Enough of the previews, predictions, power rankings and all those other NFL Playoff topics right now. Let's focus on the pinnacle and goal what every team is striving for.
The Super Bowl.
With six teams in each conference, there are 36 distinct possible Super Bowl match-ups.
Now, these aren't a ranking of the best teams, or the teams that have the best chance of getting to the Super Bowl, although you will see the best teams in each conference at the top.
They are rather a ranking of the most compelling Super Bowl match-ups, and those consist of better teams.
That is why you will see the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, and Falcons near the top.
I'm sorry if you're a Kansas City or New York Jets fan, you probably won't like this list. But I can't make everyone happy. I don't know of anyone except for you that wants either of those teams in the Super Bowl.
I know that a lot of you will disagree with most of this list. I am not claiming this as fact, this is just an opinion, and a place where you can see all the distinct Super Bowl match-ups.
You will see a common thread in these rankings. The first games I mention are games featuring teams that I just don't think anybody wants to see in the Super Bowl.
The second set of games feature good teams, but they looked at as defensive battles.
I personally love defensive games, but you as a nation would rather see points on the board, not a punting war.
The third set of games feature the best teams, and the games that will have the most compelling story lines.
For an article featuring every NFL team's easiest and toughest roads to the Super Bowl, click here.
I will be updating this list at the conclusion of every game of the NFL Playoffs until we get down to the final match-up where the Super Bowl will be decided.
Plain and Simple, we don't want to see a team that won seven in the regular season in the Super Bowl. But it's not like there's a chance that the Seahawks will get to the Super Bowl anyways.
Do you really want to see Matt Hasselback lead a team out onto the field in Dallas?
I know this guy doesn't.
But regardless, we want to see the New Orleans Saints beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. That way, we will only have to watch this team once in the playoffs.
And that is one more game than we want to see them in.
Prediction: Any AFC Team over the Seattle Seahawks
Like I said, if you area Chiefs or Jets fan, you really won't like this ranking.
But this game between the Bears and Chiefs just wouldn't be must-watch television. Yes, you'll watch because it's the Super Bowl, but this just wouldn't be a good game.
On paper, and looking at the teams records it might be. Kansas City, the AFC's fourth seed, and Chicago, the NFC's second seed, should be a interesting match-up.
But do you really want to see a Super Bowl match-up featuring Matt Cassel and Jay Cutler.
Prediction: Bears over Chiefs
Sure, two number six seeds making the Super Bowl would be a great story. But do you really want to see Mark Sanchez and the Jets play Aaron Rogers and the Packers?
Some might look at these guys as some of the better younger quarterbacks in the league, but they aren't ready to both shine in the Super Bowl.
Getting here will be hard enough for both teams. They will have to go on the road for three straight weeks and win against a better opponent.
I don't see this game happening, just like NFL fans don't want to see this match-up in the Super Bowl
Prediction: Packers over Jets
Maybe that it's just that I don't want Mark Sanchez to be in the Super Bowl, and that's why the Jets have already been mentioned twice.
I am not trying to take anything away from Sanchez, but he isn't good enough to play in a Super Bowl ... yet. Now, he could reach that level, but just not right now.
On the other hand, a Jets-Saints match-up just wouldn't be that interesting. You'll have the defending Super Bowl Champions, but on the other side you have Rex Ryan, Rex Ryan, and Rex Ryan. Sure he would be great in his press conferences leading up to the game, but the Jets aren't a team that we want to watch in Dallas.
Prediction: Saints over Jets
Yes, I don't want to see Kansas City in the Super Bowl.
I know they are a good team, and their record shows that, but I don't really think that there is anything about this team that makes them a Super Bowl team right now.
But they are a young team, and I think looking forward they might have a shot, but just not this year.
The Chiefs are good, but people would rather see the Colts, Ravens, Steelers, or Patriots in the Super Bowl than them.
The Saints are just a casualty of this.
Sure a New Orleans run at another Super Bowl would be interesting, we just don't want to see them play the Chiefs to determining who's World Champions.
