Championship games at a glance


AFC: N.Y. Jets (13-4) at Denver (15-2)

Why Denver should win:

The home-field advantage at Mile High Stadium is compelling for the Broncos. But they'll compound the noise factor with eight-man fronts that seem certain to rattle Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde. And Testaverde will need to make a lot of big plays because the Broncos have the second-ranked run defense in the league.

Why New York could win: It's up to coordinator Bill Belichick's defense to keep the Jets in striking range. One of the NFL's best schemers, Belichick's big challenge will be to clog Terrell Davis' cutback lanes. He has to make the Broncos win with the passing game.

Best matchups: Jets coach Bill Parcells vs. the Broncos' Mike Shanahan. Jets MLB Pepper Johnson vs. RB Terrell Davis. Jets' unsung defensive line vs. Broncos' gritty offensive line.

NFC: Atlanta (15-2) at Minnesota (16-1)

Why Minnesota should win: Because the Vikings can strike at Atlanta's Achilles' heel -- its 21st-ranked pass defense. On defense, Minnesota's pass rush should be able to disrupt Chris Chandler, who was not particularly sharp against San Francisco. The Falcons were 29th in sacks allowed per play.

Why Atlanta could win: The Falcons can go as far as Jamal Anderson can run. He is a battering ram, and the Vikings have not had to defend the run often with the game on the line.

Best matchups: Falcons CB Ray Buchanan vs. WR Randy Moss. Falcons DEs Chuck Smith and Lester Archambeau vs. OTs Todd Steussie and Korey Stringer. RB Jamal Anderson vs. Vikings' MLB Ed McDaniel.

Pub Date: 1/11/99

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