NFL Playoff Picture: 4 One-on-One Matchups That Will Be the Most Fun To Watch
With the 2011-2012 NFL playoffs just over the horizon and one more week of games to decide which teams will have a chance to play for the Super Bowl, we'll take a look at four possible one-on-one matchups that will have fans on the edge of their seats.
With teams like the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans all guaranteed playoff spots, intriguing matchups should not be hard to come by.
Here are a few that will stand out if they happen.
Jim Schwartz vs. Jim Harbaugh
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It would be really interesting to see the Harbaugh Bowl Part II in the Super Bowl this year, but perhaps, an even more intriguing coaching matchup would be Jim vs. Jim.
The 'Niners' and Lions' head coaches got into a scuffle following Detroit's first loss of the season at the hands of San Francisco, and no matter who you think was in the wrong, a possible rematch has "intrigue" written all over it.
Schwartz has turned this Lions team around quickly and got them into the playoffs with a big win over San Diego after a rough stretch of the season. Meanwhile, Harbaugh has achieved an even faster turnaround, taking a 6-10 team with essentially the same personnel and turning them into a 12-3 team. Both guys are fiery, and both might show a little extra something on the sidelines in this one.
The Lions, projected as the fifth seed in the NFC, would have to win at least one game to face the 'Niners, depending on whether San Francisco gets the second or third seed.
If it happens, expect the cameras to be glued to the two coaches.
Arian Foster vs. Ray Lewis
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Ray Lewis is reportedly not yet 100 percent coming off an injury, but he should be able to get healthy for the playoffs. If the Ravens end up playing the Texans, Lewis vs. Texans' running back Arian Foster would be fun to watch.
Lewis is in his 16th season, but he's still going strong. Even though he missed time, he still leads the team in tackles and has added two forced fumbles and two sacks. Lewis is a high-intensity player and a leader for a stout Ravens defense, and he'll be charged with stopping Houston's powerful running game.
Foster is in his third season out of Tennessee and has racked up 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, along with 617 yards and two touchdowns through the air, despite missing two games. He and Ben Tate provide a strong one-two punch.
Foster was held to just 49 yards on 15 carries in the first contest between these two teams this year, while Lewis had 12 tackles.
Would the veteran be able to bottle up the explosive youngster again?
Tom Brady vs. Terrell Suggs
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Tom Brady vs. Terrell Suggs is a more likely matchup than the previous one, because there's a pretty good chance of the Ravens and Patriots meeting up at some point during the playoffs.
It would be very interesting to see how Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, handles the consistent pressure he would likely see from Suggs and the Ravens defense.
Brady has had a statistically-dominant year, putting up 4,897 yards and 36 touchdowns against 11 interceptions up to this point. He has also led the Pats to a 12-3 record, which is pretty impressive considering how porous their secondary has been this year.
In the meantime, Suggs took over as a defensive leader for the injured Ray Lewis and has also had an outstanding year, collecting 64 tackles, 13 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. His ferocious style of play could be just what the Ravens need to keep Brady off balance.
I don't think the Patriots have anyone who can consistently protect Brady from Suggs, so it will be very interesting to see how Brady counters the pressure.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees
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This is not a direct matchup like some of the others on this list, but this game, which will most likely be played at some point in the playoffs, will probably end up being a shootout between the two elite quarterbacks, both of whom have had historic years.
Brees recently broke Dan Marino's single-season record for passing yards in a blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons. He has posted an NFL-leading 5,087 yards to go along with 41 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions on a 70.7 percent completion rate. He has a season QBR of 108.4.
Meanwhile, Rodgers has had an unprecedented year in his own right, throwing for 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns and six interceptions on a 68.3 percent completion rate. If his season QBR of 122.5 stands, he will beat out Peyton Manning for the highest single-season quarterback rating in NFL history.
The two best quarterbacks of the year will likely face off in a rematch, and the winner could easily end up the Super Bowl champion.
What's more exciting than that?