Yesterday, I provided my preview of the NFC Championship Game, and I’ll do the same for the AFC tomorrow. But today, here’s a listing of every conference championship game the since the NFL merger. The table below shows each game from the perspective of the winning team and includes a linkable boxscore for each game. The table also includes the Offensive SRS and Defensive SRS grades for each team and each opponent, along with the total SRS difference between the two teams. The final column shows the Vegas spread. You can search for all AFC or NFC games, or all games with BUF or DAL, for example. If you type in “NYG” you will see the five NFC Championship Games the Giants were in: not only was New York 5-0, but they were underdogs in four of those games. As always, the table is also fully sortable.
[table id=373 /]
In the AFC, there haven’t been many repeat championship games: the Broncos and Browns played three times in four years in the late ’80s, Pittsburgh and Houston met in ’78 and ’79, and the Steelers and Raiders faced off in three straight years from ’74 to ’76. In the NFC, Dallas and San Francisco — first in ’70 and ’71, then in ’92, ’93, and ’94 — are the only teams to play in consecutive years in the title game.
The Patriots this year have an Offensive SRS of 12.2, making them the second best offense (to the 2007 Patriots) in championship game history. Since New England is 9.9 points better than Baltimore, this is the fourth most lopsided match-up by SRS standards since the merger. Considering that the Ravens are on the road, the odds of an upset look even longer. The biggest upset by a road team actually occurred last year, when the Giants won in San Francisco despite being 6.7 points worse than the 49ers.
What about in the NFC? Prior to 2012, only five times since 1978 had a home team been the underdog, and only two times had the home team been an underdog of at least three points: in 1981 in the game that featured “The Catch” and in the Cardinals-Eagles 2008 matchup. But this year, the 49ers are favored by 3.5 to 4.5 points, making the Falcons arguably the least respected home team in a conference championship game in 35 years. From an SRS standpoint, the 49ers finished the season at 10.2 and the Falcons 6.4, which does represent one of the more lopsided matchups in the favor of the road team. Curiously, though, the 2006 Colts (SRS difference of -4.4) and 1987 Broncos (SRS difference of -7.1) were both field goal favorites at home. Both covered, albeit in remarkable fashion.