Sunday, 3:00 PM (ET) New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Some basic facts: The Patriots (the white team) will face the Broncos (the orange team) in a rematch from Week 12, when New England erased a 24-point deficit to force and win in overtime 34-31. The subplot to this game is just as delicious, as it will be the 15th time quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face each other. Despite each signal caller’s storied careers, Brady has had the edge in most match-ups, winning 10 of 14 times. If you’re a Broncos fan, you may want to stay in the basement with the Bud Light, and if you’re a Pats fan, you may just want to invite Ramsey over again. But that’s only if you’re superstitious.
Injuries: Both teams will push on without huge star players — tight end (read: large guy that both catches the ball and blocks) Rob Gronkowski and linebacker (read: guy who helps stop runs) Brandon Spikes are out for the Patriots while linebacker Von Miller and cornerback (read: dude who tries to disrupt pass catches) Chris Harris are out for the Broncos. This makes Sunday’s matchup much different than the one from late November.
Michael Hoomanawanui: A tight end for the Patriots that is back from an injury sustained from the middle of the season. Sometimes you just wonder how they fit so many letters on the back of a jersey.
Papa John’s Pizza: Give the company some credit. Of any season to pick a star football player as their spokesman, they got Peyton Manning, who broke Tom Brady’s touchdown record (55 this season), and Drew Brees’ passing yards record (5,477 yards this season) in back-to-back games.
Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgeable: “A fumble-free game from LeGarrette Blount could be dangerous to Denver, who only saw him carry the ball twice before he was benched (for fumbling).”
Sunday, 6:30 PM (ET) San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Some basic facts: The 49ers (the white and red team) faced the Seahawks (the dark blue team) twice this season, winning a close one at home and suffering a brutal loss in Seattle. These teams are not only two of the healthier ones left at this time of the year, but they are the most physical. With aggressive defenses and chameleon-like offenses, this should be one of the more entertaining NFC Championships to date.
The Legion of Boom: Vaunted defenses have always been given creative nicknames. The Fearsome Foursome, The Crunch Bunch, Purple People Eaters, Blitzburgh, and the New York Sack Exchange all bring back fond memories of bone-crushing hits, but this nickname for the Seahawks secondary is a big frontrunner for my favorite of all time. Watch the hits those guys put on receivers as the game progresses.
Captain Comeback: 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh’s nickname when he was quarterback for the Colts and brought them back from the hands of defeat numerous times en route to the 1995 AFC Championship game. He is the first head coach in history to lead his team to the divisional title game in each of his first three seasons. His team may need his storied resolve if they fall behind too much too early in the game.
Concussion Protocol: One Percy Harvin acquisition was the story of the NFL this offseason. His speed was going to make the Seahawks receiving corps truly formidable. Then he went down for most of the year. He returned for a playoff run last Sunday, and then two more vicious hits sidelined him with a concussion. He did not practice Wednesday and his availability is uncertain.
Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgeable: “The toughness matchup between San Fran’s Anquan Boldin and the Legion of Boom has me swooning more than a Justin Bieber fan girl.”