By Dean Michaels

AFC championship game in which Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will go head to head for the 15th time

The NFC Championship Game has featured close games in each of the past six seasons, including three overtime games.

There have been six consecutive NFC Championship Games that were decided by seven points or fewer, the longest streak in conference championship game history.

The NFC's No. 5 seed San Francisco (14-4) will travel this Sunday to play No. 1 seed Seattle (14-3). The Seahawks had eight games this season that finished within seven points or fewer, while San Francisco had five such games.

The past six NFC Championship Games to finish within seven points or fewer:

Season Teams Winner Final Score
Source: NFL *Overtime
2007N.Y. Giants at Green BayN.Y. Giants23-20*
2008Philadelphia at ArizonaArizona32-25
2009Minnesota at New OrleansNew Orleans31-28*
2010Green Bay at ChicagoGreen Bay21-14
2011N.Y. Giants at San FranciscoN.Y. Giants20-17*
2012San Francisco at AtlantaSan Francisco28-24
2013San Francisco at Seattle??????


Patriot Way

In 2013, New England won the AFC East title for the 15th time and has advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the ninth time. The Patriots are 7-2 (.778) in AFC Championship Games all-time.

With a win against Denver on Sunday, New England (seven) can tie Dallas (eight) and Pittsburgh (eight) for the most Super Bowl berths in NFL history.

If Denver defeats New England and San Francisco defeats Seattle, the Broncos (six) and 49ers (six) would tie New England for the third-most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history.

The NFL teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:

Team Super Bowl
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
Dallas Cowboys8
Pittsburgh Steelers8
New England Patriots*7
Denver Broncos*6
San Francisco 49ers*6


Playoff Success

The San Francisco 49ers have 30 postseason victories, tied for the third-most all-time.

With a win Sunday against Seattle, the 49ers can take sole possession of third on all-time postseason wins list, trailing Dallas and Pittsburgh (33).

The teams with the most playoff victories in NFL history:

Team Playoff Wins
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
Dallas Cowboys33
Pittsburgh Steelers33
San Francisco 49ers*30
Green Bay Packers30
New England Patriots*25
Oakland Raiders25


Team Leader

Denver Broncos head coach John Fox is in his third season with the franchise and has led the team to three consecutive division titles for the first time in club history. Sunday will mark Fox's third conference championship game (Carolina 2003, 2005) as a head coach and the Broncos first since 2005.

With a win on Sunday against the Patriots, Fox will become just the sixth coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl.

The head coaches to lead multiple franchises to the Super Bowl:

Head Coach Team Super Bowl(s) Team Super Bowl(s)
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
Don ShulaBaltimore ColtsIIIMiamiVI, VII, VIII, XVII, XIX
Bill ParcellsNY GiantsXXI, XXVNew EnglandXXXI
Dan ReevesDenverXXI, XXII, XXIVAtlantaXXXIII
Dick VermeilPhiladelphiaXVSt. LouisXXXIV
Mike HolmgrenGreen BayXXXI, XXXIISeattleXL
John Fox*CarolinaXXXVIIIDenver???


Head of the Class

New England head coach Bill Belichick (19-7, .731) led his team to a 43-22 win over Indianapolis last week.

With a win in the AFC Championship Game, Belichick (five) would join Shula (six) as the only head coaches to lead their team(s) to six Super Bowls.

Belichick has reached five Super Bowls with Brady, already the most by any head coach-quarterback combination in NFL history.

The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls in NFL History:

Head Coach Super Bowl
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
Don Shula6
Bill Belichick*5
Tom Landry5
Five tied4


Passing Legends

In 2013, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning led the league in passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55), with both marks setting NFL single-season records.

With a win on Sunday, Manning will become the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to lead the league in passing yards and TDs and also advance to the Super Bowl that season. Manning would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (1984), Kurt Warner (2001) and Tom Brady (2007) as the only QBs to accomplish the feat.

The quarterbacks to advance to the Super Bowl after leading the league in passing yards and touchdown passes in the Super Bowl era:

Season Quarterback Team Yards TDs Super Bowl Result
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
2007Tom BradyPatriots4,80650XLIIGiants 17, Patriots 14
2001Kurt WarnerRams4,83036XXXVIPatriots 20, Rams 17
1984Dan MarinoDolphins5,08448XIX49ers 38, Dolphins 16
2013Peyton Manning*Broncos5,47755??????


Super Tom

New England quarterback Tom Brady leads the Patriots to Denver for the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. Brady has a 5-2 career record in AFC Championship Games and is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (five) for most conference championship wins all-time.

With a win on Sunday, Brady would surpass John Elway for the most conference championship wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

A victory on Sunday would send Brady to his sixth Super Bowl, the most by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

The starting quarterbacks with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history:

Quarterback Super Bowl
Super Bowl Record
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Tom Brady*53-2
John Elway^52-3
Terry Bradshaw^44-0
Joe Montana ^44-0
Roger Staubach^42-2
Jim Kelly^40-4


Sack Attack

San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks has 4.5 sacks in the 2013 postseason.

Since sacks were made an official statistic in 1982, no player has recorded more than six sacks in a single postseason.

With two sacks on Sunday against Seattle, Brooks would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer RICHARD DENT, MICHAEL MC CRARY and LA MARR WOODLEY (six) for the most sacks in a single postseason since 1982.

The players with the most sacks in a single postseason since the statistic was made official in 1982:

Player Team Sacks Season
Source: NFL *Active Sunday
Richard DentChicago61985
Michael McCraryBaltimore62000
LaMarr WoodleyPittsburgh62008
Willie McGinestNew England52003
Terrell SuggsBaltimore52010
Tony TolbertDallas51995
Ahmad Brooks*San Francisco4.52013


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