Ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost finally here — championship weekend in the NFL! After what can only be described as a thrilling divisional round weekend that followed a Wild-card weekend featuring two games that went to overtime, this Sunday’s pair of games feature no teams who made the Super Bowl last season. That’s right — no matter what we’ll have a new Super Bowl champion.
For those of you who were hoping to see a quarterback not named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger represent the AFC for the first time since 2003, you’re in luck as well! No matter what, we’ll get a new quarterback. In one corner is Ryan Tannehill — your cinderella story — the 11/12 seed that goes on a run in March Madness (in a world where individual players could be compared to college basketball teams). In the other, you’ve got the favorite, last year’s MVP Patrick Mahomes. A dislocated knee cap couldn’t slow Mahomes down during the regular season, but a Titans defense coming together at the right time might be the answer.
The AFC Championship is a rematch of a Week 10 game in Nashville that the Titans won 35-32.
In the NFC, the 49ers are headed to the NFC Championship game for the first time in seven years after a dominating 27-10 win over the Vikings. After a tight first half that ended with San Francisco leading just 14-10, the 49ers ran away with the game in the second half behind a shutdown performance from their defense, which held the Vikings to just 147 yards of offense. The 49ers also came up big on the ground as they out-rushed the Vikings, 186-21.
The win by the 49ers means they’ll be hosting the NFC title game for just the second time in 21 years. Although they went to three straight NFC Championships between 2011 and 2013, the only one that was actually played at home came in 2011.