The 2014 NFL playoffs are winding down with just three games left on the schedule, but they all promise to be some of the most exciting contests of the season.
If you’ve just emerged from under a rock, you’ll be pleased to know that the AFC Championship Game is pitting Tom Brady and his New England Patriots against Peyton Manning for the 15th time. The NFC Championship Game is a battle between fierce NFC West rivals the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, which projects to be a bloodbath.
You won't want to miss a single minute of either contest, so keep reading to find out when they take place, where you can watch, what to keep an eye on and more.
|AFC||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||Jan. 19||3 p.m.||CBS|
|NFC||San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||Jan. 19||6:30 p.m.||FOX|
AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots (2) at Denver Broncos (1)
When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
Betting Line: Broncos -5.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
As mentioned, this game starts and ends with the quarterbacks.
Brady and Manning will be meeting for the fourth time in the playoffs and for the third time with the Super Bowl on the line. The Pats signal-caller holds a 10-4 all-time advantage over his rival and is 2-1 against Manning in the postseason, but the two future Hall of Famers are split in their AFC Championship Game showdowns.
Each has won one apiece, which makes this the rubber match that everyone has been waiting for. With both men in the twilight of their prestigious careers, it may be the last time we see these titans on the same field.
The last time we saw these two together, Brady was engineering a comeback from a 24-0 deficit at halftime in Week 12 of the regular season. The Pats would force overtime and go on to win that contest in Foxborough, 34-31, capping off the largest comeback in franchise history.
That collapse left a sour taste in Manning’s mouth, and the star quarterback is likely aching for a chance to redeem himself on Sunday. He’ll also get a chance to surpass Brady on the all-time playoff passing yards list, although it’ll take a superhuman performance coupled with a pedestrian one from the Pats quarterback.
Here’s a look at the current record, courtesy of Fox Sports:
Most pass yards in NFL playoff history: Tom Brady 6147 Peyton Manning 5909— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 13, 2014
Which team will win?
While it’s almost impossible to predict who is going to win this next round—the Broncos are projected to defend home-field advantage by the oddsmakers in Vegas, but it’s far from certain—it is guaranteed to be one of the best games of the year.
NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers (5) at Seattle Seahawks (1)
When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
Betting Line: Seahawks -3.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
This is hands-down one of the best matchups that a football fan can ask for. These are the two best teams in the NFC that just happen to play in the same division and have been vying for control of the conference for the past two seasons.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll spoke about the matchup on ESPN 710 Seattle, as per ESPN’s Terry Blount:
I think it's the matchup that everybody wanted like to see. We don't mind it one bit and they don't mind it, either. It'll be a great one...These are the two teams everyone was talking about early in the year, so it's interesting how accurate all the [predictors] were. There's not a better matchup you could find right now in the NFC. We're thrilled about it.
The Niners and ‘Hawks split their regular-season matchups in 2013, with each squad protecting its home field and coming away with a win. However, this game will be played in Seattle, and that could make all the difference.
The Seahawks have owned opponents at their home digs, losing just one game this season at CenturyLink Field. They went undefeated at home, including in the playoffs, during the 2012 campaign and have been one of the strongest teams in the league when playing in Seattle.
It’s been a house of nightmares for the Niners, as the Seahawks outscored them by 55 points (71-16) during their previous two trips to the Pacific Northwest. Credit Seattle’s top-ranked defense for executing the game plan and making life miserable for young San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick.
Which team will win?
While Kaepernick is 4-0 in road playoff games during his short tenure as a starter, he’s been abysmal when travelling to Seattle. He generated just 127 yards passing with three interceptions during San Francisco’s 29-3 loss in Week 2, which came after his team was embarrassed, 42-13, in the 2012 meeting.
Unless something drastic changes, it’s hard to bet against Seattle coming away with another win at home. This group is too good there and seems destined for a Super Bowl appearance.