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Sunday, January 22, 2006
 
Conference Championship Sunday

Let's start off with a little trivia quiz:

1. Who is the only quarterback to start and win both an NFC and an AFC Conference Championship in the Super Bowl era?
2. Before there was a Super Bowl, the NFL and AFL both had their separate championships. Can you name the only quarterback to start and win an NFL and an AFL championship in the pre-Super Bowl era?
3. Two quarterbacks were the starters and winners of an NFL Championship and an AFC Championship. Can you name them?
4. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Delhomme have a chance to accomplish something rare today; they could make it to the Super Bowl by winning three consecutive postseason games on the road. Can you name the only quarterback in history who's accomplished that feat? Hint: He didn't play much in the Super Bowl.

Of course, the toughest question to answer is who's going to win today. If Denver and Carolina win, we'd have the Jake Bowl, featuring Jake Plummer against Jake Delhomme. In both games we have conflicting signals. Home teams tend to win postseason games, but not necessarily in the Conference Championships. Since 1997 the home teams are actually 7-9 in the penultimate games.

Looking at the coaching matchup, there is a clear edge to Denver over the Steelers. Shanahan has won Conference Championships before, while Cowher, memorably, has lost three straight since winning the 1995 AFC title tilt. In the other game it's hard to pick a coach; both Holmgren and Fox have won conference championships before; slight edge to Holmgren.

Among the QBs, Jake Delhomme has had by far the most success. Ben Roethlisberger has now won three postseason games as a starting QB, while Jake Plummer has two, and Matt Hasselbeck one.

I'm going with the upset special today: I say Pittsburgh and Carolina advance to the big game. But take the points!
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