Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Championship Sunday notes/oddities

By Rick Morris

^ New England is in the AFC Championship Game for the fifth consecutive year.  Only the 1973-77 Raiders can match that stretch.  Interestingly, Oakland also had a four-year run from 1967-70 that ALSO only resulted in one Super Bowl berth – so the Silver and Black went 2-7 in a nine-year stretch on Championship Sunday!  Whatever happens with the Patriots on Sunday will still place them well ahead of that dismal mark in the history books.  Their five-in-a-row stretch comes after a three-year break from 2008-10 that was itself preceded by a five-times-in-seven-years run from 2001-07.

^ The last five AFC Championship Games have been hosted by either Denver or New England.  This is an unprecedented run in either conference going back to the AFL/NFL merger of 1970.

^ If New England wins, they push past Pittsburgh for most AFC Championships ever with nine.  If Denver wins, they join New England and Pittsburgh in a three-way tie with eight.

^ This is the first time that two teams have met in the AFC Championship Game for the second time (but non-consecutive) in a three-year interval since the Broncos and the Browns during the 1987 and 1989 seasons.  It hasn’t happened in the NFC since the Vikings and Rams met to end the 1974 and 1976 conference seasons.

^ The Panthers will be trying to do what no team has done since the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles: be an Eastern Time Zone team that wins the NFC Championship on their home turf.  The Giants won twice on the road during this time period (the 2007 and 2011 seasons), while Atlanta ended the 2012 NFC season with a loss at home.

^ Both Carolina (2003 season) and Arizona (2009 season) upended Philadelphia to win the NFC Championship in those seasons – their ONLY previous NFC Championships.

^ This century has been more top-heavy in the AFC than in the NFC when it comes to playing on Championship Sunday.  Of the 32 berths available in the 16 seasons since 2000, they have gone to nine teams in the AFC.  Out of the 32 berths available in the NFC, they have gone to 13 teams.  The difference is pretty stark in terms of conference champions during that time span: six different winners in the AFC, with 11 in the NFC.

^ If New England and Carolina win, they’ll join Miami-Washington, Dallas-Buffalo, Dallas-Buffalo, New York Giants-New England and San Francisco-Cincinnati as the only Super Bowl rematches in history.

^ If Arizona wins, it will keep the NFC Championship in the West for the fourth consecutive year (following the last two going to Seattle and the previous one going to San Francisco).  One division has not had four consecutive NFC Championships since the East held them from 1990-93 (first the Giants, then the Redskins, then the last two to the Cowboys).

^ New England is an actual road favorite and Carolina is only a nominal home favorite.  So how common is the sweep by road teams?  Baltimore and San Francisco did it during the 2012 season, but you’ve got to go back to the 1997 season with Denver and Green Bay to find the last previous example.  And that’s the ONLY other example!

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