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NFL Conference Championship Games: What to Look For

NEW FACES ON CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND: The NFL will have a new Super Bowl Champion for a 15th consecutive season as four teams vie to secure their place in Super Bowl LIV. In the AFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, the TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) take on the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-4), while the GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-3) travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14-3) in the NFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax.

Of the teams appearing on Championship Sunday, three teams – Green Bay, San Francisco and Tennessee – missed the postseason in 2018, marking the sixth time that at least three teams have advanced to the Championship games after failing to make the postseason the previous year since the NFL instituted the 12-team playoff format in 1990 and the second time in the past three seasons.

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: With a 28-12 victory over the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) became the sixth No. 6 seed to advance to a Conference Championship since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990 and first since the GREEN BAY PACKERS and NEW YORK JETS in 2010.

With a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (3:05 PM ET, CBS), Tennessee would join the 2010 GREEN BAY PACKERS and the 2005 PITTSBURGH STEELERS as the only No. 6 seeds to appear in the Super Bowl since 1990 when the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format. Both the Packers and Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl in those seasons.

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Super Bowl since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990:

SEASON TEAM CONFERENCE ADVANCED TO
2010 Green Bay NFC Won Super Bowl XLV
2005 Pittsburgh AFC Won Super Bowl XL
       
2019 Tennessee AFC ??

 

Additionally, Tennessee could also join the 2010 Green Bay Packers and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams to defeat each of the top three seeds in their conference in a single postseason since 1990.

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

KING HENRY CONTINUES HIS REIGN: Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for a postseason franchise-record 195 yards in the Titans’ Divisional Playoff win last week. After rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown on Wild Card Weekend against New England, Henry became the first player with at least 180 rushing yards in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 150 rushing yards on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (1998-99) as the only players with at least 150 rushing yards in three consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 123 rushing yards on Sunday against Kansas City (3:05 PM ET, CBS), Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers JOHN RIGGINS (610 rushing yards in 1982) and TERRELL DAVIS (581 in 1997) as the only players with at least 500 rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history.

The players with the most rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON RUSHING YARDS
John RigginsHOF Washington 1982 610
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1997 581
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1998 468
Marcus AllenHOF LA Raiders 1983 466
Eddie George Tennessee 1999 449
       
Derrick Henry Tennessee 2019 377*
*Entering Sunday

Henry has 561 rushing yards in four career postseason games. With at least 112 rushing yards on Sunday, he would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (672 yards) for the most rushing yards through a player’s first five career postseason games in NFL history.

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in the regular season in 2019. With a win on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (1998) and EMMITT SMITH (1992-93, 1995), as well as SHAUN ALEXANDER (2005) as the only single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season.

The single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON RUSHING YARDS SUPER BOWL
Shaun Alexander Seattle 2005 1,880 XL
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1998 2,008 XXXIII
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1995 1,773 XXX
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1993 1,486 XXVIII
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1992 1,713 XXVII


– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

AFC GOES THROUGH CHIEFS KINGDOM: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS advanced to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history with a 51-31 win over Houston in the Divisional Playoffs. In the victory, Kansas City became the first team to win a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 points in the same game in NFL history.

Kansas City’s comeback in the Divisional Playoffs marked the second comeback of at least 16 points in the postseason this year after the HOUSTON TEXANS erased a 16-point deficit in an overtime win over Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend. This marks the second time in which there have been two comebacks of at least 16 points in a single postseason in NFL history (2002).

Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES led the comeback with 321 passing yards and five touchdowns without an interception for a 134.6 passer rating and added 53 yards on the ground, becoming the first player with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdown passes, and 50 rushing yards in a single postseason game in NFL history.

If Mahomes, who has eight touchdown passes in three career postseason games, has at least three touchdown passes on Sunday against Tennessee (3:05 PM ET, CBS), he would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (11) for the most touchdown passes through a player’s first four career postseason games in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in their first four postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM TOUCHDOWN PASSES  
Kurt WarnerHOF St. Louis Rams 11  
Dan MarinoHOF Miami 10  
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 10  
Alex Smith San Francisco, Kansas City 10  
 
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City 8*  
*In three games

Additionally, with at least four touchdown passes, Mahomes would become the first player with at least four touchdown passes in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded postseason career-highs in receptions (10), receiving yards (134) and receiving touchdowns (three) last week, becoming the third tight end with at least three touchdown receptions in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

