It’s a classic Old School-New School matchup. The Patriots, the team with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history, face the Falcons, who have played in just one previous title game appearance, on Sunday in Super Bowl LI in Houston.
The New England Patriots have earned their ninth title game appearance after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots’ Super Bowl berth came after making their sixth straight conference championship game appearance.
If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. The Patriots’ six-game streak is the longest in NFL history, breaking the old record of five straight championship games, which was set by the Raiders back in the 1970s (1973-77).
Overall, it’s the 11th time that the Patriots have been to a conference title game under Bill Belichick and 13th overall as an organization. In the previous 10 games under Belichick, the Patriots have gone 6-4.
Coincidentally, the team the Patriots had to beat to earn a berth in Super Bowl LI is the only AFC team that’s played in more conference championship games than New England: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 2017 AFC Championship marked the Steelers’ 16th appearance in the conference title game, which is the NFL record for most title game appearances by a team in either the NFC or the AFC. It was the fifth title game of Ben Roethlisberger ‘s career.
The NFC title game between the Falcons and Packers was a matchup of two of the NFL’s highest scoring teams in 2016 (the Falcons ranked No. 1 overall, while the Packers ranked No. 4).
Although you might not think of the Falcons as a dominant team, this was actually their fourth NFC title game appearance over the past 20 years. The last time the Falcons were in the title game came in 2012 when they blew a 17-0 lead at home in a 28-24 loss to the 49ers.
Overall, the loss to the Falcons marked the Packers’ seventh title game appearance in team history, which is the fourth most of any NFC team, trailing only the 49ers (15), Cowboys (14), Rams (9) and Vikings (8).
Here’s a recap of the entire 2017 NFL playoffs leading up to Super Bowl LI in Houston.
Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, Jan. 7
Texans 27, Raiders 14: Putting a rookie quarterback up against the top defense in the NFL is generally a receipt for disaster, which the Raiders found out first-hand against the Texans. Houston had no problem shutting down Oakland’s offense, which was led by Raiders rookie quarterback Connor Cook . Speaking of quarterbacks, the Texans were probably pleasantly surprised by Brock Osweiler ‘s performance. The beleaguered quarterback played arguably his best game of the season. For more on Houston’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Seattle 26, Detroit 6: With Marshawn Lynch in retirement, Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls decided to honor him by going Beast Mode on the Lions . Rawls rushed for 161 yards against the Lions, breaking Lynch’s franchise postseason record of 157. The Seahawks also got a huge game from Doug Baldwin , who caught 11 passes for 104 yards. The win over the Lions means that the Seahawks will be heading to Atlanta for the divisional round. For more on Seattle’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Sunday, Jan. 8
Pittsburgh 30, Miami 12: For the first time ever, Ben Roethlisbeger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all played together in a playoff game, which turned out to be horrible news for Miami. The Dolphins defense had no answer for Bell (29 carries, 167 yards, 2 TDs) or Brown (five catches, 124 yards, two TDs) as the Steelers rolled. For more on Pittsburgh’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Green Bay 38, N.Y. Giants 13: Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers put on a show in the Packers ‘ win. Although that’s almost expected from Rodgers, it was somewhat of a surprise from Cobb, who caught five passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Cobb clearly likes playing the Giants. During the regular season, the receiver only had one game where he went over 100-yards and that game came against, you guessed it, the Giants. For more on Green Bay’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Saturday, Jan. 14
Atlanta 36, Seattle 20: The Seahawks defense had no answer for Matt Ryan , who torched Seattle for 338 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons scored on five of their first six possessions as they jumped out to a 29-13 lead. The win means that Atlanta will be heading to the NFC title game for just the fourth time in team history. The Falcons are 1-2 all-time in the NFC Championship. For more on Atlanta’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
New England 34, Houston 16: The Patriots got punched in the mouth early, but then recovered and KO’d the Texans in the second half of an 18-point win that was closer than the score indicated. Tom Brady threw as many picks against Houston (two) as he did during the entire regular season. The good news for the Patriots is that ugly wins count the same as every other win. New England will be moving on to the AFC title game for the sixth straight year. That streak sets a new NFL record, breaking the old mark set by the Raiders from 1973-77 and tied by the Patriots last year. For more on New England’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Sunday, Jan. 15
Green Bay 34, Dallas 31: In one of the wildest playoff games you’ll ever see, Aaron Rodgers threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers beat the Cowboys to advance to the NFC title game for the third time since 2010. After two straight years of watching the Packers’ season end in overtime, Mason Crosby decided not to let the game that far this time around. The Packers kicker nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to give his team the win. For more on Green Bay’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Pittsburgh 18, Kansas City 16: Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben aren’t the only “Killer B’s” in Pittsburgh — there’s also kicker Chris Boswell , who put together one of the most impressive kicking performances in postseason history. The Steelers kicker set an NFL record with six field goals against the Chiefs , and as you can tell by the final score, all six of them were sorely needed. Bell (170 yards rushing) and Brown (108 yards receiving) also came up big in the win. For more on Pittsburgh’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Sunday, Jan. 22
Atlanta 44, Green Bay 21: The Packers had no answer for Matt Ryan or Julio Jones as the Falcons completely steamrolled their way to an 23-point win in the NFC title game. Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, and most of that went to Jones, who tallied 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Ryan’s four touchdown passes made him the first QB in eight years (Kurt Warner) to throw four or more touchdown passes in a conference title game. With the win, the Falcons are now headed to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. For more on Atlanta’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
New England 36, Pittsburgh 17: Tom Brady played like a man possessed, which makes sense because the at 39-years-old, the Patriots quarterback might not get too many more shots at the Super Bowl. Brady was almost perfect against the Steelers, going 32 of 42 for 384 yards and three touchdown. The Patriots didn’t do much on the ground, but that didn’t matter because wide receivers Chris Hogan (180 yards, 2 TD) and Julian Edelman (118 yards, 1 TD) both had huge games for the Patriots. For more on New England’s win, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here .
Super Bowl LI
Sunday, Feb. 5
New England vs. Atlanta at NRG Stadium in Houston, 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox): The final game of the NFL season should provide us with some fireworks as we’ll be getting the NFC’s high-scoring team in Atlanta (33.8 points per game), going up against the AFC’s highest-scoring team in New England (27.6). This will be Patriots’ ninth Super Bowl appearance, which will break that all-time record they had previously held with the Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers. As for the Falcons, they’re slightly newer to this whole Super Bowl thing. The game against New England will mark just the second time in franchise history that the Falcons’ have reached the Super Bowl (lost in 1998).
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