AFC Championship Game: What To Look For
AFC Championship Game Preview
Baltimore Ravens (12-6) at New England Patriots (13-4)
(Sunday, CBS, 6:30 PM ET)
This Sunday, the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens meet in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game when the Patriots claimed a 23-20 victory to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. This weekend's AFC Championship matchup marks the seventh time two teams have faced off in the AFL/AFC Championship in back-to-back seasons and the first time since the 1986 and 1987 seasons (Denver-Cleveland).
If the Patriots beat the Ravens, clubs who defeated the same opponent in the previous year's AFC Championship Game will improve to 6-1 all-time.
AFC Championship Game-winning teams which faced the same opponent in following year's title game:
|Seasons||Team||Opponent||Year 1 Result||Year 2 Result|
|1960-1961||Houston||L.A./San Diego Chargers||W, 24-16||W, 10-3|
|1964-1965||Buffalo||San Diego||W, 20-7||W, 23-0|
|1974-1975||Pittsburgh||Oakland||W, 24-13||W, 16-10|
|1975-1976||Pittsburgh||Oakland||W, 16-10||L, 24-7|
|1978-1979||Pittsburgh||Houston Oilers||W, 34-5||W, 27-13|
|1986-1987||Denver||Cleveland||W, 23-20 (OT)||W, 38-33|
|2011-2012||New England||Baltimore||W, 23-20||???|
For the 16th time since 1990 when the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format and the sixth time in the past seven seasons, teams that played at least once during the regular season will meet in the AFC Championship Game. On Sunday Night Football in Week 3, the Ravens kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to earn a 31-30 home victory over the Patriots.
If the Ravens defeat the Patriots, it will mark the 11th time in 16 opportunities that a team won the AFC Championship Game against a team it defeated in the regular season.
AFC Championship Games that were rematches of regular-season meetings since 1990:
|Seasons||Season Winner||Opponent||AFC Championship Game Result|
|Source: NFL *Met twice during season. Teams split; ** Met twice during season. Tennessee and Pittsburgh won both games|
|1990||Buffalo||L.A. Raiders||Buffalo, 51-3|
|1992||Buffalo/Miami *||Buffalo/Miami *||Buffalo, 29-10|
|1993||Kansas City||Buffalo||Buffalo, 30-13|
|1994||San Diego||Pittsburgh||San Diego, 17-13|
|1996||New England||Jacksonville||New England, 20-6|
|1999||Tennessee **||Jacksonville||Tennessee, 33-14|
|2003||New England||Indianapolis||New England, 24-14|
|2004||Pittsburgh||New England||New England, 41- 27|
|2006||Indianapolis||New England||Indianapolis, 38-34|
|2007||New England||San Diego||New England, 21-12|
|2008||Pittsburgh **||Baltimore||Pittsburgh, 23-14|
|2009||New York Jets||Indianapolis||Indianapolis, 30-17|
|2010||New York Jets||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh, 24-19|
Home and Away
In the Divisional Playoffs, New England (13-4, AFC No. 2 seed) defeated Houston 41-28, while Baltimore (12-6, AFC No. 4 seed) edged top-seeded Denver 38-35 in double overtime.
The Patriots have a 14-3 (.824) all-time record at home during the playoffs, the highest winning percentage in postseason history (minimum 10 games), whereas the Ravens have an 8-5 (.615) all-time road record in the postseason, the highest winning percentage in postseason history (minimum 10 games).
The teams with the highest home and highest road winning percentages all-time in the postseason (minimum 10 games):
|Best Home Winning Percentage, Postseason||Best Road Winning Percentage, Postseason|
|Team||Record||Win Pct.||Team||Record||Win Pct.|
|Green Bay||16-4||.800||New England||7-9||.438|
|Denver||13-4||.765||New York Jets||7-10||.412|
In 2012, the New England Patriots won the AFC East title for the 14th time and became the second team in NFL history to win at least 10 games in 10 consecutive seasons (San Francisco, 1983-1998, 16 consecutive seasons).
