The NFL would be hard-pressed to come up with a playoff weekend that could match the firepower and drama that set up this week's conference championship games.
But even if this week's contests end up being a letdown, they will set up a Super Bowl XLVII matchup that should provide some interesting storylines, no matter who advances.
The Baltimore Ravens, led emotionally by 17th-year linebacker and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, stunned the Denver Broncos, 38-35, in a marathon that stretched into a second overtime in Denver's thin mountain air. The Ravens' opponent in the AFC title game is a familiar one - the New England Patriots, who once again dominated the Houston Texas, 41-28, to set up a rematch of last year's 23-20 championship won by New England (both games played in Foxborough, Mass).
The 49ers, led by second-year quarterback sensation Colin Kaepernick in their 45-31 win over Green Bay, will travel to the Georgia Dome to meet the Atlanta Falcons, who blew two 20-point leads to the Seattle Seahawks but won 30-28 on Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds to play.
The obvious buzz surrounds a potential Ravens-49ers game featuring coaching brothers John Harbaugh (Ravens) and Jim (49ers), who are advancing to their respective championship games for the second straight year, and looking for redemption after losses last season.
A Ravens-Falcons matchup could feature the final games for two future first-ballot NFL Hall of Famers - Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who already has announced his retirement, and the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez, who at 36 is still one of the NFL's most productive tight ends.
The Patriots-49ers would match the youngster (Kaepernick) vs. the veteran (Brady) who hasn't won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, but is seeking his sixth berth in the game (and fourth championship) in a 13-year career.
And, either Brady ends that long drought, or the Falcons earn their first Super Bowl victory in a year in which they recorded their first playoff victory in eight seasons.
Which Super Bowl matchup would you like to see? Tell us in the comments below.