This coming Sunday will be the final weekend of football before the Super Bowl with multiple matchups in the AFC and NFC Championships. With all of the theatrics and allure of the non-football related elements leading up to Super Bowl Sunday with the week off, it sort of feels like the final weekend truly about football, and the anticipation of teams punching their tickets to what will be a game that will go down in history always feels truly special. As football fans, you get to picture what any of the final four remaining teams will look like next to the vibrant-colored Roman numeral logo all week or potentially even having confetti rain down as the trophy is hoisted.

The NFL is a quarterback-based league, and this year, the episodes leading up to the season finale is quite unique in that the matchups are almost the polar opposite of the spectrum in the AFC and the NFC. History is going to be made, one way or the other, but in a very different category depending upon what the football gods decide to write in the book.

In the AFC, we’re getting Lamar Jackson against Patrick Mahomes for the first time in the postseason in Baltimore. Mahomes is already a two-time MVP that has never not been in the AFC Championship as a starter, and as he’s the man with the target on his back for the foreseeable future in the conference throughout his duels with Joe Burrow and Josh Allen, it’s about time we get to see him face off with Lamar with stakes on the line. Should Lamar win the MVP when the NFL Honors Awards are announced on February 8th (he’s the current betting favorite), he’ll also be a two-time MVP.

Whatever happens in the game, the narrative of the team making it to the Super Bowl is going to be that an elite, generational quarterback led them to where they needed to be once again. This is the “most-vulnerable” Chiefs team Mahomes has ever been working with, having the most drops in the league in the skill position group, Kelce finally showing his age, and now losing three defensive starters to injury in the divisional round, Pat taking them over the top and carrying them on his back like he has thus far would be the storybook narrative. 

For the Ravens, they may have the most-dominant unit remaining of the four teams in their defense, which allowed the fewest points all season and shut down CJ Stroud and the Texans for just 38 yards and apart from a punt-return TD just 3 points (which could have been an interception if not dropped). However, Lamar finally being unleashed after getting his contract that he held out for in a likely-MVP season is something special. He makes plays that aren’t quantifiable in a box score, and the story would be that he finally got the offensive weapons and coordinator to maximize his capabilities all the way through the regular season and into the postseason to create a rushing offense that we’ve never seen before.

The NFC is on the opposite end of the spectrum for our quarterback stories: the revenge tours in proving the doubters wrong

Jared Goff had a team and coach quite literally quit on him as he was viewed as the weak link in a prolific Rams offense that ended up winning the Super Bowl by adding Matthew Stafford as the missing piece. Even when he arrived as the consolation fill-in for the Lions, the conversation surrounding him and the beginning of the Dan Campbell era was that he would be a solid stop-gap quarterback as they improved their draft position to take a young quarterback and usher in a new regime.

They stayed the course and have an offense where Goff makes everything looks effortless- to the Jahmyr Gibbs swing passes where he runs to the outside looking like Kirby going on a rampage in Super Smash Bros. to the passes over the middle to the tight end of the future in Sam LaPorta, Goff’s revenge tour would entail beating the Rams in the wild card round and being the primary position player that has led the third-best offense in the NFL all season.

Photo: Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports

For Brock Purdy and the Niners, there’s never been a more toxically-divisive quarterback in the NFL online for someone that was drafted as a Mr. Irrelevant. We’ve seen the Niners operate at a Super Bowl-caliber clip in the Kyle Shanahan scheme, making everything as easy as possible and plug-and-play for “whomever is under center” ever since the days where Jimmy Garoppolo was an Emmanuel Sanders overthrow away from winning a ring in 2020. Purdy DOES benefit from having arguably the best situation possible in terms of schemes and weapons, and is in a Kevin Durant in Golden State situation where he’ll never properly earn the credit he deserves with winning a “true ring” even if he’s playing the most-important position in football and playing it with the 5th-best QBR in NFL history just at week 16 (119.0).

Purdy should absolutely not care at all about the conversations and merely use it as motivation on this silence-the-doubters tour. While playing in the divisional round, he did play a rough game in the rainy conditions edging out Green Bay, but you’re supposed to win your “clunkers,” and he still led a game-winning drive without Deebo Samuel. Yes, the Shanahan scheme and this roster does make life easy for the quarterback, but there’s still not anyone that has operated it as well as he has in his second season. For Purdy, he can merely tell the doubters that there’s no reason to believe that he’s not as good as advertised and mic-drop with an “I guess we’ll never know.”

We have two incredibly romantic, barbarian matchups at the quarterback position contrasting one another this Championship Sunday. Hold on tight.

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