Prediction: Saints over Chiefs
I know they are good, but outside of Kansas City does anyone know how good this team is? Would Kansas City really make a compelling Super Bowl match-up regardless of the team they play?
I really don't think so. When the Chiefs get beat, they get beat and it's bad.
I'm not trying to take anything away from the three seed or their record, but this isn't a team I want in the Super Bowl.
And it's not like Green Bay is a sexy team either. Their defense is good, but their offense has been banged up.
Sure, either team is capable of making the Super Bowl, they have the talent to make it happen. I just don't see this being a compelling match-up.
Prediction: Packers over Chiefs
Sure they played an exciting game earlier in the year, but this just isn't a game we want to see again. I can think of a lot of Super Bowl rematches better than this one.
The answer to your question about whether I want to see Mark Sanchez in the Super Bowl isn't really a question. It is more of a statement.
I don't want to see Mark Sanchez in the Super Bowl, or at least not this year.
When he goes out and becomes a consistent quarterback then I would consider wanting the Jets to play in the Super Bowl.
Again, Chicago is just another casualty to the Jets. This is more about not wanting the Jets in the Super Bowl as opposed to Chicago.
But the bottom line is this rematch just really wouldn't be that good in comparison to the later match-ups.
There are about 3-4 teams in each league that people would rather see in the Super Bowl than the Jets and Bears.
Prediction: Bears over Jets
Matt Ryan vs. Mark Sanchez; 25-year-old vs. 24-year-old.
Sure these quarterbacks are some of the best young guns out there, but this just isn't a match-up we want to see...right now.
In a couple years expect both of these quarterbacks to lead their teams to Super Bowls.
But this just isn't a match-up we want to see in Dallas in 2011.
There are a lot more compelling match-ups than this one, and as you read on, you will realize that this was actually pretty difficult to put one game ahead of another.
Prediction: Falcons over Jets
Let's all be honest to ourselves.
Regardless of what your personal feelings are about Mike Vick right now, you want to see him in the Super Bowl.
But you just don't want to see him play Matt Cassel and the Chiefs.
We want to see him match-up against the ones that have won Super Bowls—Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger.
Nothing against what the Chiefs have done this year, but we as a nation, just don't want to see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
Now, could they get there?
Absolutely, but we would rather see the Colts, Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots.
Prediction: Eagles over Chiefs
Again, we want to see Mike Vick in the Big One but we just don't want to see him play Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.
Everyone can admit that the Steelers, Ravens, Colts, and Patriots are all more compelling opponents for the Philadelphia Eagles.
I just don't see the New York Jets as a compelling Super Bowl opponent for any NFC team.
I am not saying that there is no chance of them making it, but there are just better match-ups out there.
Prediction: Eagles over Jets
This has the makings of being a great game but the media just won't recognize it as such.
The Falcons have flown under the radar in the NFC and the Chiefs have done the same in the AFC.
The majority of talk about the NFC so far has been about the Eagles, Packers, and Bears.
Near the end of the season all the talk was about how the San Diego Chargers were going to come back and win the division.
This match-up would prove an already factual statement. Games aren't won in the media.
While both teams could reach the ultimate stage, this would be a media nightmare for ESPN and the other outlets. They just wouldn't know what to do if this was the match-up in Dallas.
Prediction: Falcons over Chiefs
This would be a rematch of Super Bowl XLI, a game which the Colts won 29-17.
There has been no doubt that Peyton Manning has struggled this year, and many people believe that he is reaching the end of his reign as one of the top quarterbacks.
On the other side, we have Jay Cutler. Sure he has the talent, but he is an erratic quarterback at best.
I really don't see either team making it far in their respected conferences because they lack the one thing that is important in making a run to Dallas.
Say what you want to about wanting to see Manning win another Super Bowl, but this just isn't the match-up we want to see them in.
Prediction: Colts over Bears
Chicago fans might ask themselves—
Why rank a Packers-Colts Super Bowl over a Bears-Colts Super Bowl?
The answer is quite simple. The Packers are a more compelling team. They have a better defense, they have a better quarterback, and they have a better offense.
