Most common NFC Championship Game matchups in NFL history

What are the most common NFC Championship Game matchups to have happened since the merger in 1970, and how often have they occurred?

The NFC Championship Game began in 1970 when the NFL officially merged and formed one league with two conferences. Prior to that, the game to determine who went to the Super Bowl as the then-NFL representative was called the NFL Championship Game. Let’s take a look back at the most common matchups in the history of the NFC Championship Game.

What is the most common NFC Championship Game matchup?

The 2021-22 NFC Championship Game will be the 52nd time the game has been played since the merger was finalized in 1970. In that span, 10 matchups have occurred two or more times, with one particular matchup standing alone atop the list.

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

In the 51 NFC Championship Games to have taken place so far, a Cowboys-49ers matchup has accounted for six of those. That means that more than 1 in 10 NFC Championship Games has seen these two teams face off so far. This was also the first-ever NFC Championship Game matchup back in 1970. They then rolled it back and did it all over again in 1971.

The Cowboys lead the overall series 4-2, including winning the first two matchups in 1970 and 1971. The Cowboys would go on to lose the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Colts after the first matchup, but they beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI the following year.

The most famous of the meetings arguably came in the 1981-82 season. The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-27 thanks to “The Catch.” That touchdown with 51 seconds remaining would send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. They would go on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI.

The final three matchups came across three straight seasons between 1992 and 1994. The Cowboys won the first two matchups, with the 49ers prevailing in the final one. The Cowboys would defeat the Buffalo Bills in both Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII. Meanwhile, the 49ers would prevail over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Therefore, the winner of this particular NFC Championship Game matchup is 5-1 in the Super Bowl that followed.

Which NFC Championship Game matchups have occurred twice?

Not only do the Cowboys and 49ers sit atop the record books for the most NFC Championship Game matchups, but the two teams also feature in seven of the nine matchups to have taken place twice. Here is the list of the other nine matchups to have happened twice since the merger in 1970.

  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington
    Washington 2-0; 1972 and 1982
  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
    Tie 1-1; 1973 and 1977
  • Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings
    Vikings 2-0; 1974 and 1976
  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams
    Cowboys 2-0; 1975 and 1978
  • Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Rams 2-0; 1979 and 1999
  • Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers
    49ers 2-0; 1984 and 1988
  • Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
    49ers 1-0*; 1989 and 2021
  • New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
    Giants 2-0; 1990 and 2011
  • Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
    Tie 1-1; 1997 and 2019

Which matchup between NFC teams has occurred three times in Conference Championships?

The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys have faced off three times in games to determine who would go to the Super Bowl. However, as the NFC Championship Game only includes matchups played since the 1970 merger, only one of those games counts for the list above.

The Packers and Cowboys have faced each other a further two times to determine who would go to the Super Bowl. Those two matchups came in the first two seasons of the Super Bowl era. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 34-27 in the Cotton Bowl before defeating the Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I. They then defeated the Cowboys again 21-17 in Lambeau Field, with the game commonly referred to as the “Ice Bowl” due to the frigid temperatures. Green Bay would win Super Bowl II, defeating the Raiders 33-14.

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