With a win against the Ravens in the AFC Championship, New England (four, 2003-present) would join the Dallas Cowboys (five, 1970-1978) as the only franchises to reach five Super Bowls in a 10-year span.
The Patriots (seven) can also tie the Dallas Cowboys (8) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8) for the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history.
Brady Bunch of Records
New England quarterback Tom Brady has thrown for 5,629 yards and 41 touchdowns in his postseason career.
If Brady passes for at least 227 yards and four touchdowns this weekend against Baltimore, he would surpass BRETT FAVRE (5,855 yards, 44 TDs) for the most postseason passing yards and tie Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA (5,772 yards, 45 TDs) for the most postseason passing TDs in NFL history.
Last week, Brady (17) surpassed Montana (16) for the most playoff wins all-time.
The quarterbacks with the most postseason passing yards and passing touchdowns in NFL history:
|Player||Postseason Passing Yards||Player||Postseason Passing TDs|
|Source: NFL *Active this weekend|
|Brett Favre||5,855||Joe Montana||45|
|Joe Montana||5,772||Brett Favre||44|
|Peyton Manning||5,679||Tom Brady*||41|
|Tom Brady*||5,629||Peyton Manning||32|
|John Elway||4,964||Dan Marino||32|
Baltimore linebacker TERRELL SUGGS posted two sacks last weekend to increase his postseason sack total to 12, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE for the third-most since the sack became an official statistic. It marked Suggs' fourth multiple-sack playoff game, tied with Pittsburgh linebacker LA MARR WOODLEY (four) for the most since 1982.
With 2.5 sacks against the Patriots, Suggs will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer BRUCE SMITH (14.5) for the second-most postseason sacks since 1982 and own the most multiple-sack games in the playoffs since the sack became an official statistic.
The players with the most postseason sacks since the stat was made official in 1982
|Player||Postseason Games||Postseason Sacks|
|Source: NFL *Active this weekend|
Reed-ing the QB
Baltimore safety ED REED has eight career playoff interceptions, including one in a Wild Card contest against New England on January 10, 2010.
With an interception this weekend, Reed would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer RONNIE LOTT, BILL SIMPSON and CHARLIE WATERS for the most postseason interceptions in league history.
Atlanta cornerback ASANTE SAMUEL (seven INTs, 227 yards), whose team hosts San Francisco in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, has the most INT-return yards in postseason history.
Head of The Class
New England head coach Bill Belichick (18-7, .720) led his team to a 41-28 win over Houston last week. With a win in the AFC Championship game, Belichick can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer DON SHULA (19) for second place on the postseason wins list and pull within one victory of the all-time leader, Pro Football Hall of Famer TOM LANDRY (20).
If the Patriots win, Belichick (five) would join Shula (six) as the only head coaches to lead their team to six Super Bowls.
Belichick has reached five Super Bowls with Tom Brady, already the most by any head coach - quarterback combination in NFL history. Three other duos have accomplished the feat four times.
The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls in league history are Don Shula (6 times); Bill Belichick (5); Tom Landry (5); while five are tied (4).
A Valuable Match-Up
This Sunday marks the second time in NFL history that a Super Bowl MVP quarterback (Tom Brady, Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXVI) and MVP linebacker (RAY LEWIS, Super Bowl XXXV) will meet in a Conference Championship Game. The only other occurrence was when the two players opposed each other in last year's AFC Championship Game.
On two previous occasions, Super Bowl offensive and defensive MVPs other than a quarterback and linebacker have met in a conference championship game or Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XIII (1979), Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY WHITE (XII) and HARVEY MARTIN (XII) of the Dallas Cowboys met Pro Football Hall of Famers FRANCO HARRIS (IX) and LYNN SWANN (X) of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the 2009 AFC Championship Game, Lewis competed against HINES WARD (XL) of the Steelers.
AFC Trophy Presentation
The Lamar Hunt Trophy will be presented to the winner of the AFC Championship Game.
The late Lamar Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and American Football League, helped professional football attain its stature as America's No. 1 sport.
In the 10-year history of the AFL, his team posted the most wins (87) and earned berths in two of the first four Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl IV.
In 1972, Hunt became the first person from the AFL to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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