(Reuters) – There is a new challenger standing in the way of the New England Patriots’ path to another Super Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Patriot’s traditional rivals Pittsburgh 45-42 on Sunday to set up a meeting with New England in Massachusetts for the American Football Conference (AFC) championship next Sunday.
The winner goes on the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis where they will meet either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles and Vikings will decide the National Football Conference (NFC) title in Philadelphia next Sunday.
The Patriots, who will be appearing in their seventh consecutive AFC title game, made it out of the divisional round with a 35-14 rout of the Tennessee Titans.
The reigning Super Bowl champions have had little trouble with the Jaguars in the past, winning seven consecutive meetings for a 10-1 edge. They last met in 2015, a 51-17 New England victory.
This will be Jacksonville’s first AFC championship appearance since the 1999 season.
Philadelphia and Minnesota also have not appeared in conference championships recently.
The Eagles last played for an NFC title in the 2008 season and the Vikings in the 2009 season. Both lost.
Philadelphia advanced over the weekend with a 15-10 divisional round win over the Atlanta Falcons and the Vikings outlasted the New Orleans Saints 29-24, scoring a touchdown as time expired.
Philadelphia and Minnesota are dead even in all-time games, each winning 13.
The Eagles took the last one, 21-10 in Philadelphia in 2016, but the Vikings have a special incentive.
A victory over the Eagles would enable Minnesota to become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Two teams have made Super Bowl appearances in their home market but played the game in different stadiums.
The San Francisco 49ers, who played in Candlestick Park, beat the Miami Dolphins in Stanford Stadium in the 1985 Super Bowl, and the Los Angeles Rams, who home field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1980 Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Sunday, January 21
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots, 2005 GMT/3:05 PM ET
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles, 2340 GMT/6:40 PM ET
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)