As Super Bowl XVL looms on the horizon, the National Football League’s (NFL’s) version of the Final Four is set.
Coming out of divisional games this past weekend in American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) play, respectively, AFC teams punching tickets to conference title game play include the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In NFC action, the upcoming duel featuring the Green Bay Packers opposite the Chicago Bears will decide which team will be the standard bearer for the NFC in the aforementioned NFL title game, which is to be played in Arlington, Tx., at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Sun, Feb. 6.
The first game on Championship Sunday (Jan. 23) will feature a NFC rival matchup involving the Bears against the Packers. Set for Soldier Field, in the Windy City, this contest, which is to be televised nationally on FOX, is slated to kick-off at 3 p.m.
Following the Packers-Bears encounter will be the AFC showdown between the Jets and the Steelers, which is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start in the Steel City. CBS is slated to broadcast this contest via its (television) network.
To qualify for play in the AFC title tilt, Pittsburgh, facing a 14 point (7-21) deficit early in the first half, came back with stellar play in the second half and went on to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 in Pittsburgh this past Sat. (Jan. 15).
In becoming the opposition for the Steelers, in the AFC championship duel, the Jets, with a solid showing on the field, upended the favored New England Patriots by 7 (28-21) Sun. (1/16), in Foxboro, Mass.
On the NFC side, the Bears got to the big contest, for all of the marbles, by spanking the Seattle Seahawks 35-24 Sun., in Chicago.
And Sat. night, in Atlanta, the Aaron Rogers-led Packers made their run to the NFC title game by trouncing the homestanding Atlanta Falcons 48-21. In leading the visiting Packers to their huge road win, Rogers connected on 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three TD’s. He also ran for a six-pointer.
To get things started on Championship Sunday, the clash between Green Bay and Chicago is expected to showcase teams with different styles of play.
While the Packers are expected to operate from their usual spread formation, with the passing game utilized a lot, the Bears are regarded as a team to be a little more conservative on the offensive side of the ball, which features more action via the overland route
With the Jets and Steelers, witnesses to this action are likely to see a very focused New York team that will try to mix it up offensively versus a Pittsburgh squad that will come at you hard on both sides of the ball for the full 60 minutes of play.
However, no matter how teams in the Final Four have been identified up to this point in the playoffs, defense and how each team play on that side of the ball will more likely than not be the difference in which squads in the respective conference championship battles will move on to compete for the NFL title in Super Bowl XVL.
And to be sure, the respective clashes in each conference championship game have the chance to be exciting preludes to upcoming Super Sunday, which will climax another interesting season in NFL action.