01/18/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
We're down to the final four in the NFL. Call it championship weekend, but in reality this is a rematch of games that already took place this season, with the outcome in favor of Seattle and New England, which is most likely the matchup fans and the NFL want out of these particular championship games.
Four division winners will do battle in these conference championship matchups with a Super Bowl birth on the line. Lets preview the AFC and NFC title games.
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: GREEN BAY AT SEATTLE
This is a rematch of the season opener between these teams. Both come in with 13 and 4 records, with the Seahawks the NFC West champions and the Packers the NFC Central champ. Green Bay boasts the top scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 30.4 points per game. They'll face the top scoring defense in the league in Seattle, who gives up an average of 15.9 points against. In the first meeting between these teams this season in Seattle, the Seahawks rolled the Packers 36 to 16. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and scored 2 touchdowns in that game, while Russell Wilson passed for 191 yards and threw 2 TD passes. The Seahawks defense held the Packers in check as well. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 189 yards, was sacked 3 times, fumbled once, and threw an interception. Eddie Lacy was held to 34 yards rushing as well, as Seattle outgained Green Bay 398 to 255 in total yards. Seattle will have to try and shut down Rodgers again, who's passed for 4,381 yards and thrown 38 touchdowns versus just 5 interceptions. His top targets have been Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Nelson has caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Cobb has 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 TD's. On the ground, Lacy has rushed for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns. Seattle's offense is led by Lynch, who's rushed for 1,306 yards and scored 13 TD's. Wilson has thrown for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 849 yards and scored 6 TD's on the ground. The biggest factor in this game may be if Rodgers, with an injured calf, can hold up against the Seahawks defense. Green Bay is 4 and 4 on the road this season, while Seattle is 8 and 1 at home. The Seahawks have won 25 of their past 27 home games as well. Seattle is looking to become the first team since New England in 2003 and 2004 to reach back to back Super Bowls.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: INDIANAPOLIS AT NEW ENGLAND
This is another rematch from earlier this season. The 13 and 4 Patriots are the #1 seed in the AFC and the champions of the AFC East. The 13 and 5 Colts won the AFC South, and as the fourth seed will be playing their 3rd playoff game. In the first meeting of the season at Indianapolis, the Patriots cruised to a 42 to 20 win. The Patriots racked up 503 total yards in that game, and outrushed the Colts 246 yards to 19. Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and scored 4 touchdowns for the Pats. Tom Brady passed for 257 yards and threw 2 TD's, but was also intercepted twice. Andrew Luck threw for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss. TE Coby Fleener caught 7 passes for 144 yards for the Colts. Luck leads the way for the Colts, passing for 4,761 yards and 40 TD's. T.Y. Hilton is his top target with 82 catches for 1,345 yards and 7 touchdowns. New England is led by Brady, who passed for 4,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski has 82 catches for 1,345 yards and 12 TD's, and Julian Edelman led the team in receptions with 92 for 972 yards and 4 TD's. These teams met in the playoffs last year as well, and it was another Patriots rout. The Colts were beaten 43 to 22, as New England rushed for 234 yards and scored 6 rushing touchdowns. The Colts defeated Cincinnati at home in the Wild Card round, then went on the road to defeat #2 seed Denver last week. The Patriots came back twice from 14 point deficits to defeat Baltimore at home last week. The Colts will be without their leading rusher, Trent Richardson, who is out with an injury. The Patriots are 8 and 1 at home, while the Colts are 6 and 3 on the road. New England has won the past 5 meetings between these teams.
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