NFL Playoff Scenarios: Ranking Most Intriguing Possible Super Bowl Matchups

Shawn BrubakerContributor IIJanuary 5, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 25:   Jordan Bernstine #48 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game at FedExField on August 25, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Anything can happen in the NFL playoffs. Wild-card teams can upset 13-win powerhouses, maligned-quarterbacks can become stars and a losing record in the regular season is no guarantee of a loss in the playoffs. In all the possible scenarios, though, these are the Super Bowl matchups that you'll want to see.

Some of these matchups feature elite quarterbacks facing off, others have some juicy storylines off the field. All of them have this in common, though: They would all be a Super Bowl for the ages.


Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers


What Needs to Happen

The Ravens will have to start off by beating the emotionally-driven Indianapolis Colts, then likely travel for their next two games. The 49ers will play either the Redskins, Packers or Seahawks in the divisional round at home. From there, they'll need to either beat the Falcons on the road or another team at home.


Why It's Exciting

One word: Harbaugh. The battle of the Harbaughs has only happened once so far in the NFL, with the Ravens winning 17-6. 

That low score doesn't do justice to how entertaining that game was. Where many low-scoring games are a result of offensive incompetence, this was a result of two hard-hitting, bone-crunching defenses.

Adding to the intrigue this year would be Ray Lewis playing his final game. Ed Reed also has an expiring contract and could move on from the Ravens.

The 49ers, meanwhile, would be starting a quarterback who has half a season of leading an NFL offense under his belt.

While this matchup might lack the offensive firepower that is typical of premier matchups, it would be the most emotional and would guarantee a hard-hitting struggle. Don't be surprised if this matchup turns into a shootout.


Indianapolis Colts vs Washington Redskins

What Needs to Happen

This might be a little far-fetched, but it could happen. The Colts will have to beat the Ravens on the Road, then either the Broncos or the Patriots, then win another game likely on the road. The Redskins, meanwhile, would have to beat the Seahawks at home, then either the Falcons or the 49ers on the road, then win another game likely on the road.


Why It's Exciting

As crazy as this matchup would be, it's also the most exciting for a couple of reason.

Rookie quarterbacks is the main calling card, as these two teams feature two of the best rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. We've had three amazing rookie quarterbacks this year, but it's been Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck who have really captured the NFL's imagination.

This matchup would see the top-two picks in the draft square off. Both teams would look to complete epic turnarounds from abysmal 2011 seasons. The Colts would also have the extra emotion of playing for Chuck Pagano. The Indianapolis head coach beat cancer over the course of the season.

We would be guaranteed the first Super Bowl-winning rookie quarterback in NFL history, one of the biggest team turnarounds in NFL history and what would undoubtedly be an incredible game.


Denver Broncos vs Green Bay Packers


What Needs to Happen

The Broncos will get to host either the Ravens, Texans or Colts, then host the AFC Championship. The Packers will need to take care of the Vikings at home, then either the 49ers or Falcons on the road. From there, they could either be on the road or at home.


Why It's Exciting

From a pure football standpoint, this might be the best matchup these playoffs could offer. Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, two great defenses with great pass-rushers and two brilliant head coaches.

Hard to believe that this is the same Broncos team that was caught up in Tebow-mania last year, but now, they are far more than a sideshow. From a team standpoint, the Broncos are the NFL's most talented. Manning leads a hyper-efficient offense, and the Broncos boast defense that is truly stellar with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil leading the charge.

The Packers aren't quite as deep, but Aaron Rodgers can do things with his legs that Manning can only dream of. Paired with an elite receiving corps and an improved defense, these Packers are a very tough team.

Another nice storyline: This would be a rematch of Super Bowl XXXII, John Elway's first championship and one of the best Super Bowls in NFL history. Once again, a matchup between these two teams would feature two legendary quarterbacks. That makes this a perfect Super Bowl matchup.