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NFL Championship Weekend Preview

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Jan 17, 2017
Championship Weekend Preview
FOUR TEAMS REMAIN AS NFL ENTERS CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

The final four teams are set and this Sunday will determine the two teams heading to Houston for Super Bowl LI.

Visitor Home Time Network
NFC Championship Game Green Bay Packers Atlanta Falcons 3:05 PM ET FOX
AFC Championship Game Pittsburgh Steelers New England Patriots 6:40 PM ET CBS

 

Championship Sunday begins with the NFC title game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons in the final NFL game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated Seattle 36-20 in the Divisional round and the Packers knocked off the top-seeded Cowboys 34-31. The teams met in Week 8 (October 30, 2016) with the Falcons notching a 33-32 victory.

The AFC Championship Game will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, the fifth postseason meeting between the clubs and the third in a row that will occur in the AFC Championship Game. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Steelers knocked off the Chiefs 18-16 and the Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-6) at ATLANTA FALCONS (12-5) (Sunday, FOX, 3:05 PM ET)      

  • This is the fourth postseason meeting between the teams and the first since the 2010 season. Green Bay has won two of the previous three playoff meetings, including a 48-21 win over Atlanta on January 15, 2011.
  • The Packers lead the all-time series 17-14 (including the postseason). Green Bay has won four of the past five meetings. Atlanta won the last contest between the clubs, knocking off the Packers 33-32 at the Georgia Dome in Week 8 (October 30, 2016).
  • The Packers are 11-5 (.688) all-time in NFC/NFL Championship Games and the team’s 11 victories are the most in NFL history. Green Bay is making its first NFC Championship Game appearance since the 2014 season (January 18, 2015) when the Packers lost 28-22 in overtime at Seattle.
  • Green Bay defeated Dallas 34-31 last week in the Divisional Playoffs. It marked their 34th postseason victory, tied with the Cowboys for the most by an NFC team.
  • Packers head coach MIKE MC CARTHY won his 10th career postseason game last week, the most in franchise history.
  • The Packers have won eight consecutive games, outscoring opponents 257-156 during that span.
  • Packers quarterback AARON RODGERS, who has passed for at least 350 yards and multiple touchdowns in both playoff games this season, has a 100.1 career postseason passer rating, one of four quarterbacks in NFL history to have a 100+ rating (minimum 150 attempts).
  • Rodgers completed a 25+ yard pass to five different receivers last week – WR DAVANTE ADAMS, WR GERONIMO ALLISON, WR RANDALL COBB, TE JARED COOK & TE RICHARD RODGERS.
  • Green Bay kicker MASON CROSBY made a 56-yard field goal with 1:33 remaining and converted the game-winning 51-yarder as time expired. The 51-yard field goal was the longest game-winning field goal in NFL postseason history and Crosby is the first player in league annals to make two 50+ yard field goals in the final two minutes of a playoff game.
  • Packers running back TY MONTGOMERY rushed for two touchdowns in the first half last week to become only the second Green Bay player to rush for multiple TDs in the first half of a playoff game (RYAN GRANT, January 12, 2008).
  • The Packers had three players selected to the Pro Bowl: safety HA HA CLINTON-DIX (first), guard T.J. LANG (first) and quarterback Rodgers (sixth).
  • The Falcons have advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the fourth time in franchise history. Atlanta is making its first appearance in the NFC Championship Game since the 2012 season (January 20, 2013) when the Falcons lost 28-24 to San Francisco at the Georgia Dome.
  • Atlanta defeated Seattle 36-20 last week in the Divisional Playoffs. It marked the first career postseason victory for second-year head coach DAN QUINN.
  • Atlanta led the NFL with 540 points scored during the regular season, the first time in franchise history the Falcons have ranked No. 1 in that category. Including last week’s Divisional Playoff game, Atlanta has scored a touchdown on its first possession in each of the past seven games.
  • Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN completed 26 of 37 passes (70.3 percent) for 338 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 125.7 passer rating in last week’s victory. Ryan has posted a passer rating of at least 120 in each of his past five games and has 14 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 131.8 passer rating during that span.
  • Ryan has thrown at least three TD passes in three consecutive playoff games, tied for the longest streak in NFL history.
  • During the regular season, Ryan threw a touchdown pass to 13 different players, the most in a season in NFL history.
  • Falcons wide receiver JULIO JONES was the only player in the NFL this season to average at least 100 receiving yards per game (100.6). Jones tied for the team-lead with six receiving touchdowns and had a touchdown catch last week.
  • Atlanta linebacker VIC BEASLEY JR. led the NFL with a career-high 15.5 sacks.
  • Atlanta had six players selected to the Pro Bowl: linebacker Beasley (first), kicker MATT BRYANT (first), running back DEVONTA FREEMAN (second), wide receiver Jones (fourth), center ALEX MACK (fourth) and quarterback Ryan (fourth).

