NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: What to Watch for During Conference Championships

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 13:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Houston Texans during the 2013 AFC Divisional Playoffs game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL Playoffs are quickly winding down, with just two highly anticipated games left to decide who will partake in Super Bowl XLVII.

Both the AFC Championship—between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots—and NFC Championship—which pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Atlanta Falcons—promise to be highly exciting matchups between some of the best teams in football.

You aren’t going to want to miss a second of action and there will be no shortage of it, so here’s a look at when and where to catch the contests, plus a few things to keep an eye out for.


2013 NFL Playoff Schedule 



Start Time (ET)


NFC Championship Game (49ers vs. Falcons)

Sun, Jan. 20

3 p.m.


AFC Championship Game (Ravens vs. Patriots)

Sun, Jan. 20

6:30 p.m.



What to Watch for: AFC Championship Edition

Tom Brady’s Mastery of the Position

The New England signal-caller is playing out of his mind right now and is undoubtedly the best remaining quarterback in the playoffs.

If Brady wants to secure his legacy and be remembered as one of, if not the best quarterback of all-time, he needs to achieve victory over the Ravens and hoist the Lombardi Trophy on February 3.

However, Baltimore has no fear of the decorated 35-year-old and will give Brady one of the toughest tests he has seen during his career.


Ray Lewis’ Last Hurrah?

Before the postseason began, the superstar middle linebacker told teammates and the world that he would be done after the Ravens following this season, regardless of whether the Ravens were eliminated in the postseason.

However, the team has rallied behind Lewis and isn’t looking to get eliminated, but rather go out undefeated in the playoffs and capture their star one last Super Bowl before his retirement.

It’ll be tough, but the Ravens have the heart (as evidenced by their double overtime win in the divisional round) to pull this upset out. If they fail, it’s still been one heck of a ride for the 17-year veteran.



What to Watch for: NFC Championship Edition

Colin Kaepernick’s Legs

The Niners QB put on one of the best rushing performances in NFL postseason history last week, when he torched the Green Bay Packers for 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

That rushing yardage was the most by a QB in the long history of not only the playoffs but all the NFL and proved that coach Jim Harbaugh made the right decision to send Alex Smith to the bench in favor of Kaepernick earlier in the season.

It’s highly doubtful the Falcons will concede anywhere near that many yards to Kaepernick on the ground, especially now that they are clued in to just how deadly he can be when outside the pocket.

Expect the D to work hard in order to force this first-year starter to heave some balls down the field.


Falcons to Play 60 Minutes of Football

After taking a 20-0 halftime lead in the divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks, many thought ATL had the win in the bag.

However, Russell Wilson guided the Hawks back and eventually took the lead late in the game. It required a Matt Bryant field goal in the waning seconds to push the Dirty Birds over the edge and that simply never should have happened.

If Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons are going to be taken seriously, they are going to need to compete the hardest they can from the opening kick to the closing whistle.