And then there were four. The National Football League’s version of the Final Four gets underway Sunday in the Pacific Northwest and by the time the contest in Foxboro is over, America will know who will be in Super Bowl 49.

Four teams.

Two spots.

It’s winner pack your bags and head to Glendale, Arizona and the loser? They get to empty their lockers and prepare for the draft in April.

“It’s fun to still be alive in the playoffs,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “It’s exciting this time of year when you’re still playing.”

CLOSE GAMES: The NFC Championship Game has featured close games in each of the past seven seasons, including three overtime games. There have been seven consecutive NFC Championship Games decided by seven points or fewer, the longest streak in conference championship game history.

The NFC’s Number 2 seed Green Bay will travel this Sunday to play Number 1 seed Seattle. The Seahawks had six games this season that finished within seven points or fewer, while the Packers had five such games.

The past seven NFC Championship Games decided by seven points or fewer:
SEASON – TEAMS (WINNER and FINAL SCORE)
2007 – New York Giants at Green Bay (New York Giants 23-20)*
2008 – Philadelphia at Arizona (Arizona 32-25)
2009 – Minnesota at New Orleans (New Orleans 31-28)*
2010 – Green Bay at Chicago (Green Bay 21-14)
2011 – New York Giants at San Francisco (New York Giants 20-17)*
2012 – San Francisco at Atlanta (San Francisco 28-24)
2013 – San Francisco at Seattle (Seattle 23-17)
2014 – Green Bay at Seattle (???)
*Overtime

SUPER FOLLOW-UPS: Defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle defeated Carolina 31-17 last week in the Divisional Round. With a win Sunday against Green Bay, the Seahawks can become the 12th team in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season.

Eight Super Bowl winners won the title game the next year and three lost it.

The teams to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season:

SEASON – SUPER BOWL (WINNER, NEXT SEASON)
1966 – I (Green Bay, Won Super Bowl)
1972 – VII (Miami, Won Super Bowl)
1974 – IX (Pittsburgh, Won Super Bowl)
1977 – XII (Dallas, Lost Super Bowl)
1978 – XIII (Pittsburgh, Won Super Bowl)
1982 – XVII (Washington, Lost Super Bowl)
1988 – XXIII (San Francisco, Won Super Bowl)
1992 – XXVII (Dallas, Won Super Bowl)
1996 – XXXI (Green Bay, Lost Super Bowl)
1997 – XXXII (Denver, Won Super Bowl)
2003 – XXXVIII (New England, Won Super Bowl)
2013 – XLVIII (Seattle, ???)

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Green Bay and Indianapolis travel this weekend to face Seattle and New England, respectively. The Packers (10) are tied with Baltimore for the most road wins in postseason history while the Colts (eight) are currently tied for the fourth-most with the New York Giants and Tennessee.

With wins this Sunday, the Packers will have the most postseason wins on the road and the Colts will tie Dallas (nine) for the third-most postseason road victories.

The teams with the most road wins in postseason history:

TEAM – MOST ROAD POSTSEASON WINS
Green Bay – 10*
Baltimore – 10
Dallas – 9
Indianapolis – 8*
New York Giants – 8
Tennessee – 8
*Plays on the road Sunday

SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP: In 2014, New England won the AFC East title for the 16th time and has advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the 11th time and fourth straight. The Patriots are 7-3 (.700) in AFC Championship Games all-time.

With a win against Indianapolis on Sunday, New England (seven) can tie Dallas (eight) and Pittsburgh (eight) for the most Super Bowl berths in NFL history.

The teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:

TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Dallas – 8
Pittsburgh – 8
New England – 7*
Denver – 7
San Francisco – 6
*Active Sunday

SUPER COMBINATION: New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have made five Super Bowl appearances together, the most appearances by any head coach-quarterback combination in NFL history. With a win Sunday against the Colts, they can extend their NFL record for the most such Super Bowl appearances.

