Postseason emotions fuel motivation, and both work in strange ways.
Regardless of sport - be it football, baseball, basketball, or hockey - it takes the players to feed off them. Whether in your favor or against your mojo, momentum is a commodity for every team participating.
In Sunday's NFC Championship, we have the top two seeds battling it out, with the San Francisco 49ers visiting the Philadelphia Eagles. And it's hard to dispute the NFC's top seeds will be riding emotional highs into Sunday's 3 pm pacific kickoff.
Then there's the AFC Championship, in Kansas City, where the Chiefs play host to the Bengals, who won the regular-season matchup, 27-24, in Cincinnati.
I expect both games to take all four fanbases on emotional roller coasters, and no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.
In the NFC, we're getting a pair of dominating defensive units that, per TeamRankings.com, faced two of the three easiest schedules this season. San Francisco ranks 30th and Philadelphia is dead last at 32nd, in terms of the schedule of strength.
When you look at the divisions they hail from, the 49ers come out of the NFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 16.75. The Eagles rolled through the NFC East, which has an overall average ranking of 21.25.
Edge to Frisco with a +4.5.
So what will it mean Sunday?
Both teams are eccentric on offense, with the 49ers bringing coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive gloss behind young Brock Purdy, and the Eagles' unpredictable ways keeping opposing defenses guessing.
The answer to the NFC riddle is which defense will be able to limit the big plays and come up with the big stop at the right time.
The Eagles had five players with at least 35 pressures, and they recorded 54 sacks when rushing four or fewer defenders. The 49ers led the NFL in total defense (300.6), scoring defense (16.3), and turnover margin (+13) while ranking second in rush defense (77.7).
In the AFC, the storyline is glaring, with the Chiefs in triple-revenge since Joe Burrow entered the league.
Back to TeamRankings.com, where the Bengals rank second in the strength of schedule and the Chiefs sit 13th.
Again, looking at the divisions they hail from, the Bengals come out of the AFC North, which has an overall average ranking of 5.25. The Chiefs dominated the AFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 20.5.
Edge to the Bengals with a +15.25.
For this game, the question is whether or not Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be mobile enough to lead Kansas City's offense and keep up with a Bengals offensive unit that ranked fourth in the league with 378 yards per game.
Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has three touchdowns against no interceptions with a 100.8 rating this postseason and aims for his fourth straight playoff game with no picks. Burrow is 3-0 with nine touchdowns vs. one interception and a 121 rating in three career starts versus Kansas City.
Mahomes, who led the NFL with 5,250 yards passing and 41 touchdown passes this season, has 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions with a 116.7 rating in 10 career home playoff starts, with two touchdown passes in each of his last five. Mahomes has a 90+ rating in each of four career starts versus Cincinnati, including the playoffs.
One thing is for sure, no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.