- Aug 1, 1997
- Reaction score
- Sunset, La
By Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
When an NFL team reaches the conference championship game, it has established its bona fides. Rarely do teams get this far by accident.
Championship game participants usually come in two forms. Powerhouses that earned the right to host divisional-round games with dominant regular seasons. Or late-season streakers, teams that found themselves over the course of the long season and are playing their best football at the right time.
Both are present this season. The Patriots and Falcons were titans from the outset, securing their respective conference's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The Steelers and Packers are the league's two hottest teams. Neither has lost since mid-November. Pittsburgh has won nine consecutive games; Green Bay eight in a row.
The teams share several common denominators: dynamic offenses; elite quarterback play; opportunistic defenses; and good health.
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