The head coach-quarterback combinations with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history:

QUARTERBACK/HEAD COACH, TEAM (SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES)
Tom Brady/Bill Belichick, New England (5)*
Roger Staubach/Tom Landry, Dallas (4)
Jim Kelly/Marv Levy, Buffalo (4)
Terry Bradshaw/Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh (4)
*Active

With a win, Belichick (five) would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (six) as the only head coaches to lead their team(s) to six Super Bowls.

The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls:

HEAD COACH – SUPER BOWL BERTHS
Don Shula – 6
Bill Belichick – 5*
Tom Landry – 5
Five tied with 4
*Active Sunday

With a win, Brady would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (five) for the most conference championship wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. A victory on Sunday would send Brady to his sixth Super Bowl, the most ever by a starting quarterback.

The starting quarterbacks with the most Super Bowl appearances all-time:

PLAYER – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES (SUPER BOWL RECORD)
Tom Brady – 5 (3-2)*
John Elway 5 (2-3)^
Terry Bradshaw – 4 (4-0)^
Joe Montana – 4 (4-0)^
Roger Staubach – 4 (2-2)^
Jim Kelly – 4 (0-4)^
*Plays Sunday
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

POSTSEASON RATING: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will face one another in the NFC Championship this weekend in a rematch of the 2014 season opener. Wilson (109.6) and Rodgers (105.3) rank first and second, respectively, among quarterbacks with the highest postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest postseason passer rating (min. 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK – ATT./COMP. (YARDS/TD/INT, POSTSEASON PASSER RATING)
Russell Wilson – 152/97 (1,364/9/1, 109.6)*
Aaron Rodgers – 353/234 (2,805/22/5, 105.3)*
Bart Starr – 213/130 (1,753/15/3, 104.8)
Kurt Warner – 462/307 (3,952/31/14, 102.8)
Drew Brees – 464/306 (3,539/24/6, 100.7)
*Plays Sunday in NFC Championship Game

Rodgers has completed 120 of 174 passes for 1,470 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions for a 108.2 passer rating on the road in the postseason. Rodgers’ 108.2 passer rating in road playoff games is the highest rating in NFL history (min. 100 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest passer rating in road playoff games (min. 100 attempts):

QUARTERBACK – ATT./COMP. (YARDS/TD/INT, POSTSEASON PASSER RATING)
Aaron Rodgers – 174/120 (1,470/12/4, 108.2)*
Ben Roethlisberger – 112/71 (969/8/2, 107.3)
Philip Rivers – 134/84 (1,128/9/4, 99.3)
Roger Staubach – 134/77 (963/10/3, 95.5)
Eli Manning – 203/122 (1,406/11.2, 95.0)
*Plays Sunday in NFC Championship Game

AMAZING ADAM: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri has played in 29 career postseason games in his 19-year career. On Sunday against New England, Vinatieri can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (29) for the most postseason games played in NFL history.

New England quarterback Tom Brady (27), who is tied with D.D. Lewis (27) for the third-most postseason games played all-time, can move into sole possession of third place.

The players with the most postseason games played in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (POSTSEASON GAMES PLAYED)
Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis, New England (29)*
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle (29)
Tom Brady – New England (27)*
D.D. Lewis – Dallas (27)
*Plays Sunday in AFC Championship Game

Vinatieri has made a field goal in 13 consecutive playoff games dating back to 2005, tied for the longest streak in postseason history. With one field goal on Sunday, Vinatieri will surpass Tony Fritsch (13) for the most consecutive games with a field goal in postseason history.

CONSECUTIVE CHANCELLOR: Seattle safety Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown last week in the Seahawks’ 31-17 win over Carolina. Dating back to last postseason, Chancellor has an interception in three consecutive games.

With an interception on Sunday against Green Bay, Chancellor will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams (four) and Rodney Harrison (four) for the most consecutive postseason games with an interception.

