Two Super Bowl berths are on the line this weekend in the AFC and NFC championship games.
Sunday's 2012 NFL playoff schedule follows:
Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern): Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
New England throttled Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in every aspect of their AFC Divisional Round matchup. Tom Brady threw for a postseason record-tying six touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski caught a hat trick of scores. The oft-maligned Patriots defense limited the Broncos to just 252 yards, the least the Patriots allowed all season, while sacking Tebow five times and pressuring the second-year icon into 9 of 26 passing for 136 yards.
Things shouldn't be so easy against Baltimore. The Ravens ousted the Houston Texans 20-13 by forcing four turnovers and playing their typical smash-mouth football. Led by Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, the Ravens' defense sometimes seems like it has more stars than the Milky Way galaxy.
Sunday at 6:30 (Eastern): New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers
The Giants got hot late in the regular season and carried that success straight into Lambeau Field, where the G-Men ousted the powerful Green Bay Packers by a score of 37-20. Eli Manning has been stellar all season long and deadly in the fourth quarter, and the Giants defense has regained the fierce pass rush that led New York's 2008 Super Bowl title.
Alex Smith didn't just lead one San Francisco game-winning drive in the final three minutes against New Orleans. He led two. Smith ran 28 yards for a touchdown with 2:11 left to give San Francisco the lead, then responded to a Drew Brees touchdown pass by finding Vernon Davis in the end zone with nine seconds left, giving San Francisco a 36-32 victory. The Niners are typically led by their solid defense, Frank Gore's running and Smith's game management, but with the season on the line, Smith and Davis rose to the occasion.