The NFL couldn’t be more thrilled about the matchups for each conference championship game. Both contests should be highly competitive and are filled with plenty of intrigue that should attract attention and haul in viewers and ratings. There are no better teams to represent the NFL’s “Final Four,” and there is plenty at stake for each team.
Here’s a look at what a Super Bowl would mean for each team as it relates to the franchise, certain players or even the coaches involved.
Not to make this all about a player over his team, but this is all about Peyton Manning for a couple of reasons. For starters, a second Super Bowl would drastically change Manning’s place in the history of the game.
He is certainly in the conversation for best quarterback of all time, and he is probably already the best regular-season signal-caller in NFL history, but postseason success has always been a gaping hole in his resume. Another championship would go a long way to shutting his critics up.
Furthermore, winning a Super Bowl this season could very well mean that Manning opts to ride off into the sunset at the top of his profession—much like his boss, John Elway.
It’s no secret that Manning has been the engine behind the Denver Broncos machine for the last two years, and a Super Bowl victory could result in drastic changes on the team’s horizon.
For Manning, it would be an enormous addition to his resume and would permanently alter his legacy.
San Francisco 49ers
Winning the 2013 Super Bowl would take the San Francisco 49ers’ franchise tally to six, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most successful team in NFL history.
But it would also have an enormous impact on the current incarnation of the Niners. And it all starts at the top.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh is already regarded as one of the brightest young coaches in the game. A Super Bowl win would remove the adjective “young” from that description.
A title would thrust Harbaugh into the conversation for the best coach in the league. Period.
That may be an inflammatory statement, but it’s not without merit. Bill Belichick is certainly the front-runner for the title of “Best Coach,” and he has the benefit of sustained success, but nobody has been as good as Harbaugh this soon.
He’s the first coach to take his team to the conference championship game in each of his first three seasons. He came one completed pass away from winning the Super Bowl last year, and he has a chance to win it all this season.
A Super Bowl win for Harbaugh’s Niners could set the stage for the greatest coaching career in NFL history.
And that brings me to my next point. This could very well be the beginning for the 49ers. A Super Bowl would elevate Colin Kaepernicks’ stature immensely, and San Francisco has all the makings of a dynasty built on its dominant defense and electrifying young quarterback.
New England Patriots
Much of the San Francisco 49ers discussion revolved around the success of head coach Jim Harbaugh. Be prepared for more of the same right here.
A Super Bowl win for Bill Belichick, given all the injuries his squad has suffered and the relative lack of high-end talent on the roster, would most likely be his greatest achievement.
Belichick’s legacy is already well established, but his career has been somewhat tainted since the Spygate scandal. As we’ve learned in the sports world, winning cures all.
But Belichick hasn’t won since 2004. Getting over the hump again would cement Belichick as the greatest coach of all time and immortalize the hoodie-wearing strategist.
Likewise, another Super Bowl would be yet another feather in Tom Brady’s cap. Brady is already one of the best postseason performers in league history, and another championship would reaffirm his status as the greatest “winner” ever.
For the Seattle Seahawks, a Super Bowl victory would mean pretty much the same thing as it would for the 49ers: the start of a dynasty. Maybe.
Russell Wilson has quickly changed his place in the vaunted quarterback class of 2012. Initially an afterthought, he is right there with Andrew Luck at the head of the class, and a Super Bowl would put him in the driver’s seat for the foreseeable future.
Wilson has already displayed the poise, leadership, accuracy and playmaking ability to be a tremendous quarterback, so a Super Bowl could set him on his path to greatness.
More importantly, however, a Seahawks title could open the door for a decade or so of dominance. Seattle is one of the deepest and most talented teams in the league right now, and we are in store for a tremendous battle between the Niners and Seahawks for NFC supremacy.