The players with the most consecutive games with an interception in postseason history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH INTERCEPTION)
Aeneas Williams, Arizona-St. Louis (1998-2001, 4)
Rodney Harrison, New England (2004, 2007, 4)
Many tied with 3
Kam Chancellor, Seattle (2013-2014, 3)*
*Active streak

AFC TROPHY PRESENTATION: The Lamar Hunt Trophy will be presented to the winner of the AFC Championship Game.

The late Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and American Football League, helped professional football attain its stature as America’s No. 1 sport.  In the 10-year history of the AFL, his team posted the most wins (87) and earned berths in two of the first four Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl IV.

In 1972, Hunt became the first person from the AFL to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NFC TROPHY PRESENTATION: The winner of the NFC Championship Game will be presented with the George Halas Trophy.

Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears and a founder of the NFL, is the second-winningest coach in history (324-151-31) behind Don Shula (347-173-6). He won six NFL championships with the Bears and is a charter enshrinee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).

Championship Sunday begins with the NFC title game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks in a rematch of the Kickoff opener which Seattle won 36-16. The Seahawks defeated Carolina 31-17 last week while the Packers knocked off Dallas 26-21. The AFC Championship Game will feature the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots who met in Week 11 with New England winning 42-20. The Patriots defeated Baltimore 35-31 in the Divisional round and Indianapolis won at Denver 24-13.

With each of the four remaining playoff clubs looking to capitalize on the momentum built this past weekend in hopes of advancing to Super Bowl XLIX, they’ll have their work cut out for them on Championship Weekend.

The two contests that will decide the Super Bowl teams are rematches from this season, so there’s not that much planning involved this time around. After all, familiarity does breed contempt.

We can also assure you that both games are “Drill Worthy.” So with that, here are your marching orders. (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 55 and dates a 40-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

With the drill out of the way, we can also tell you that we went 3-1 last week, which was not bad. For the year, 160-92.

Green Bay (12-4) at Seattle (12-4), 3:05 p.m. on FOX. Sunday’s action starts in the Pacific Northwest as Green Bay travels to Seattle to face the defending Super Bowl champs at CenturyLink Field. Packers Pro Bowl QB Aaron Rodgers passed for 316 yards, three touchdowns and a 125.4 passer rating in Green Bay’s 26-21 come-from-behind victory over Dallas last week to advance to the NFC Championship Game. Wide receivers DAVANTE ADAMS (117 yards) and RANDALL COBB (116) each had at least 100 receiving yards and running back EDDIE LACY rushed for 101 yards, his team record 10th consecutive game with at least 100 scrimmage yards. It marked the first playoff game in franchise history in which the Packers had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers.

“We understand the job’s not done,” says Green Bay guard T.J. Lang. “Our expectation is to win a championship. Our goal is to go a lot deeper than the NFC Championship Game. Going up to Seattle, it’s going to be a good matchup and we’re excited about it. It’s going to be a tough one, we understand that, but we’ll be ready for the challenge.”

In the postseason, Rodgers has a 105.3 passer rating, the second-best mark in NFL history and trailing only Seattle’s Wilson among players with at least 150 attempts.

“We’re going to have to be efficient against them,” says Rodgers about playing Seattle’s vaunted defense. “They’re a great defense, they’ve got Pro Bowlers all over the place and they’re well-coached.”

The defending Super Bowl champions led Carolina and Cam Newton 14-10 at the half before outpacing the Panthers 17-7 in the final 15 minutes of play to win 31-17. Although they were out-rushed by Carolina 132-100, Russell Wilson (3 TDs) did manage to out-pass Newton (2 TDs and a pair of interceptions) 268-246 in the Saturday night affair in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. Seattle, who forced three Carolina turnovers (turning one of them into a 90-yard interception return by CB Kam Chancellor), went 7-13 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 25:57, while Carolina, who saw their playoff hopes come to an end at overcast CenturyLink Field, went 9-16 and 1-1 on third and fourth down conversions, holding the pigskin for 34:03.

“It’s going to be one for the ages,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson told USA Today, KING-TV, KIRO-TV and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“It’s exciting but the job’s not done,” says Wilson, who is 2-0 in his career against the Packers. “We’re on one mission. You just have to take it one game at a time. Our goal is to go 1-0.”

