NFL Championship Sunday is going down this weekend, a day that is known for both bliss and sorrow. Jubilation in that we get a double shot of title games to watch, but also a bit of sadness because of the fact that football season is nearing its end. If only I were capable of crying….
On to the matchups!!
NFC Title: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 3PM Eastern
History Lesson: The Bears are hoping to repeat these two teams’ only playoff meeting, which went down in 1941. Chicago won that one 33-14 to move on the NFL Championship. The teams have met 180 other times, but never again in the playoffs… Before this year, Chicago hadn’t been to the playoffs since their Super Bowl season in 2006… Green Bay has been in the playoffs three of the last five seasons.
First (and second) Time Around: The two teams split their season series, with Chicago taking the first stanza in week three by the tune of 20-17. A 19-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with four seconds left gave the Bears the victory, as they were helped by 18 Green Bay penalties. A late fumble by Packers’ WR James Jones gave Chicago the ball back and allowed them to get in position for the game-winner.
Chicago had a chance to keep Green Bay home for the playoffs in week 17, but the Pack D sacked Jay Cutler six times in a 10-3 Green Bay victory. An Aaron Rodgers TD pass with just under 13 minutes to go gave the Packers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Random Tidbits: Green Bay is the only community-owned franchise in professional sports, which may be why the team has never left the city of Green Bay despite its population being just a tick over 100,000. This community ownership is actually a violation of NFL ownership rules, but the franchise was grandfathered in after this rule was put into effect… The Chicago Bears team colors were adopted by owner George Halas in honor of his college alma mater, the University of Illinois.
AFC Title: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers
History Lesson: Pittsburgh will be playing in their fourth AFC title game in seven years, and has also won more Super Bowls (6) in their history than any other franchise… The Jets haven’t been to the Super Bowl since their upset over the Baltimore Colts 42 years ago, when ‘Broadway Joe’ guaranteed victory. This was the second coolest act Namath has performed, ranking a close second to his national TV advances towards ESPN’s Suzy Kolber.
First Time Around: The Jets’ Brad Smith ran back the opening kickoff 97 yards for a TD as New York downed Pittsburgh 22-17 in week 15 at Heinz Field. Big Ben drove the Steelers into the red zone with under two minutes left in the game, but the Jets D stiffened (huh, huh, I said stiffened) to give NY the victory. It should be noted, however, that Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller were both out with injuries.
Random Tidbits: Pittsburgh is the only team to put its logo on just one side of its helmet, a practice that was started by the team’s equipment staff to try out a new helmet design. It went over so well the team never bothered with putting it on the other side… New York’s honorary captain on Sunday will be Dennis Byrd, a former Jets’ DT who was temporarily paralyzed after breaking a vertebrae during a game in 1992.
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