Well, we're halfway to determining the conference championship match-ups, and we'll be able to fill in the other half of both of those equations by the time most of us are getting ready for supper.
Today, the NFC gets to go first. At noon Central time, FOX will give us an NFC Divisional match-up between the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons are looking for respect, having been bounced in their first playoff game in each of the past two seasons, and quarterback Matt Ryan carrying an 0-3 career post-season record. The Falcons got the top seed for a reason. . .they're really good. . .but their defense has had their issues at times. The Seahawks come into this one as one of the NFL's hottest teams, having dispatched the Washington Redskins last week after falling behind 14-0. They've been playing as well as any team in the league over the past couple of months, and rookie Russell Wilson has really been turning a lot of heads.
The San Francisco 49ers await the winner of this one (awesome). If the Falcons win, they will host the Niners in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome next weekend. If Seattle wins, the NFC Championship will be determined at Candlestick Park in the third meeting between NFC West Division rivals Seattle and San Francisco.
From there, we'll move on to Foxborough for the late game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans. These two teams met just a few weeks ago, and New England throttled Houston to the tune of 42-14 on the same field. The Texans sort of stumbled into the playoffs, squandering the #1 overall seed in the AFC over the last four weeks of the season, but looked pretty good against the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card round last week. The Patriots. . .well, they're the Patriots. Their offense is explosive with Tom Brady at the controls and tight end Rob Gronkowski returning to the lineup this afternoon after missing some time with a broken arm. Kickoff on this one will be at 3:30 PM Central time on CBS.
The winner of this one, regardless of who it is, will host the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday for the AFC Championship. The Ravens are the lowest remaining seed in the AFC, and after their upset of the top-seeded Denver Broncos yesterday, will be traveling to whichever team wins this game to see who will go to Super Bowl XLVII.
Here's everything you need to know about today's match-ups. There's a preview video, too. . .but it goes over all four of the games, so you can skip over the first part of it.