Here are the top stories from Monday:
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says running back Eddie Lacy must return in better shape (by Jason Wilde)
From Bill Barnwell's story on how each of the final four teams left in the playoffs can be beaten: "The Panthers are too athletic and too well-coached to beat on a regular basis. The one way you can really stretch them, though, is to get them out of their comfort zone and force them to improvise. You do that by getting out of the pocket. When the Panthers kept opposing passers in the pocket this season, they were dominant, posting a league-best opposing QBR of 38.2. Outside the pocket? Not so good. Their QBR nearly doubled, going up to 71.1. The league's best unit inside the pocket fell all the way to 27th once passers got outside."
Magic Johnson first to put deposit on Los Angeles Rams tickets (by Nick Wagoner)
Carson Palmer, Cam Newton first Heisman QBs to face off in playoffs (by Josh Weinfuss)
From Mike Sando's story on why the Seahawks' Super Bowl window remains wide-open: "The Seahawks in recent seasons fielded one of the five or 10 youngest rosters in the league. Their average age has crept toward the average, an indication Seattle will need to restock through the draft to supply its longer-term future. In the meantime, this is a team whose key players are in their prime years, starting with [Russell] Wilson."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady playfully ribs wide receiver Julian Edelman on Facebook (by Mike Reiss)
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch cracked the helmet of a Panthers safety (by Sheil Kapadia)
From Jim Trotter's story on Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald relishing another playoff run: "If Larry Fitzgerald looked like he was trying to end the game as quickly as possible Saturday night in overtime, racing through the Packers' secondary for a 75-yard gain that was followed two plays later by his decisive 5-yard score, it's because he was."
From John Clayton's story on the biggest matchup of Sunday's AFC title game: "The daily headline for this week's AFC Championship Game is going to be 'Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning.' That's just inevitable. But the real story of this game is Tom Brady versus Wade Phillips, the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator."
Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson announced as Eagles coach (by Phil Sheridan)
Carolina coach Ron Rivera bans hoverboards inside Panthers' facility (by David Newton)
From ESPN Stats & Information research: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will meet for the fifth time in the playoffs, the most postseason meetings by two starting quarterbacks in NFL history. With Brady or Manning guaranteed to advance to Super Bowl 50, 12 of the past 13 Super Bowls will have featured either Brady, Manning or Ben Roethlisberger.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 18, 2016