After a wild divisional round weekend that gave us two upsets, aand a , the field is finally set for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
When Championship Sunday kicks off Jan. 21, you're going to notice one familiar face and three party crashers. Of the four teams left, the Patriots are the only team that has won a Super Bowl. The Jaguars have never even been to the Super Bowl, while the Eagles (0-2) and Vikings (0-4) are winless in their six combined trips.
Here's a look at the NFL playoff bracket as we head into the third week of the postseason.
Seeing that the Patriots have advanced this far is probably starting to feel like déjà vu for most people.
After destroying the Titans 35-14 on Saturday, the Patriots will now be playing in the AFC title game for the seventh straight season. Although there was some thought that Father Time might finally get the best of Tom Brady this year, that didn't happen. At 40 years old, Brady will be gunning to earn a trip to the Super Bowl for the eighth time in his career and for the third time in four years.
Although the Patriots get mentioned a lot when we talk about the Super Bowl, one team that almost never comes up is the Jaguars and there's a good reason for that. The Jags have never made it to the Super Bowl and this week's game will mark only the third time in franchise history that they've even played in an AFC title game.
Of course, just because they're inexperienced in the postseason doesn't mean we should write them of. Just ask the Steelers, who lost to a wild 45-42 shootout to Jacksonville on Sunday.
If there's one team in the AFC that could conceivably slow down the Patriots, it's the Jags. The best way to slow Brady down is to beat him up and that's exactly what the Jaguars are good at. During the regular season, the Jags finished second in the NFL in sacks with 55.
The Jaguars-Patriots game will be a rematch of the title game that took place in January 1997. Twenty-one years ago, the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XXXI after beating the Jags 20-6.
On the NFC side, the Eagles are headed to the conference title game for the seventh time in franchise history, thanks to a defense that completely shut down the Falcons on Saturday in a 15-10 win. If Nick Foles was supposed to struggle against Atlanta, he apparently didn't get the memo because he threw for 246 yards in the win.
The Eagles will be gunning to get to the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history and to do that, they're going to have to beat the Vikings, who are coming off one of the wildest wins in NFL playoff history after Case Keenum threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on the final play of Minnesota's 29-24 win over the Saints.
Although the NFC title game will be played in Philadelphia, there will be a lot of eyes on Minnesota this week, and that's mainly because Super Bowl LII is being played in Minneapolis.
If the Vikings beat the Eagles on Sunday, they'll become the first team in NFL history play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Vikings are playing in a conference title game for the 10th time in franchise history, but just the first time since 2009.
Finally, if you need proof that defense does actually win championships, we'll leave you with this final stat. All four teams remaining in the postseason ranked in the top-five in scoring defense during the 2017 season.
This is the first time since the 1970 merger that all 4 teams in the conference championship games had a Top 5 scoring defense that season@Vikings: 15.8 PPG allowed (1st)@Jaguars: 16.8 PPG allowed (2nd)@Eagles: 18.4 PPG allowed (4th)@Patriots: 18.5 PPG allowed (5th)— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 15, 2018
Although we saw a shootout in Pittsburgh on Sunday, don't be surprised if Championship Sunday turns into one giant slugfest.
The AFC Championship Game kicks off at 3:05 p.m. ET and will be televised by CBS. The NFC Championship Game will kick off at 6:40 p.m. ET and air on Fox.
The winners from Sunday will meet in Super Bowl LII, which is scheduled for Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.