In the NFC, the championship game is a rubber match between bitter NFC West rivals San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, the two teams split their two meetings this season with each team winning at home, this is without a doubt the biggest game for both teams this season with the 49ers trying to make it back to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens last season, and the Seahawks trying to get there for the second time in franchise history.
Here is a look at how all four teams match up against each other.
AFC Championship Game: (1) Denver Broncos vs. (2) New England Patriots 3:00 PM ET, January 19, 2014, CBS
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be on the road against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in what will be the first head to head meeting since the 2006 AFC Championship game when Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a comeback victory over the Patriots, which tied the fourth largest comeback by a team in the playoffs.
Brady helped the Patriots to a 12 win season without his favorite weapons for most of the season, the team lost Wes Welker their leading receiver last season to the Broncos through free agency, Pro bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez was released prior to the season because of his legal troubles, and their other Pro bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski played in only seven games this season because of offseason surgery and another injury he sustained during the season.
They also lost a few key players on defense like Vince Wilfork who played in only four games before he tore his Achilles tendon. The fact that they have made it this far is a testament to head coach Bill Belichick's coaching skills and his team's resilience.
Peyton Manning shattered all the major passing records this season, his second in Denver, and his team broke the mark for most points in a season with 606. They will be trying to avenge their loss to the Patriots at Foxborough, where they blew a 24 point lead. Their offense will be a handful for the Patriots to handle, but will need to play better defense than they have been playing lately to win this game because Tom Brady can pick a defense apart if given enough time. They will be missing Pro Bowl linebacker Vonn Miller who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Look for both teams to try and establish the run early to free up the play action pass, especially if the weather is bad.
This has the makings of a very physical game, both teams are familiar with each other's style because they play in the same division, they also genuinely dislike each other which makes the game more intriguing. Even the coaches have problems with each other from their days in college when they coached in the same conference.
Prior to this season, the 49ers had won the NFC West two years running and have been to two straight NFC Championship games, making it to the Super Bowl last season so they have a slight edge in experience. They have also won 8 straight games, including two straight on the road in Green Bay and Carolina which makes them the hottest team in the playoffs.
The main problem the San Francisco 49ers have is finding a way to win in Seattle where they have lost two straight games pretty handily. Second year starter Colin Kaepernick has struggled in Seattle, throwing four interceptions in two games played in Seattle. He will have to protect the ball better for his team to have a chance.
The Seahawks have the most dominant home field advantage in the NFL, and have only lost one game at home in two years. After losing to the Atlanta Falcons last season, their head coach Pete Carroll told the team they had to win home court this season if they want to go to the Super Bowl, which they ended up doing in the last week of the regular season.
Both quarterbacks are good passers and they are also capable of beating you with their legs if a play breaks down, which was what Kaepernick did to the Green Bay Packers for the second straight year. Both defenses have to find a way to contain the quarterbacks so they don't make any game changing plays with their legs.
Another big factor in this game is the 12th man, Seattle's loud fan base. They have already broken the Guinness world record for crowd noise in a stadium twice this year, and even caused a small earthquake twice this season. Expect them to be at their loudest on Sunday, which will cause a few false starts for the San Francisco offense, and also cause them to use up a few timeouts.
The good news for both teams is that they will have an extra week to heal after this heavyweight match up thanks to the Pro Bowl being played a week before the Super Bowl.
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