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AFC, NFC title games highlight weekend TV best bets

One of the best days in all of sports, NFL Championship Sunday features two rematches from regular-season routs.

In the NFC title game, which will kick off at 12:05 p.m. on Fox (5), the Green Bay Packers will try to erase memories of their 36-16 loss to the Seahawks in the season opener in Seattle.

In the AFC title game, slated for a 3:40 p.m. kickoff on CBS (8), the Indianapolis Colts look to avenge their 42-20 home defeat to the New England Patriots in November.

Recent history suggests one of the underdogs will pull an outright upset. Each of the past four times both conference title games featured touchdown favorites, one of the favorites lost outright.

Packers at Seahawks: This will be just the second time that a conference title game will pit the NFL’s top scoring offense (Green Bay) against the top scoring defense (Seattle). In the first such matchup in 1980, defense prevailed as Philadelphia defeated Dallas 20-7. The last playoff game in any round with said matchup was in Super Bowl XLVIII, when defense also won a championship in the Seahawks’ 43-8 rout of the Broncos.

Seattle has won eight straight home playoff games and 25 of 27 games overall at CenturyLink Field.

Colts at Patriots: Andrew Luck is 0-3 with three blowout losses to the Pats, who are on the verge of their eighth Super Bowl appearance, which would tie them with the Steelers and Cowboys for the most in NFL history.

Tom Brady will set a league record with his ninth conference title game appearance in his 13th full season. Bill Belichick is seeking his NFL-record 21st postseason win, which would break a tie with former Cowboys coach Tom Landry.

Luck, who led the league with 40 touchdown passes, is looking to join Joe Flacco and the immortal Mark Sanchez as the only quarterbacks to beat Brady and Peyton Manning in the same postseason.

TODAY

Kick off your weekend by watching what promises to be an entertaining NBA doubleheader. Sharpshooter Stephen Curry and the league-leading Golden State Warriors (31-5) take their show on the road against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first game (5 p.m., ESPN (30)), and LeBron James and the scuffling Cleveland Cavaliers hit the road against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers in the nightcap (7:30 p.m., ESPN (30), Prime (50)).

BEST OF REST: Washington Capitals at Nashville Predators (5 p.m., NHLN (316)); New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks (7 p.m., FSW (49)).

SATURDAY

It doesn’t get much better than this for college basketball fans, who can feast their eyes on five matchups of top-25 teams, including two showdowns of top-10 squads. Also, UNLV (10-7, 1-3 Mountain West) plays at San Diego State (13-4, 3-1) at 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network (333).

No. 4 Duke at No. 6 Louisville (9 a.m., ESPN (30)): Two of the best college basketball coaches ever match wits in this Atlantic Coast Conference clash, as Rick Pitino leads the Cardinals (15-2, 3-1) against Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2).

No. 8 Utah at No. 10 Arizona (4 p.m., PAC12 (334)): The Utes haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 1998. Arizona has won 31 straight at the McKale Center.

BEST OF REST: No. 16 West Virginia at No. 20 Texas (3 p.m., ESPN (30)); No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 18 Oklahoma (4 p.m., ESPN2 (31)); No. 9 Kansas at No. 11 Iowa State (6 p.m., ESPN (30)); Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (7 p.m., FSW (49), NHLN (316)).

SUNDAY

BEST OF REST: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins (9:30 a.m., NBC (3)); Virginia Tech at No. 15 North Carolina (3:30 p.m., ESPNU (320)).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.

 

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