As we look forward to the divisional round of the playoffs, we're starting to see who's a legitimate contender and who got lucky during the regular season. We've seen the usual suspects like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos perform in the playoffs over a long period of time now, but it's the new blood in the playoff race that make things interesting. There's a handful of possible matchups for Super Bowl XLVIII, but a smaller handful of those would truly be great games.
A lot goes into deciding what makes a great game—I mean, there's much to consider. There's some games that would be a matching of great offenses and defenses.
Then there's games like the Indianapolis Colts versus the San Francisco 49ers that would pit two former colleagues, or rather partners, in Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh. Both have had great success in the NFL since leaving the college ranks, and it would be fun to see the teacher and student in a Miyagi-grasshopper sense.
There's a ton of great potential games, but few have a good likelihood of happening.
Met during regular season: New England 30, New Orleans 27
A championship game featuring the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints would be a tremendous game for a number of reasons. First of all, it would feature two of the best, most decorated quarterbacks that the NFL's ever had in Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Both offenses utilize the pass the majority of the time, so there'd definitely be a chance for a high-scoring game. The two franchises are also relatively recent Super Bowl winners and boast improved defenses since their last deep run.
A game displaying Brady and Brees' respective squads could also throw Brees into the conversation for the best quarterback of all time. A big performance against three-ringed Bill Belichick and another Lombardi trophy would surely put Brees right in the mix for being considered the best passer of all time.
Did not meet in regular season
This wouldn't be the first time Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have led their teams to the big game as they squared off in 2009, when the former was still with the Indianapolis Colts. A second meeting between two of the game's most talented quarterbacks is a rich storyline in itself.
This sure-shootout would likely set records for combined passing offense in a Super Bowl and would surely be an exciting game to watch for all concerned.
Met during regular season: Indianapolis 34, Seattle 28
The 2012 draft class boasted several talented passers, but none have been quite as impressive as Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Both quarterbacks led their team to the playoffs in their rookie season and followed that up with matured numbers in 2013, showcasing their growth as stars in the NFL.
The Colts are riding high off of an incredible comeback last weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Luck flexed his poise and his veteran leadership skills as just a sophomore in the league. With that momentum, they could ride it all the way to the championship, where the favored Seahawks would likely be waiting for them.
Although Luck and Wilson's careers will always be linked, this game would decide who was the better option in the draft. Granted, neither team is exactly hurting, but for argument's sake, it'd be fun to see.
Met during regular season: Indianapolis 27, San Francisco 7
In a reunion between college coach and college quarterback, a game featuring the 49ers and Colts would be an awesome one. With the man personally responsible for his growth and development as a quarterback in college on the opposite sideline, Andrew Luck would be in for a very interesting chess match.
Not many guys know Luck better than Jim Harbaugh, and that could become a big factor in this game. Both teams are littered with talent on both sides of the ball, although the Niners hold the advantage defensively. Even so, this would be an exciting matchup for sure.
Did not meet during regular season
It was such a short time between when the Carolina Panthers decided to fire John Fox and when the Denver Broncos decided to hire him, but both teams have clearly benefited from the breakup.
The Broncos have become an AFC powerhouse, bulldozing through the majority of their competition with ease. The Panthers have shifted from an offensively stocky team to a gritty defensive squad of heavy hitters. They have the best front seven in the NFL, and would be a great matchup for Peyton Manning and the rest of Denver's offense.
The NFL's best offense vs. of the NFL's best defenses? Yes, please.
Did not meet during regular season
The clear No. 1 option here, a game showcasing one of the league's greatest veterans and one of it's greatest up-and-comers would be one for the ages. Both quarterbacks have had career years and led their teams on an absolute rampage through their conferences.
It would be the first time two No. 1 seeds faced off since Manning was last in the Super Bowl (XLIV).
As with the Broncos-Panthers matchup on the previous slide, it would be an incredible battle of offense vs. defense in which either team could steal a victory.
It could also be perceived as a passing of the torch from one great quarterback to another as Manning's career winds down and Wilson's hits the upswing.