Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and their respective teams, have dominated the AFC over the past 15 years.
In the previous 14 years before this one, as Brady and Manning partook in what eventually became, arguably, the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history, their teams participated in a combined nine Super Bowl title games - six by Brady's New England Patriots, and three by Manning's Indianapolis Colts (two) and Denver Broncos (one). Between the two of them, Brady and Manning had 13 conference championship game appearances.
Until today. Denver hosts New England in the 2015 AFC championship game today, meaning that the total number of championship game appearances between Brady and Manning jumps to 15, and when a victor is decided, their total count of Super Bowl appearances will reach 10.
The rivalry is no longer what it once was; while the 38-year-old Brady continues to play at an elite level, the 39-year-old Manning's production has slowed significantly over the last season and a half. He also missed a huge stretch of games this season with a foot injury. That's why most expect that Brady and the Patriots will prevail in their fifth straight AFC championship game appearance - and that if Denver does pull the upset, it'll be because of a dominant performance from Denver's top-rated defense and the Denver running game.
Perhaps for the final time, Brady and Manning square off in a conference title game. Can Denver's home-field advantage and defensive superiority carry Manning to his fourth Super Bowl? Or will Brady and the Patriots advance, looking to win back-to-back championships for the second time in New England's dynasty?
This is your open thread for the AFC championship game. Enjoy it as best as you can, Bills fans.