With the 2012 conference championship round just a day away, one question has every sports fan anxiously awaiting NFL Sunday: Who will play in Super Bowl XLVI? Right now, four teams remain. Heart and determination will decide which two advance.
Tom Brady's playoff greatness continued last week in the divisional round, when the Patriots embarrassed Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos, 45-10. Brady put the game out of contention early, throwing for five touchdowns in the first half. Of those five, three were to Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. Brady's final stat line was an impressive 26-of-34 for 363 yards and six TDs.
He is now in the AFC Championship Game for the sixth time in his 12-year career. With a win on Sunday, Brady would tie his childhood idol, Joe Montana, for the most postseason wins by an NFL quarterback with 16.
The Ravens knocked out the Texans playing the kind of football they are known for: hard-hitting, defensive football. Although Joe Flacco had his struggles, the defense picked him up and put on a show. An impressive defensive unit with size, strength and athleticism picked off the Texans' T.J. Yates three times and forced a crucial fumble, which was the turning point in the game. The Ravens won the game 20-13.
In the NFC divisional round, the 49ers looked fantastic and played with a lot of emotion in front of their home fans. Their 36-32 "upset" of the Saints, whom many thought would win the Super Bowl, was exhilarating and inspiring. The Niners' defense is known for keeping them in games, but this time it would be Alex Smith stepping up and having the best game of his career.
This one turned out to be a shootout in which there were four lead changes in the final four minutes. Smith impressively put his team on his back and drove down the field to throw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis with 11 seconds left. Smith finished with 299 yards through the air and accounted for four touchdowns (including a 28-yard TD run).
Davis was a beast all game, proving to be too much for the Saints to handle. The game-winning touchdown caped off a magical night for the sixth-year pro out of Maryland, who finished with seven catches for 180 yards and two scores.
In the final game of the night, the New York Giants dismantled the Green Bay Packers 37-20 at Lambeau Field in a game in which Eli Manning drastically outplayed Aaron Rodgers. Manning threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and now has a 9:1 TD:INT ratio in his last three games.
Hakeem Nicks tore apart the Packers secondary, hauling in eight balls for 165 yards and two scores. The Giants defense looked terrific. The pass rush was fierce and the secondary played without a doubt its best game of the season. The Giants have won four in a row and are red-hot.
As everyone knows, each potential Super Bowl matchup will be accompanied by a more than intriguing storyline. Here are the top four scenarios to watch for as conference championship week unfolds.