And then there were four. And my, what a four we have left!
If you just take a quick looksie back at the brackets the way they've panned out in the playoffs, it's hard to say that we have anything less than an incredibly deserving AFC Championship Game and NFC Championship Game.
We'll start in the AFC, where the best team in the NFL, the New England Patriots are giving 6-points in their NFL-best sixth straight conference championship game appearance. They've had mixed results in these games, and it wouldn't be all that shocking if they ultimately were beaten in this one by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
These two teams met back in October, a 27-16 victory for the Pats at Heinz Field. However, it's worth remembering that at that point, Ben Roethlisberger was out of the fold for the Steelers, leaving Landry Jones to basically fend for himself against a very underrated defense.
The NFC Championship Game has already made some history before ever kicking off. The Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers have been playing absolutely amazing offensive football of late, and with both teams exceeding the 30-point plateau in each of their playoff games this year, it shouldn't be surprising that the over/under is high for this one. But to see a 60 on the board is legitimately unprecedented, as it's the highest total in NFL playoff history.
The Falcons opened up at -6 in this one and quickly fell to -4 where they essentially opened at when lines became mainstream. It's not a tremendously stark contrast from the fact that they were lined at -3 when these teams met back in October, though obviously, the total is a heck of a lot higher from the 51 that we saw on the eve of Halloween. The Dirty Birds won 33-32, coming from behind on three separate instances to win the game in spite of the fact that they didn't end up covering.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Dome - 3:05 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Falcons -4, O/U 60
Preview: There are only three guarantees in life. Death, taxes, and the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers are going to put up a whole heck of a lot of points. Just how many points are they expected to put up when they get on the field together in the NFC Championship Game? The total of 60 is the highest for a playoff game in the history of the NFL. Can either really slow down the other? Continue...
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium - 6:40 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Patriots -6, O/U 50.5
Preview: As good as both of these teams have been over the last decade, it’s hard to imagine this being only the second time they’ve met in the playoffs dating back to 2005. That will all change in the 2017 AFC Championship game when Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers invade Foxborough looking to hand Tom Brady and the New England Patriots their first home playoff defeat since 2013 when the Ravens went into Gillette and shocked the world as touchdown underdogs. Continue...
New England Patriots -245
Pittsburgh Steelers +205
Atlanta Falcons -190
Green Bay Packers +165
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The tournament brackets are made up of six teams from each of the league's two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC):
The four division champions from each conference (the team in each division with the best regular season won-lost-tied record), which are seeded 1 through 4 based on their regular season won-lost-tied record. Two wild card qualifiers (those non-division champions with the conference's best won-lost-tied percentages), which are seeded 5 and 6.
The 3 and the 6 seeded teams, and the 4 and the 5 seeds, face each other during the first round of the playoffs, dubbed the Wild Card Playoffs.
The 1 and the 2 seeds from each conference receive a bye in the first round, which entitles these teams to automatically advance to the second round, the Divisional Playoff games, to face the Wild Card survivors. Continue
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