goal line just before halftime that resulted in a touchback. Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it 101 yards for a pick-six when Baltimore was driving to try and tie the score. It’s completely plausible that both defenders could come up clutch with another big play this weekend.

Utah ties on Bills roster

  • Jordan Devey, OL, Snow College and American Fork High
  • Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State
  • Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah, Snow College and Bingham High (COVID-19 reserve)
  • Zack Moss, RB, Utah (injured reserve)

Utah ties on Chiefs roster

  • Marcus Kemp, WR, Layton High (practice squad)
  • Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU
  • Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State