We all love football, but if you aren't in Seattle or Cincinnati, you probably aren't falling over yourself to see a Seahawks-Bengals Super Bowl pairing.
No offense to either of those fanbases intended, but there aren't a ton of connections between the franchises or marquee players to discuss for the two weeks between the Super Bowl and the conference championships.
While that example may not light a fire under the NFL universe, there are four that will. In actuality, there are more than four, but for the sake of time and keystrokes, let's limit it to the most compelling.
Mind you, all of these matchups aren't that likely, but each would have built-in storylines to ponder before the game.
Carolina Panthers vs. Indianapolis Colts
Battle of No. 1 Overall Picks
The last two quarterbacks to be selected No. 1 overall were Cam Newton by the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and Andrew Luck by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. If this game comes to fruition, we'd be seeing a ridiculously fast return on investment for both of these teams.
Less than three years after finishing seasons as the worst in the NFL, the two teams would be poised to contend for a championship. Considering both are in the playoffs as division winners, it already says something about Newton and Luck's impact.
This could turn into one of the biggest inter-conference quarterback rivalries in the league. Naturally, the two have been compared since Luck put up similarly athletic numbers to Newton at the NFL Combine. Following Newton's record-breaking rookie season in 2011, Luck surpassed him in passing yards in 2012.
Even if it doesn't happen this season, with both men just 24 years old, the matchup could certainly happen down the line. Stay tuned to see if this made-for-television movie happens now or later.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith's Revenge
In 2012, the Niners were 6-2-1 after Alex Smith suffered a concussion that forced him to miss two games. Smith had played great in the first 10 weeks and had helped lead the Niners to the NFC Championship game in 2011.
Yet 17 days after he went down with the injury, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh benched him in favor of second-year pro Colin Kaepernick. Kerry J. Byrne of ColdHardFootballFacts.com called Smith "the best quarterback who ever got benched."
Quite frankly, at the time he was benched, Smith was one of the best quarterbacks in football. Period. His numbers were spectacular midway through the 2012 season:
- 153 of 218, 70.2%, 1,737 yards, 8.0 YPA, 13 TD, 5 INT, 104.1 rating
Only 21 quarterbacks have posted a passer rating of 104.0 or better (and they did it a combined 31 times); 15 of those 21 quarterbacks ended up in the Hall of Fame (or will someday soon).
Smith ended up on the sideline holding a clipboard.
ESPN's Jemele Hill had the tweet of the year on the subject.
Many people felt like Byrne did about Harbaugh's decision, but as Kaepernick continued to come into his own—and would ultimately lead the team to the Super Bowl—the naysayers were forced to quiet down.
Meanwhile, Smith played the good teammate, but he did tell Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, "I mean, it sucks. You state your case with your play, and I felt I did that. I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion."
Business is business, and at the end of the season, the Niners shipped Smith to the lowly Chiefs for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft and a conditional pick in the 2014 draft.
The Chiefs were just 2-14 in 2012 and seemed a long shot to make the playoffs, let alone finish 11-5.
Here we are with at least a slim chance to see the Niners past take on its present and future at quarterback.
In all seriousness, San Francisco is a much better bet to reach the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. Kansas City has only beaten one team all season that qualified for the playoffs.
The Niners have won six in a row, and that includes big wins over the Seattle Seahawks and a tough Arizona Cardinals team that the entire NFC is happy fell short of the postseason.
Still, were these two teams to meet in the Super Bowl, the intensity and attention would be another level.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos
Unstoppable Force vs. The Immovable Object
How cool would it be to see the team that allows the fewest points in the league battle the highest-scoring? Pretty friggin' cool.
The Seahawks have allowed just 231 points this season. That's an average of just 14.4 points allowed per game. To put that into proper perspective, NFL teams are averaging 23.4 points per game this season.
In an era that is being dominated by offenses, the Seahawks defense has to be considered one of the best in recent memory.
As good as Seattle's defense has been, the Broncos offense has been just as good. Its 606 points set a single-season scoring record. The total is also 161 points higher than the team in second place.
Peyton Manning set single-season records for touchdown passes with 55 and passing yards with 5,477. This is a pure football storyline that could make for an epic final game.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid Tries to Come Back and Bite the Eagles
The Chiefs are filled with issues of rejection and potential retribution. Philly fired its long-time head coach and Executive Vice President of Football Operations this past offseason after an abysmal 4-12 season. Reid had been with the team since 2001.
He guided the Eagles to five straight NFC title games—six in all—and the team reached the Super Bowl in 2004.
Despite the positive history, Reid was sent packing, and Philly tabbed hot-shot college head coach Chip Kelly from the University of Oregon.
Kelly's spread offense took a while to hit its stride, and his defense was terrible most of the season, but Philly has looked very good the last two weeks. It earned its spot by winning the NFC East in the final game of the year.
This matchup is even more unlikely than the previous one involving the Chiefs, but we'd have fun talking about Reid's motivation to stick it to Philly in the Super Bowl.
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