What to Look For in the NFL Conference Championships

A FANTASTIC FINAL FOUROn Championship Sunday, the Super Bowl LV participants will be determined. In the NFC (3:05 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (13-5) take on the GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-3) while the BUFFALO BILLS (15-3) travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (15-2) in the AFC (6:40 PM ET, CBS/CBS All Access/ESPN Deportes).

Each of the remaining teams has won at least 13 regular-season and postseason games combined this season, marking the first time since 2015 that all four teams in the Conference Championship games each have at least 13 combined regular-season and postseason wins.

Additionally, each of the four teams in action this weekend averaged at least 29 points per game in the regular season, marking the first time in the Super Bowl era that all four teams in the Conference Championship games averaged at least 29 points per game. Green Bay (31.8 points per game), Buffalo (31.3) and Tampa Bay (30.8) were the three highest scoring teams in the league this season.

With victories by the Packers and Bills on Sunday, the Super Bowl would feature the two highest-scoring teams from the regular season for the fifth time since 1970 and the first time since 1997.

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

TOP PASSERS REMAINEach of the four starting quarterbacks remaining in the 2020 postseason recorded at least 35 touchdown passes this season – Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS (48 touchdown passes), Tampa Bay’s TOM BRADY (40), Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (38) and Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN (37). ​

This is the first time since 1970 that each of the four starting quarterbacks in the Conference Championship games recorded at least 35 touchdown passes in the regular season.

No matter the outcome of this Sunday’s games, Super Bowl LV will have the most or second-most combined regular season touchdown passes between the two starting quarterbacks ever.

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

BRING IT HOMELast week, the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS defeated New Orleans, 30-20, to advance to their fourth NFC Championship Game in franchise history.

With a win at Green Bay on Sunday (3:05 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), the Buccaneers will become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in the team’s home stadium and the fifth team to play in a Super Bowl that was hosted in their home state.

Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters Championship Sunday as the NFL’s all-time postseason leader in starts (43), wins (32), passing yards (11,968) and touchdown passes (77). He is expected to make his 14th career start in a Conference Championship game, and first with Tampa Bay.

If the Buccaneers advance to Super Bowl LV, Brady will become the fourth quarterback to start a Super Bowl for multiple teams, joining PEYTON MANNING (Denver and Indianapolis), CRAIG MORTON (Dallas and Denver) and Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (Arizona and St. Louis Rams).

Tampa Bay cornerback SEAN MURPHY-BUNTING has an interception in each of the Buccaneers’ two postseason games this season. With an interception on Sunday, Murphy-Bunting with become the fourth player to record an interception in each of his first three career postseason games in the Super Bowl era, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers AENEAS WILLIAMS (first four postseason games) and ED REED (three), as well as JASON SEHORN (three).

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

HUNTING MORE TITLES IN TITLETOWN: The GREEN BAY PACKERS advanced to their second consecutive Conference Championship with a 32-18 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Playoffs. With the win, Green Bay tied the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36 wins) for the second-most postseason victories in NFL history. ​

With a win against the Buccaneers on Sunday (3:05 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), the Packers would tie the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (37 wins) for the most postseason victories in NFL history.

Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS led the NFL with a career-high 48 touchdown passes this season. If the Packers advance to Super Bowl LV, Rodgers will be the sixth quarterback since 2000 and first since PEYTON MANNING in 2013 to reach the Super Bowl in the same season that he led the league in touchdown passes.

Last week, Rodgers passed for 296 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions and a 108.1 rating, his eighth consecutive postseason game with at least two touchdown passes, tied with JOE FLACCO (eight consecutive games) for the most consecutive postseason games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history.

With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers will become the first player in league annals to record at least two touchdown passes in nine consecutive postseason games.

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

RUN IT BACK: The reigning Super Bowl champion KANSAS CITY CHIEFS are hosting their third consecutive AFC Championship Game, joining the 2002-04 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – who were also led by head coach ANDY REID – as the only teams in NFL history to host three consecutive Championship games. The Chiefs also look to become the first team since the 2003-04 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Last year, quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES became the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP. If Kansas City defeats Buffalo on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, CBS/CBS All Access/ESPN Deportes), Mahomes is expected to become the youngest quarterback in NFL history (25 years and 143 days old on date of Super Bowl LV) to start two Super Bowls, surpassing RUSSELL WILSON, who was 26 years and 64 days old at the time of his second Super Bowl start (SB XLIX).  

Last week, Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded eight receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown, his fourth career postseason game with at least 100 receiving yards, tied for the most by a tight end in NFL history.

In 10 career postseason games, Kelce has totaled 60 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns, all among the most by a tight end in postseason history. Tampa Bay tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI is the leader in all three categories.

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

SUPER STEFON: Last week, the BUFFALO BILLS defeated Baltimore, 17-3, to advance to their first AFC Championship Game since the 1993 season.

Wide receiver STEFON DIGGS recorded a team-high 106 receiving yards with a touchdown catch in the victory, after leading the league with a career-high 1,535 receiving yards in the 2020 regular season.

If Buffalo defeats Kansas City on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, CBS/CBS All Access/ESPN Deportes), Diggs will become the third player to reach the Super Bowl in the same season that he led the league in receiving yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1989 and 1994) and DREW PEARSON (1977).

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

RUNNING THROUGH THE NFC: Last week, Green Bay running back AARON JONES rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown, his third consecutive postseason game with a rushing touchdown.

With a rushing touchdown in the NFC Championship Game, Jones will become the fourth player in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown in each of his first four postseason games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (first seven postseason games) and CURTIS MARTIN (first five games), as well as ARIAN FOSTER (first four games).

Tampa Bay running back LEONARD FOURNETTE recorded 107 scrimmage yards (63 rushing, 44 receiving) and a receiving touchdown in the Divisional Playoffs, his fourth consecutive postseason game with at least 75 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

In the NFC Championship game, Fournette can become the fifth running back with at least 75 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in five consecutive postseason games in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (seven games), MARCUS ALLEN (five), FRANCO HARRIS (five) and JOHN RIGGINS (five).

COURTESY NFLmedia.com

Posted in NFL
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