If Kelce, who has three career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards, has at least 100 receiving yards against Tennessee (3:05 PM ET, CBS), he would tie for the most such career postseason games by a tight end in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM GAMES WITH 100+ RECEIVING YARDS
Vernon Davis San Francisco 4
Rob Gronkowski New England 4
Keith Jackson Philadelphia, Miami, Green Bay 4
Dallas Clark Indianapolis 3
Travis Kelce Kansas City 3*
Greg Olsen Chicago, Carolina 3
*Entering Sunday

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

HUNTING MORE TITLES IN TITLETOWN: The GREEN BAY PACKERS advanced to their first Conference Championship since 2016 with a 28-23 victory over Seattle in the Divisional Playoffs. With the victory, Green Bay tied the DALLAS COWBOYS (35 wins) for the third-most postseason victories in NFL history.

With a win against the 49ers, who rank fifth on the all-time list with 31 postseason wins, on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, FOX), the Packers would tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36 wins) for the second-most postseason victories in NFL history.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM WINS SUPER BOWL WINS
New England 37 6
Pittsburgh 36 6
Dallas 35 5
Green Bay 35 4
San Francisco 31 5

Green Bay head coach MATT LAFLEUR became the first head coach to reach a Conference Championship in his first season since JIM HARBAUGH led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game in 2011.

With a win on Sunday, LaFleur would become the sixth rookie head coach to appear in the Super Bowl.

The rookie head coaches to appear in the Super Bowl:

HEAD COACH TEAM SEASON RESULT
Don McCafferty Baltimore Colts 1970 W 16-13, Super Bowl V
Red Miller Denver 1977 L 27-10, Super Bowl XII
George Seifert San Francisco 1989 W 55-10, Super Bowl XXIV
Bill Callahan Oakland 2002 L 48-21, Super Bowl XXXVII
Jim Caldwell Indianapolis 2009 L 31-17, Super Bowl XLIV
       
Matt LaFleur Green Bay 2019 ??

With LaFleur (40 years, 66 days old) and San Francisco head coach KYLE SHANAHAN (40 years, 36 days old), Sunday’s NFC Championship Game will be the first Conference Championship Game featuring two head coaches under the age of 41 since 1970.

Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a 113.7 passer rating last week, marking Rodgers’ sixth consecutive postseason game with at least two touchdown passes.

With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRY BRADSHAW (seven games) and JOE MONTANA (seven), as well as DREW BREES (seven), for the second-longest streak of postseason games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history. Only JOE FLACCO (eight games) had a longer such streak in league history.

Additionally, with two touchdown passes, Rodgers would tie PEYTON MANNING (40) for the fourth-most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Tom Brady New England 73
Joe MontanaHOF San Francisco, Kansas City 45
Brett FavreHOF Green Bay, Minnesota 44
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 40
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 38*
*Entering Sunday

Rodgers, who has 4,700 passing yards in 17 career postseason starts, needs at least 300 passing yards on Sunday to become the sixth player with at least 5,000 career postseason passing yards in NFL history, joining TOM BRADY (11,388), PEYTON MANNING (7,339), Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE (5,855) and JOE MONTANA (5,772), and BEN ROETHLISBERGER (5,256).

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

NEW GOLDEN ERA: With a 27-10 win over Minnesota in the Divisional Playoffs, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS became the fifth team since 1990 to advance to a Championship Game after winning four-or-fewer games the previous season, and the second team in three years, joining the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS in 2017.

With a victory on Sunday against Green Bay (6:40 PM ET, FOX), San Francisco head coach KYLE SHANAHAN, whose father – MIKE SHANAHAN – won Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII as head coach of the DENVER BRONCOS, would become the first father-son duo to each appear in a Super Bowl as a head coach in NFL history.

In their Divisional Playoff victory, the 49ers defense tallied six team sacks, tied for the second-most in a single postseason game in franchise history.

With at least six sacks on Sunday against Green Bay, the 2019 San Francisco 49ers would join the 1984 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS as the only teams with at least six sacks in two consecutive postseason games in the Super Bowl era.

49ers rookie defensive lineman NICK BOSA recorded two sacks in his postseason debut last week. With at least two sacks on Sunday, Bosa would join LAMARR WOODLEY as the only players with at least two sacks in each of their first two postseason games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Bosa would also become the first rookie to accomplish the feat since 1982.

– CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS –

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NFL COMMUNICATIONS; COURTESY NFLmedia.com

 

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