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NFL Playoffs: Championship Sunday Open Thread

The NFL has reached its final four. Who will be in Super Bowl XLVII?


Falcons. 49ers. Patriots. Ravens. After 17 weeks of the regular season and two weeks of playoffs, these are the four teams that remain. When the dust settles today, two of them will be left standing to be the combatants in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3.

Today's schedule:

Playoffs - Conference Championshipsback to top »
San Francisco at Atlanta 3:00 PM FOX

Baltimore at New England 6:30 PM CBS

Plenty of interesting story lines here. From the Cal perspective, the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez and Thomas DeCoud try to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in their careers. Gonzo might be a sentimental favorite, as his Hall-of-Fame career is winding down. The Falcons will have a tall order in the NFC Championship Game, however, as the San Francisco 49ers stand in their way. The 49ers were impressive in their divisional playoff win against the Green Bay Packers last week and are poised to reach the Super Bowl for the sixth time in franchise history.

And there is the potential for an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh leads his team against the New England Patriots in a rematch of last year's AFC title game. If the 49ers can win today and the Ravens can upset the Patriots in Foxboro, Harbaugh brothers Jim and John will match wits against one another in Super Bowl XLVII. I wonder if Jim would pat John real hard on the back and/or ask him what his deal is.

The AFC Championship game also has a Cal angle. Shane Vereen, who had a three-touchdown performance in New England's divisional playoff win over the Houston Texans last week, is now a prominent part of the Patriots offense. If the Patriots win, Vereen will get to the Super Bowl for the second time -- this time as a key player in the Patriots' run.

This is your open thread for the games. Enjoy.