Wed, 03 Mar 2021

Four score in Super Bowl pursuit

The Steelers
24 Jan 2021, 05:30 GMT+10

Mike Prisuta

The NFL's Final Four has a common characteristic this season unlike any other.

For the first time in the Super Bowl Era, all four participants in the conference championship games averaged at least 29 points per game in the regular season. Green Bay (31.8), Buffalo (31.3) and Tampa Bay (30.8) were the three highest-scoring teams in the league and Kansas City (29.5) was sixth.

Each of the remaining starting quarterbacks passed for at least 35 touchdowns in the regular season (Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers had 48, Tampa Bay's Tom Brady had 40, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes had 38 and Buffalo's Josh Allen had 37), the first time that's happened since 1970.

Whether permitting that's always a concern when the venues are Green Bay and Kansas City an offensive fireworks show may well be forthcoming on Championship Sunday.

Following is a capsule look at the NFC and AFC Championship Game matchups:

NFC: Buccaneers (13-5) at Packers (14-3), 3:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay defeated Green Bay, 38-10, on Oct. 18 at Raymond James Stadium.

Rodgers' career-high 48 touchdown passes led the NFL and tied for the fifth-most in NFL history. His 121.5 passer rating led the league and was the second-highest single-season mark in NFL history, behind Rodgers' 122.5 rating in 2011.

Green Bay's 32-18 Divisional Round victory over the Los Angeles Rams tied the Packers with the Steelers for the second-most postseason wins in NFL history (36), one behind the Patriots (37).

Running back Aaron Jones rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown, his third consecutive postseason game with a rushing TD.

Brady has the most postseason games played (43), wins (32), passing yards (11,968) and passing touchdowns (77) in NFL history. He's trying to become the fourth quarterback to start a Super Bowl for multiple teams, following Peyton Manning (Denver and Indianapolis), Craig Morton (Dallas and Denver) and Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner (Arizona and St. Louis Rams).

Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette had 107 scrimmage yards (63 rushing, 44 receiving) and a receiving touchdown in the Buccaneers' 30-20 win over the Saints in the Divisional Round, his fourth consecutive postseason game with at least 75 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White had 11 tackles, a 28-yard interception return and an 18-yard fumble return against New Orleans, his NFL playoff debut.

Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting has an interception in each of the Buccaneers' two postseason games this season.

AFC: Bills (15-3) at Chiefs (15-2), 6:40 p.m.

Kansas City beat Buffalo, 26-17, on Oct. 19 in Buffalo.

The Chiefs are the first team to host three consecutive conference championship games since the 2002-04 Philadelphia Eagles, who were also coached by Andy Reid.

Mahomes has thrown for at least one touchdown pass and rushed for at least one score in three consecutive postseason games, tied with Hall-of-Famer Steve Young for the longest such streak in NFL history. Last season Mahomes became the youngest quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP. This season he has a chance to become the youngest quarterback to start in two Super Bowls (25 years, 143 days).

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has 60 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 career playoff games (eight for 109 yards and a touchdown in Kansas City's 22-17 victory over Cleveland in the Divisional Round).

Allen completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions for an 86.1 rating in Buffalo's 17-3 Divisional Round win over Baltimore. He became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards, complete at least 70 percent of his passes and rush for 50-or-more yards in a postseason game in the Bills' 27-24 Wild Card round victory over the Colts. Allen became the first player in NFL history with at least 4,500 passing yards (4,544), 35 touchdown passes (37) and five rushing touchdowns (eight) in the regular season.

Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a team-high 106 receiving yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's victory over Baltimore. Diggs led the NFL with a career-high 1,535 receiving yards in the regular season.

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has led the Bills to the playoffs in three of his four seasons. He worked with Reid for 12 years (1999-2010) on the Eagles' staff. McDermott has coached in five conference championships and two Super Bowls as an assistant. He will be making his first conference championship appearance as a head coach.

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