Seattle has won seven in a row, outscoring opponents 165-56. The Seahawks have been dominant in the second half of those games with a 102-20 advantage, including 62-7 in the fourth quarter. During the regular season, Seattle led the NFL in points allowed (15.9), total defense (267.1) and pass defense (185.6). The defense had two interceptions last week as Pro Bowl cornerback RICHARD SHERMAN notched his 25th career INT – the most in the NFL since he entered in 2011 – and All-Star safety KAM CHANCELLOR had a 90-yard interception-return touchdown, the longest in franchise postseason history.

“We’re playing for each other,” says Sherman. “That’s been the biggest thing. Guys are doing whatever it takes to win. Guys are playing for one another, they don’t care about stats. Championships are won in the playoffs.”

Green Bay and Seattle have met twice in post-season play and the Packers have won both contests, with the last meeting coming in 2007 at Lambeau by a final of 42-20 (the Packers’ other win came in 2003, also at Lambeau, where they needed overtime to take Seattle 33-27). They met in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks to open the season and Seattle came away with the 36-16 win at CenturyLink Field. Marshawn Lynch ran for 110 of Seattle’s 207 (Green Bay was held to 80) and Wilson threw for 191 yards and pair of TDs, while Rodgers was sacked three times and threw an interception. The Packers were 6-12 and 0-1 on third and fourth down tries in the season opener, holding the ball for 26:40, while the defending Super Bowl champs were 4-11 and 1-1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 33:20. Seattle in the first meeting was favored by 5 and won by 20 and both teams covered the 45 by combining for 52 points. Seattle’s favored again and this time the defending Super Bowl champs are a 7-point favorite and the over/under this time is 46 1/2. A lot is at stake here as the winner has a week off before they play in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, while the loser will have a lot to think about over the winter as they prepare for the draft and OTAs. Green Bay’s been lucky so far but their luck will run out in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks Sunday. Seattle may not cover the 7 but they win at home.

Indianapolis (11-5) at New England (12-4), 6:30 p.m. on CBS. They meet again and this time, it’s for all the marbles.

All the chips.

The right to go to Glendale’s at stake in Foxboro when Andrew Luck and the Colts travel to southern Massachusetts to take Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Indy reached the championship game in Foxboro after they erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit to take a 24-14 win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Mile High City. The Colts led 14-10 at the half and outscored Denver in the second half 10-3 to take the win. The contest would be the last for Broncos head coach John Fox, who stepped down from the post the next day. Neither club ran for 100 yards in the contest at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver ran for 88 yards, while Indy ran for 99) and Luck, despite throwing a pair of interceptions, threw for 265 yards and a pair of TDs in the win (Manning, who had 211 yards in the air, was sacked twice and his only TD pass in the contest came when he and WR Demaryius Thomas connected on a 1-yard pass to open the scoring in the contest. The Colts were 5-13 on third down conversions and held the ball for 34:01, while the Broncos were 4-16 and 1-2 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 25:59.

“We’re playing good team ball,” says Luck, who has guided Indianapolis to the postseason in each of his first three NFL seasons. “We’re feeding off each other. I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

The Colts’ defense limited the Broncos to 288 total net yards last week, including 200 net passing yards. During the regular season, Denver averaged 402.9 total net yards per game and 291.3 net passing yards per game.

“The defense did a heck of a job and it’s fun watching them making plays,” says Luck about the Indianapolis defense. “I know we feed off their energy and I’d like to think they feed off of us and special teams. It was truly three phases working together, but, what a great job we did defensively.”

The Colts will appear in their fourth AFC Championship Game since 2003 and have won the past two conference title games in which they’ve played. But the team knows the challenge won’t be easy winning in New England.

“The Patriots are a great, great team,” says Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagaon. “Hall of Fame coach. Hall of Fame quarterback. We all know how hard it is to win there. We know it will be a tall order but it’s going to be a great opportunity for our guys. We’ll continue to embrace this opportunity and prepare accordingly.”

