The Final Four of the NFL for the 2013 season is set, with the AFC presenting the Manning-Brady rivalry once again for the conference championship in a rematch between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, while the NFC has two teams from the same conference, which is going to be the third game this season between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.
It’ll be the first conference championship between Brady and Manning since the 2006 NFL season, when the Colts won on their way to a Super Bowl win. The Seahawks and 49ers game is between division rivals for the first time since the 2010 NFL season, when the Packers played the Bears.
The Conference Championship Sunday will begin with the Patriots playing the Broncos in Denver (3 PM ET), followed by the 49ers playing the Seahawks in Seattle (6:30 PM ET).
Denver Broncos – The Broncos finished with the #1 seed in the AFC at 13-3, winning the AFC West for a second consecutive season. After the bye week they played and beat the San Diego Chargers 24-17, avenging their loss to the Chargers a month earlier in the regular season. The Broncos haven’t been to the conference championship since the 2005 season, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. The Broncos finished the season as the number one passing team in the NFL with 340.3 yards per game, but they’ve also allowed 254.4 passing yards per game, 27th in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks finished with the #1 seed in the NFC at 13-3, winning the NFC West for the first time since 2010. They got a bye week to start the playoffs with, followed by playing the New Orleans Saints for a second time this season. It was a bit rougher in the second meet, but the Seahawks still came away with a 23-15 win after another impressive defensive performance. They’ve last been to the conference championship in the 2005 season, when they made it all the way to the Super Bowl, losing to the Steelers. That year was also the last time they finished 13-3. They’re the number one defensive team in the NFL, allowing only 273.6 yards per game.
San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers finished the season at 12-4, making it a third consecutive season with at least 11 wins. They got by the Green Bay Packers on the road in the Wild Card playoffs with a 23-20 win and a game winning field goal kick. They were more dominant in the Divisional playoffs, beating the Carolina Panthers (also on the road) 23-10. It will be the third consecutive NFC championship game for them under Harbaugh, losing the first time to the Giants and winning last year, moving on to the Super Bowl before losing to the Ravens. The Niners were third in the NFL with 137.6 rushing yards per game and their defense allowed only 316.9 yards a contest.
New England Patriots – The Patriots finished with a 12-4 record, winning the AFC East for a fifth consecutive time, earning them a first week bye. They beat the Indianapolis Colts to reach the conference championship game for a third consecutive season. Both of the previous ones were against the Ravens – winning the first (and losing in the Super Bowl) and then losing the second to the same Ravens. They’ll be playing on the road in the conference championship game for the first time since 2006, when they lost 38-34 to the Colts. The Patriots aren’t great in stopping teams from plowing forward (allowing 134.1 rushing yards per game, 30th in the NFL) but are a top 10 team in both passing yards and rushing.