Everything to Know About AFC and NFC Title Games

tim-kelly
January 12, 2020 - 9:18 pm

2020 Conference Championship Week may be the clearest indication yet that we're seeing a changing of the guard among the NFL's hierarchy.

For the first time since 2011, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will not play in the AFC Championship Game. 2020 will be the first time since 2003 that one of Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger aren't playing in the AFC Championship Game. Coincidentally, that was the last time that the Tennessee Titans reached this round.

On the NFC side, Aaron Rodgers is experienced at this stage of the postseason, but the 49ers are an entirely different team than the one that last reached the NFC Championship Game in 2014, when they lost to the Seattle Seahawks. That team was coached by Jim Harbaugh and led by Colin Kaepernick under center. This one is coached by Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacked by Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady's former understudy in New England.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the AFC and NFC Championship Games:

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will host the AFC Championship Game. Photo credit (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

AFC Championship Game: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 at 3:05 p.m. ET on CBS

1. Two seasons ago, the Titans defeated the Chiefs on Wild Card Round, 22-21 at Arrowhead Field. The game means next to nothing in terms of how this game will play out. Marcus Mariota started at quarterback for the Titans in that game, while Alex Smith played in his final game as a Chief. The Titans were coached by Mike Mularkey.
2. Over his past eight games, Derrick Henry is averaging a staggering 159 rushing yards per game. In four career postseason games, the 26-year-old has averaged 140 yards rushing.
3. Despite not throwing a single touchdown pass in his first career playoff game, Patrick Mahomes has eight touchdowns in his brief postseason career. Tight end Travis Kelce has caught four of those touchdowns.
4. Much has been made of the fact that Ryan Tannehill has been held under 100 passing yards in each of the Titans' first two playoff wins. That stat, while noteworthy, is devoid of the context of how dominant Henry has been. When the Titans have needed Tannehill this season, he's showed up, which is why they are 9-3 since he's taken over as the starter.
5. Andy Reid coached teams are 1-5 in Conference Championship Games. Five of those games came during his 14 seasons as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. A season ago, the Chiefs lost 37-31 to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in overtime. They, famously, never got to touch the ball after losing the coin toss in overtime.

Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers will host the NFC Championship Game. Photo credit (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

NFC Championship Game: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 at 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX

1. The 49ers crushed the Packers at Levi's Stadium in Week 12, 37-8. The 49ers sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, and George Kittle hauled in six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
2. You'll be reminded quite a bit this week that the 49ers passed on Cal's Aaron Rodgers when they had the chance to select him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. The 49ers instead selected Utah's Alex Smith. Rodgers fell all the way to the No. 24 pick, where the Packers selected him and had him sit behind Brett Favre for three seasons.
3. The last time that these two teams met in the playoffs was in the Wild Card Round in January of 2014. The 49ers won that game, 23-20. Colin Kaepernick threw for 227 yards and ran for 98 yards on seven carries.
4. The Packers are 5-1 this season in games where Davante Adams tops 100 receiving yards. In the team's NFC Divisional Round win over the Seattle Seahawks, Adams had eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
5. Robert Saleh's defense made a statement in their first playoff game. For as dominant as the 49ers' defense was for much of the 2019 season, they gave up over 30 points per game in December. As they got back Kwon Alexander after a first-round bye, they held a talented Vikings' offense to less than 150 yards of total offense.

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