With the divisional round now officially over after Sunday's games, just four teams remain in their quest for Super Bowl 50.
In the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals will travel to Carolina to face the Panthers, while the Denver Broncos will host the New England Patriots for the AFC crown.
Here are the initial Super Bowl odds for each of the remaining four teams courtesy of Oddschecker.
|Super Bowl 50 Initial Odds|
|New England Patriots||AFC||9/4|
The NFC contains a matchup of two teams who have never won a Super Bowl, though the Cardinals franchise has been around significantly longer than the Panthers.
No matter the result, this already is a historic game, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
For the 1st time in the Super Bowl era, Heisman Trophy-winning QBs will face off in a playoff game (@EliasSports) https://t.co/dp4GYVx1b02016-1-17 22:13:28
Carolina, though, enters the NFC Championship Game 16-1 after an explosive first half against the Seattle Seahawks that saw it build a 31-0 halftime lead. The Panthers were able to outlast Seattle to make their fourth appearance in a conference title game in their 21-year history.
They've been pretty good at home too, as noted by NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano:
Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano
.@Panthers haven’t lost a home game in 427 days, if you’re counting.2016-1-17 22:08:58
The Cardinals might have fate on their side, though. They overcame an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary to beat the Green Bay Packers in overtime on Saturday.
In what was the craziest game in recent memory, we'd be remiss if we left out how the Cardinals got here, courtesy of the NFL:
What a game! Check out the full highlights of an all-time classic right here. #GBvsAZ https://t.co/q1LrFawRKd2016-1-17 05:23:07
Over in the AFC, it's all pedestrian for the New England Patriots, who will be playing in their fifth consecutive conference title game. Quarterback Tom Brady seems to have his weapons back healthy in tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, which is dangerous for the Denver Broncos.
The trio was clicking against the overmatched Kansas City Chiefs in its first game together since Week 10, as these stats from the Patriots' official Twitter show:
New England Patriots @Patriots
#Patriots offensive stats leaders: #DoYourJob https://t.co/5PkSus9jX12016-1-17 01:05:08
Brady will meet his arch-nemesis, Peyton Manning, in the matchup America will never get tired of watching.
SNY's Josh Newman thinks that some television executives aren't tired of seeing that matchup either:
Josh Newman @Joshua_Newman
2:00 from Brady vs, Manning next week. We go live to CBS executives https://t.co/2geguuLrhp2016-1-18 00:37:46
While it looks like Manning is on his last legs, he found a way to defeat a hobbled Pittsburgh Steelers team on Sunday thanks to a fourth-quarter rushing touchdown by running back C.J. Anderson, per the NFL:
Nothing was going to stop C.J. Anderson from charging into the end zone. Broncos take the lead! #PITvsDEN https://t.co/EaXrAvXHWQ2016-1-18 00:30:16
Manning will need to rekindle the magic that made him the best quarterback of a generation if he wants to take down Brady and make it to the Super Bowl for a fourth time.
If the Broncos want a chance of winning, they'll need to rely on their defense, which was the best in the league all season. That's the only way to give Manning a chance at what could be a grand ending to such a storied career.