New England advanced to the championship round after their 35-31 come-from-behind win over the Ravens last Saturday afternoon in Foxboro. The Patriots rallied from behind twice in the game, trailing 21-14 at halftime and then with 10:17 left to play when they trailed 31-28 and took the lead for keeps when Brady connected with WR Brandon LaFell on a 23-yard TD pass with 5:13 left to play. Baltimore would get the ball after the Patroits score and got as far as New England’s 36 yard before Joe Flacco was picked off by Trey Smith with 1:39 left to play. New England would kneeldown three times and then punt the ball back to the Ravens with 14 seconds left. Baltimore then had one final chance with four seconds left when Flacco’s last-ditch effort to take the win fell short when the pass attempt to Torry Smith was batted down by the Patriots secondary.  The victory moved Bill Belichick into a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry for the most postseason wins by a head coach with 20. This Sunday’s game will be the ninth AFC Championship for Belichick and Brady together.

“That’s what you play for,” Belichick told the Boston Globe, USA Today and the Christian Scientist Montior. “You play to win your division, you play to be in the postseason and then you play to be in the AFC Championship Game and then you see what happens after that. That’s what it’s all about. That what you work all year for, it’s to get to this point. Thankfully we’ll be playing next week. It’s great to have Tom and his ability and his poise and presence as our quarterback. Obviously he’s done a tremendous job throughout the years. There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.”

Baltimore out-rushed New England in the somewhat chilly 136-14 but Brady, who had a pair of TD passes, outpassed Flacco (four TDs) 367-292 The 367 passing yards was a new Patriots postseason record (he had 363 in 2011 in the Divisonal Playoffs against Denver). New England, who saw WR Julian Edleman toss a 51-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola, went 6-11 on third down tries, keeping the ball in frigid 20 degree weather (wind chill 6) for 27:21, while the Ravens kept the ball for 32:39 and went 1-8 and 3-3 on third and fourth down tries.

The Pats and Colts have met four times in the post-season and New England has a 3-1 lead in the series and have outscored Indy 121-77. They met last year in Foxboro and it was Brady and the Patriots coming out on top 43-22 in the AFC Divisonal Playoffs. Leading 21-12 at half, New England would go on to outscore the Colts 22-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. New England outrushed Indianapolis 231-61 (with Pats RB LeGarrette Blount accounting for 166 of those yards and four TDs), while Andrew Luck, who threw for 331 yards and a pair of TDs, was picked off four times and sacked three (Brady was not sacked or picked off in the 21-point win). New England was 11-18 and 0-1 on third and fourth down conversions in Foxboro, keeping the ball for 35 minutes, while the Colts were 6-15 and 1-1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 25 minutes.

They met in the regular season in week 11 in the Hoosier State and it was Brady and the Patriots taking the Colts to the woodshed at Lucas Oil Stadium on a Sunday night, coming out on top 42-20. New England led 14-10 at halftime before out-scoring the Colts 28-10 in the second half. The Colts were out-rushed by New England 244-19 (with New England’s Jonas Gray rushing for 199 yards and four TDs) but Luck did manage to out-pass Brady 303-257 (Both men threw a pair of TDs, with Brady throwing a pair of interceptions, while Luck threw only one pick). The Pats in the Sunday night win were 9-12 on third down conversions (New England did not have a fourth down try) and kept the ball for 34:21, while the Colts were 5-13 and 1-3 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 25:39.

In the playoff meeting in Foxboro, the Pats were 21-point winners, allowing them to cover the 7 1/2 spread and both teams easily covered the 53 1/2 over/under by scoring 65 points. New England in week 11 in Indy was a 3-point underdog on the road but covered the spread with the 22-point win and both clubs covered the 58 over/under with 62 points. This time, the Pats are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 54 1/2. The winnner goes west. Loser goes home. It’s so simple even a caveman can figure it out. Indy makes it interesting but Brady and the Pats come away with the win.

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