Super Bowl 53: Here's Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend's NFL Championship Games

On Sunday, we'll finally know who will be heading to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta

After the excitement of the regular season, four NFL teams are now just one win away from a trip to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 3.

In the first of two back-to-back games this Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will face the New Orleans Saints for the NFC Championship, while the New England Patriots visit Kansas City to take on the Chiefs for the AFC title.

Tom Brady, 41, will face 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes, arguably the hottest quarterback in the league this season, while the Saints’ Drew Brees, 40, will hope to outscore 24-year-old Jared Goff of the Rams, who has flourished under the stewardship of Sean McVay, 32, the youngest head coach in the NFL.

It’s the old school versus the new school, and legacies are all on the line. So before these four teams take the field, here is everything you need to know about this weekend’s title games.

View of Lombardi Trophy

NFC Championship: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

When: 3:05 p.m. EST on FOX

Seahawks Rams Football, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Oct 2017
Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff.

Los Angeles Rams (13-3)

Last Saturday, the Rams held off the Dallas Cowboys in Los Angeles to move on to the NFC championship game against New Orleans at the Superdome. The highly anticipated game will be a rematch of their Week 9 showdown, which saw the then-undefeated Rams fall 35-45 for their first loss of the year.

While the Saints finished ahead in the conference, the Rams are coming off their most successful season since moving back to the West Coast from St. Louis in 2016, and their best overall season since 2001, when they lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots (to a then up-and-coming Brady).

One of the primary reasons for the Rams’ success? That would be second-year head coach McVay who took over the team in 2017. McVay has brought the most out of running back Todd Gurley and Goff, who many analysts labeled a “bust” during his rookie season under former coach Jeff Fisher.

The Rams brought in running back CJ Anderson in December, and he has proven to be an invaluable complement to Gurley. His performance may be the deciding factor whether they move on to the Super Bowl (and earn more fans in the City of Angels).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton.

New Orleans Saints (13-3)

The Saints finished at the top of the NFC, and trounced the defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, in their divisional matchup on Sunday to move onto the conference championship.

The Saints have been considered the best team in the league for much of the year, and for good reason: Brees, the team’s longtime quarterback, had a magical season where he completed 74.4 percent of his passes, the best in NFL history. Because of this, many believe Brees has a good shot of being named the NFL’s most valuable player over the favorite, Mahomes of Kansas City.

This season, the Saints — led by coach Sean Payton — saw their first nine-game winning streak since 2009, the same year they won the Super Bowl. They finished with a 13-3 record for the third time in their history, which earned them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to their win over the Rams (who also finished 13-3) in November.

If all of this wasn’t motivation enough, Coach Payton brought in three armed guards and more than $200K in cash, as well as the Vince Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl ring, to a team meeting earlier this month to remind players what was on the line during their playoff run.

AFC Championship: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

When: 6:40 p.m. EST on CBS

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

New England Patriots (11-5)

Here we go, again!

Brady and the Patriots earned their eighth straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game with their 41-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Foxborough last Sunday. The trip to the conference championship will also be the 13th overall appearance for the Patriots since Brady joined almost two decades ago.

This time, though, Brady will be heading into the championship game as an underdog. The Chiefs, led by Mahomes, are slightly favored to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. While the Pats were able to squeeze out a win when they faced the Chiefs in October, a 43-40 victory, Kansas City will now have home-field advantage.

“It’ll be a good game, they’re a good team,” Brady told CBS Sports of the Chiefs last Sunday. “We played them earlier this year and I know everyone thinks we suck and you know, can’t win any games. So we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

The 2018 season saw the Patriots suffer back-to-back double-digit losses for the first time since 2002, coming in Week 2 and 3, but they rebounded to finish off the year 11-5 and saw Brady set a record for most career passing touchdowns in the process. The team is hoping to become the third franchise in NFL history to appear in three straight Super Bowls, after losing last year to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cardinals Chiefs Football, Kansas City, USA - 11 Nov 2018
Quarterback Pat Mahomes and coach Andy Reid. Charlie Riedel/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

The Chiefs handily beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 over the weekend to reach the AFC Championship — their first since 1993.

Led by coach Andy Reid, second-year quarterback Mahomes wowed the league with his craftiness and athleticism that helped the Chiefs go 12-4 this season. Mahomes is the son of Pat Mahomes Sr., a former baseball pitcher who played for the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and other franchises.

The Chiefs went 5-0 to start out the season, before losing to the Patriots. But the Chiefs remained hot, winning their next four games until they faced off against the Los Angeles Rams in November. The two high-octane offenses battled it out, scoring 105 points in total in what is considered one of the best regular season games of all time.

If the Chiefs were to beat the Patriots, it would signal a changing of the guard from the aging Brady to the younger Mahomes, who may very well become the face of the NFL for years to come with a Super Bowl win.

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