We’re down to the final four teams in the NFL playoffs, and there should be little doubt that these are indeed the four best teams football. With four great teams, we’re bound to get a great Super Bowl matchup no matter which teams win this weekend, and while we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a sneak peak at the four potential Super Bowl matchups.
DENVER VS. SEATTLE
If Peyton Manning is in the Super Bowl, all the focus will be on him and his quest for a second championship ring, which is somehow a necessity for him to be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Manning’s storyline would certainly overshadow the storyline of Russell Wilson possibly asserting himself as best of the league’s young quarterbacks by winning a Super Bowl in his second season, although the Manning-Wilson matchup at quarterback would be quite the dichotomy at that position.
Just looking at the teams, this would be a great matchup between a historically good offense and arguably the best defense in the NFL this year. The combination of Manning and his prolific corps of receivers going up against the trio of Pro Bowlers in Seattle’s secondary would be a fascinating matchup to breakdown and debate for two full weeks of pre-game coverage, and could end up creating an intriguing and entertaining Super Bowl.
NEW ENGLAND VS. SAN FRANCISCO
We almost got this matchup in last year’s Super Bowl, and it wouldn’t be a bad matchup to see this year, although both franchises are in different positions than they were last season. This could be a last chance of sorts for the Brad-Belichick Patriots to grab another Super Bowl ring and add to their legacy, while the 49ers have been slowly building towards a Super Bowl victory, including a loss in the big game last year, and they looked destined to win one at some point, and this game could be seen as a passing of the torch from one dynasty in New England to another potential dynasty in San Francisco.
Despite a great matchup of quarterbacks, a Patriots-49ers Super Bowl would ultimately be about the two head coaches: Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh. Belichick has long been the pre-eminent head coach in the NFL, while Harbaugh has taken the league by storm in his first three seasons as a head coach, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship in all three years, which is why this game could potentially pass the torch from one dynasty to the next.
NEW ENGLAND VS. SEATTLE
It happened so long ago that it’s hard to believe, but Bill Belichick actually replaced Pete Carroll as the head coach of the Patriots in 2000 after Carroll was fired following the 1999 season. Of course, that move seems to have worked out for both parties, as Belichick has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, although his last was back in 2004, while Carroll enjoyed many years of success at USC before returning to the NFL and finding success in Seattle the past two seasons.
On the field, the Seattle defense would be the ultimate challenge for Tom Brady, who has taken New England a long ways this season with a watered-down set of playmakers around him. Considering the circumstances, this has been one of the best seasons that both Belichick and Brady have had, and while just appearing in the Super Bowl would be considered a great accomplishment, a win would entail getter the better of one of the stingiest defenses in football, which would be an astounding accomplishment if they can pull it off.
DENVER VS. SAN FRANCISCO
Once again, if Manning plays in this Super Bowl, all the focus would be on him. However, just as we saw last year between Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco, this would be a clash between the traditional pocket passer, this time being Manning, and an athletic quarterback that’s just as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm. A win by Kaepernick and the 49ers could signal that athletic passers are here to stay, as they’ve done a lot of damage in the NFL in the past few seasons, but they’ve yet to win a Super Bowl. Of course, a win by Manning and the Broncos would indicate that there’s still no substitute for a great pocket passer.
Of course, these two teams have some Super Bowl history, as the 49ers blew out the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV, so this game could be a chance for redemption for Denver, especially for John Elway, who was the quarterback for the Broncos in that game and is now the Executive VP of Football Operations in Denver.