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-5) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-2) (Sunday, CBS, 6:40 PM ET)      

  • This is the fifth postseason meeting between the teams and the third in a row that will occur in the AFC Championship Game. New England has won three of the four playoff meetings against Pittsburgh, including the past two to advance to the Super Bowl. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 41-27 in the 2004 AFC Championship Game (January 23, 2005) and 24-17 in the 2001 AFC Championship Game (January 27, 2002). New England won the Super Bowl both of those years.
  • The Steelers lead the all-time series 15-14 (including the postseason). The Patriots have won the past three meetings, including victories in each of the past two regular seasons. New England knocked off Pittsburgh 28-21 to open the 2015 regular season (September 10, 2015) and defeated the Steelers 27-16 in Week 7 earlier this year (October 23, 2016).
  • Pittsburgh will play in the team’s 16th Championship Game, the most since the 1970 merger. The Steelers have won eight AFC Championship Games, tied with Denver and New England for the most ever.
  • Pittsburgh defeated Kansas City 18-16 in last week’s Divisional Playoffs. It marked the Steelers’ 36th postseason victory, the most in NFL history.
  • Steelers head coach MIKE TOMLIN won his 8th career postseason game and looks to lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl for the third time in his career.
  • Pittsburgh running back LE’VEON BELL rushed for 170 yards last week and is the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 150 yards in each of his first two postseason games. Bell, who had 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Wild Card win against Miami, has the two highest single-game rushing performances in franchise postseason history.
  • Steelers wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN had six catches for 108 yards last week against the Chiefs, his fourth consecutive playoff game with at least 100 receiving yards. Brown is tied with LARRY FITZGERALD(four in the 2008 playoffs) for the longest streak of consecutive playoff games with at least 100 receiving yards.
  • Pittsburgh quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER has now won 13 of his 19 career postseason starts and will play in his fifth AFC Championship Game.
  • Steelers kicker CHRIS BOSWELL made all six field-goal attempts in last week’s win at Kansas City, the most field goals made in a single postseason game in NFL history.
  • Pittsburgh had five players selected to the Pro Bowl: running back Bell (second), wide receiver Brown (fifth), guard DAVID DE CASTRO (second), center MAURKICE POUNCEY (fifth) and quarterback Roethlisberger (fifth).
  • New England has advanced to its sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game and are the first team since the 1970 merger to advance to six Conference Championship Games in a row.
  • The Patriots have won eight AFC Championship Games, tied with Denver and Pittsburgh for the most ever. New England is 5-1 all-time in AFC Championship Games played at home.
  • The Patriots defeated Houston 34-16 last week in the Divisional Playoffs. Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK and quarterback TOM BRADY have won 23 postseason games together, the most in NFL history by a head coach and starting quarterback combination. In fact, no other head coach and starting quarterback have even participated in that many games together.
  • Belichick has advanced to 11 Conference Championship Games, the most by a head coach since the 1970 merger.
  • Brady has 23 career playoff wins, the most by any starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady is also the NFL postseason leader in career completions (756), attempts (1,221), passing yards (8,244) and touchdown passes (58).
  • Patriots running back DION LEWIS had a 13-yard touchdown reception, a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown and a one-yard touchdown run in the Divisional Playoffs. Lewis, who was making his postseason debut, is the only player in NFL history to have a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a kickoff-return touchdown in a single playoff game.
  • New England wide receiver JULIAN EDELMAN had eight catches for 137 yards against Houston. Edelman has 76 career postseason catches with the Patriots, the most in franchise history.
  • Cornerback LOGAN RYAN and safeties DEVIN MC COURTY and DURON HARMON each had an interception last week against Houston.
  • The Patriots had four players selected to the Pro Bowl: quarterback Brady (12th), linebacker DONT’A HIGHTOWER (first), safety McCourty (third) and special teamer MATTHEW SLATER (sixth).

by NFL Media

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.