The NFL season is reaching its climax with the conference championship games this weekend. When the day is over, we’ll know which two teams will fight to lift the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 51. These games figure to be well-contested battles between some of the best quarterbacks in the league.
The first game of the day promises to be a complete fireworks show. The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons both sport high-flying offenses and weak defenses, led by MVP candidate quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan) at the top of their games.
Rodgers has been on fire, leading the Packers back from the brink at 4-6 to clinch the NFC North title. The Packers then ran through the NFC East contenders, destroying the New York Giants in the Wild Card round then stunning the Dallas Cowboys one week later. Rodgers played literal backyard football in crunch time, drawing up a play on the fly and hitting Jared Cook with an incredible sideline pass to set up the game-winning field goal.
The Falcons are back in the playoffs thanks to a brilliant season from Ryan, who set career highs in passing yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38) while leading the league in passer rating (117.1). He made it look easy against the Seattle Seahawks in a 36-20 win last week, and Ryan should keep his rhythm going against a Packers defense that’s struggled with injuries all year. This could easily be the highest-scoring game of the playoffs.
How to watch Packers vs. Falcons in NFC Championship
Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Place: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers
Online: Fox Sports Go
The second game on Sunday’s schedule features a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, with Tom Brady set to face off against Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are red-hot, having won seven straight games to close out the regular season.
They had little trouble putting away the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round, and despite failing to score a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, the defense stepped up big in an 18-16 win in the Divisional round.
Le’Veon Bell is carrying the offense on his shoulders, rushing for a combined 337 yards in the playoffs. Roethlisberger hasn’t been totally sharp, but with Bell and Antonio Brown terrorizing opposing defenses, he hasn’t had to play his best.
The Patriots cruised to another AFC East title and are in the conference championship game for the sixth year in a row. That’s the standard of excellence we’ve come to expect from Brady and Bill Belichick, who are looking for their seventh Super Bowl appearance together.
Brady had a rough time with the Houston Texans in the Divisional round, but three touchdowns by Dion Lewis was more than enough to send Houston home.
How to watch Steelers vs. Patriots in AFC Championship
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET
Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely
Online: CBS All-Access