There are four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs – all with hopes they will reach the Super Bowl with victories next weekend.
The San Francisco 49ers will host the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game, and the Baltimore Ravens will welcome the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
The 49ers are back in the conference title game after last year’s debacle against the Philadelphia Eagles that saw multiple injuries affect the offensive side of the ball. The Lions are in the conference title game for the first time since the 1991 season. A lot has changed in the organization since then.,
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The Ravens are hosting their first conference title game ever. A win would mean the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since the 2012 season. The Chiefs have now made six consecutive conference title games, which have yielded two Super Bowl rings since the 2019 season.
Before the games kick off, take a look below for the list of the top remaining quarterbacks.
4). Brock Purdy, 49ers
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy may be leading the best team left in the NFL postseason, but out of the four quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs, he is ranked last going into the conference championships.
Purdy’s 59% completion rate, 252 passing yards and touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers did not do enough convincing. He had one touchdown pass in the team’s 24-21 victory. He has a whole host of weapons, including Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
McCaffrey showcased just how dangerous he could be as he scored two rushing touchdowns. Purdy threw a touchdown pass to Kittle that helped eke out the win. However, there is definitely room to change the minds of naysayers with a big game against the Detroit Lions as if leading San Francisco on a game-winning drive was not enough.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan praised Purdy.
“There was times that we were all off at times,” Shanahan said, via Yahoo Sports. “… I thought everyone who had a few plays that stuck out, that either ended a drive or it was why we didn’t get a first down — same thing on defense, even on special teams — but everyone who did do that stuff made a huge play at the end in all three phases to get us back into it.
“Brock, he made some big plays in this game, missed a couple — but leading us down on that last drive and getting the win, that’s all you can ask for.”
3). Jared Goff, Lions
Lions quarterback Jared Goff has been here before. He has led Detroit on an improbable run to the conference championship game and has a matchup against the 49ers – one of the best teams in the league. Goff has NFC title game experience as he led the Los Angeles Rams to a victory over the New Orleans Saints in the 2019 game.
Now, Goff is on a new team and is one win away from getting back to the Super Bowl. Goff’s big game experience could be a difference maker against the 49ers. He had 287 passing yards and two touchdown passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Lions’ 31-23 win.
“It’s exciting,” Goff said of getting back to the NFC Championship. “We joked in there after the game. Ironically, the last time a lot of us played in it was against each other. It was me with the Rams against (Lions head coach Dan Campbell) with the Saints. (Lions linebacker Alex) Anzalone was there. (Lions defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn was there. Yeah, so it’s exciting.
“And not just for me, but for our whole team and it’s something that we’ve – it’s not, I don’t want to say this arrogantly, but we expected to win the first game, we expected to win this game and now we get to go to a game we expected to be in against a really good team at their place and we’re going to come into it expecting to win. It’ll be a tough game, but It’ll be fun.”
2). Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
For the sixth consecutive time, Patrick Mahomes has led the Chiefs to a conference championship. Mahomes and the Chiefs might be seen as the perennial favorites to make the Super Bowl once again, but this season has been a little bit different.
Kansas City was ninth in yards gained and 15th in points scored. It was the first time they finished outside the top 10 in points scored since the 2016 season, when Alex Smith was still the starting quarterback. There has been far more trials and tribulations in 2023 for the Chiefs, but they have come out with victories at home against the Miami Dolphins and on the road against the Buffalo Bills.
The pressure will be mostly off Mahomes as all eyes will be on Lamar Jackson as he tries to break through and lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl. He may be able to take advantage and win the game.
“There’s no weakness there,” Mahomes said of the Ravens’ defense. “It’s going to take our best effort. Defense, offense, special teams, they do it all. It’s always a great challenge, and that stadium is going to be rocking, so we’re excited for the challenge.”
1). Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the MVP favorite after the season and proved Saturday night against the Houston Texans that he is more than capable of taking the team to the next level as the best quarterback left in the postseason.
Jackson had 152 passing yards and two touchdown passes as well as two scores on the ground. Baltimore showed no ring rust. Baltimore is also hosting the AFC Championship for the first time in its history. Jackson has the chance to do it all in front of the home crowd.
He said he was motivated a little bit with the knack on him being that he only had one playoff win.
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“I saw it. Yes, I see it, but it is what it is,” Jackson said. “I don’t really care about what people say. I’m trying to win day in and day out. Every time I’m on that field, I’m trying to play to the best of my abilities. Those guys just had our team number in the past, but it’s a different team. Like I’ve been saying, we just have to stay locked in on what’s ahead of us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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