NFC: Atlanta Falcons vs Green Bay Packers
The NFC Championship will feature two of the hottest quarterbacks in the league: the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Each team is also lead by an offense with key skill players such as Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones and Packers’ running back Ty Montgomery. However, even with these great players, key match-ups will decide the outcome of the game for each team.
Keys for the Falcons:
- Receiving corps vs The Packers’ depleted secondary- The Falcons will have to exploit the holes in the Packers’ secondary. Other receivers such as Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu need to take pressure off of Julio Jones.
- Vic Beasley vs the Packers’ offensive line- Vic Beasley, who led the Falcons with15.5 sacks, will have to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers if the Falcons want any chance of slowing Rodgers down.
- Rodgers vs the Falcons’ young secondary- Aaron Rodgers will need to take advantage of the Falcons young, and at times, overly aggressive secondary on Sunday if the Packers want to continue their march toward Super Bowl 51.
- Front seven vs Falcons’ running backs- the Packers will have their hands full with the Falcons’ running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. For the Packers, their first priority needs to be stopping the Falcons’ run game and force them to become a one-dimensional team.
AFC: New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The AFC Championship will pit two veterans against each other: New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. The defenses for each will be on display, with the Patriots’ opportunistic approach and the Steelers’ hard-hitting mentality. There will, however, be key matchups on both sides that will inevitably decide Sunday’s game.
- Ball-hawk defense vs The Steelers offense- Coming into Sunday’s matchup, the Patriots have forced 26 turnovers throughout the year. For them, turnovers are key in slowing down the Steelers’ potent offense.
- Receiving corps vs Steelers’ defense- On Sunday, the Patriots receiving corps will need to be in sync with Tom Brady while also finding holes in the Steelers defense if they want to keep pace with the Steelers offense.
- Defensive line vs Brady- Pressuring Brady has to be the key focus for the Steelers if they want to minimize the four-time Super Bowl champion’s damage.
- Skill players vs Patriots defense- Players such as wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell will need to win their one-on-one battles for the Steelers to win. If Brown and Bell can play like they did in their Wild Card game against the Dolphins, then the Patriots may be in trouble.