AFC/NFC Championship Game Notes
The NFL has become more of an addiction than a sport and this season is increasing the addiction. We NEED more football because it keeps getting better and better. Case in point are the addiction building AFC and NFC Championship games this weekend.
The Championship games are storylines from movies; prolific offense vs. stingy defense, or old foes renewing a storied rivalry.
When the Patriots host the Ravens on Sunday, four top shelf caliber players who represent the highest levels of achievement will be on each side of the ball; Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
To get their fourth league championship under coach Bill Belichick and with Brady at quarterback, they’ll need to have their offense in high gear, which it has been nearly all season. The Patriots scored at least 27 points in all but three games and averaged 32.8, including last week’s 45-10 rout of Denver, their ninth straight victory.
However, New England didn’t beat an opponent that finished with a winning record, and lost to its two most difficult foes, Pittsburgh and the Giants.
If Brady isn’t at his best, it will be because of Lewis, Reed and that staunch Baltimore D. The Ravens are as physical as anyone, and one thing that historically has slowed Brady has been when a defense gets in his face, disrupts his rhythm — and hits him. Though this season Brady has a QB rating of over 125 this season when defenses blitz.
The other championship affair Sunday is at Candlestick Park, where the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have played some memorable games, regular season and postseason. Despite the geographic separation, these franchises have quite a history with each other.
The 11 guys on each side of the ball at Candlestick Park for the NFC championship game will carry on a tradition of notable meetings that dates back to when the 49ers (14-3) and Giants (11-7) were dominating the conference in the 1980s. Their only faceoff in the title game was in January 1991, when New York kicked five field goals for a 15-13 victory, preventing San Francisco from going after a third straight Super Bowl trophy.
While it’s fun to conjure up memories of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Lawrence Taylor and Matt Bahr, this year’s participants are more concerned with adding to a winning legacy. This is the 49ers’ first playoff appearance since the 2002 season, when they won a wild 39-38 wild-card game against the Giants. New York, of course, won it all four years ago. This game means the world to the Bay area and we expect that crowd to go bonkers all game long.