It’s been an unbelievably thrilling NFL postseason so far and it’s about to get even more exciting as the final four teams battle it out on the gridiron this weekend for a shot at Super Bowl XLVII in the conference championship games.
The NFC Championship Game will kick things off on Sunday at 3:00 Est. as the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons host the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons narrowly escaped an epic collapse last week against Seattle, while the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick enjoyed a record-setting win over the Packers, but both teams have proven time and time again why they are the two most deserving teams out of the NFC this season.
The Falcons soared above the competition during the regular season, going 13-3, and although they blew a 20-point lead in the 30-28 win last week, their resilience and fortitude spurred them to their first playoff win since 2004. Now, with quarterback Matt Ryan and his speedy receiving core of Roddy White and Julio Jones leading the way, the Falcons are ready to take the next big step and make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1999.
While the Falcons are making strides, the 49ers are simply reliving their successful past. The Niners are making their second straight appearance in the NFC title game, looking to make amends for their mistake-ridden and heartbreaking 20-17 overtime defeat at the hands of the New York Giants a year ago. And with an even stronger defense and, a multi-talented young quarterback and one of the best running games in football, the 49ers have a great chance to reach the Promised Land this season.
The winner of the NFC title game will then await the winner of the AFC Championship Game, which will take place shortly after the NFC champion is crowned at 6:30 Est. For the first time in 25 years the game will feature the same combatants as the year before as the visiting No. 5 seed Baltimore Ravens will look to exact revenge on host Tom Brady and the No. 2 seed New England Patriots.
Baltimore’s incredible upset of Denver and New England’s dismantling of Houston set up this rematch, which will once again go through New England. Baltimore still has the bitter taste of a 23-20 defeat in its mouth from last season, but will hope to find some extra motivation and inspiration in Ray Lewis’ last postseason. Although, Baltimore realizes the challenge ahead, the Ravens wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course, the Patriots have been in this position many times before in the last 12 seasons. Tom Brady and the Pats have already won three Super Bowls in five tries since 2001, but the team who they’ve lost two twice–the New York Giants–aren’t here to stand in their way this time.
Although the Pats enjoyed a stronger regular season than the Ravens, their only conference loss all year was to Baltimore in week 3. The Ravens beat the Patriots 31-30 on a Justin Tucker game-winning field goal and even though they cut it close, the Ravens would certainly love a repeat of that result this weekend.
The great news is, whichever two teams survive the championship round this weekend will setup a fantastic match-up for this year’s Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 3. The world’s eyes will be on the two conference champions and only one will rise up and make history.