The Packers would just be a more compelling Super Bowl opponent than the Bears.
Now, this isn't saying that the Bears would lose to the Packers, but it is saying that the Packers would be a better fit in the Super Bowl than the Bears.
The Bears are a very good team and they have gone out and shown it with their 11-5 record. They are a team that could make it, but the Packers are the team that America wants to see.
Prediction: Colts over Packers
For this one, just remember the first game between these two teams.
The embarrassment to the game of football the the Bears went out there with. The Patriots are just too good for this game to be interesting at all.
The Patriots have had every teams number this year, so that might not be a fair statement. But the earlier game featuring these teams was borderline unwatchable.
Say what you want to about the conditions, but how much more effective would the Patriots have been in a controlled environment.
I am not saying that the Patriots Super Bowl rings will be designed before this game, but in comparison to the match-ups below, this just isn't one that is compelling.
Prediction: Patriots over Bears
Sure the Ravens and Bears are good teams and their record has shown that they are.
I'm not saying that these teams can't make it, but there are more compelling match-ups out there.
Again, this would be another defensive special. This would be a game where the offenses would struggle.
I don't that my opinion on America wanting offensive teams in the Super Bowl is wrong. We want a lot of points scored in the Super Bowl, we just don't want punts.
For true fans of the game, this would be a great match-up—but just not to the average everyday football fan.
Prediction: Ravens over Bears
If you want to see a great defensive battle, then this is the match-up for you.
The Packers are led by Clay Matthews and the Ravens are still led by Ray Lewis.
This would be as hard-of hitting match-up in the Super Bowl out there.
But if you're a fan of offensive football, this isn't the game for you.
Sure Aaron Rogers and Joe Flacco are some great young quarterbacks, but I don't think they would have much success against the opposing defense.
Maybe it's just me, but America wants to see an offensive battle as opposed to a defensive battle.
We want to see points on the board, not punts.
Prediction: Packers over Ravens
"The Battle of the Hair."
Clay Matthews in one corner and Troy Polamalu in the other.
This game, like most games featuring the Ravens, Steelers, Packers, and Bears, are to me looked at as defensive battles.
These would be games where both defenses would be dominant over the other teams offense.
I would find these match-ups very compelling, but in regards to America, we want to see an offensive showcase in the Super Bowl.
We want to see the Eagles, Patriots, and Falcons.
Prediction: Steelers over Packers
Is Matt Ryan the next Peyton Manning?
I am not saying that he should be mentioned in the same breath as Manning, but should these two meet in the Super Bowl. Would this conversation begin to start?
This would be more of an offensive showcase than those defensive match-ups that I just mentioned.
I could be wrong, but I think America wants to see points in its biggest game, not punts.
I think that this would be a great game, but there are better games that could be played.
Prediction: Falcons over Colts
This would be rematch of their week eight battle which the Saints won 20-10.
Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are both quarterbacks that have won Super Bowls before so they know what it takes to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.
Maybe it's because I'm a Falcons fan, but I just don't want to see the Saints in the Super Bowl again.
I could be wrong, but I think America wants another NFC representative in the Super Bowl this year—and hopefully that's something that the Falcons or Eagles can make sure happen.
This would still be a great game though, each quarterback trying to win another ring would be something special to watch.
It's just not something that I want to see and something that I don't America wants to see either.
Prediction: Steelers over Saints
This would be a rematch of their week 15 match-up which the Ravens won at home 30-24.
The first game was a great game to watch.
Ray Rice was able to gash the Saints defense for 153 yards.
This would be a good rematch, but do people really want to see two wildcard teams in the Super Bowl.
We have shown the ability to root for one wild card team, but could we really handle two of them in the biggest stage.
Do we really want to see two teams that didn't even win their division to play in the Super Bowl?
I'm not saying they aren't good, but we would rather see the Steelers, Patriots, Falcons, Eagles, and Bears.
Prediction: Saints over Ravens
We want to see Mike Vick run around the field and we want to see Ray Lewis chase him.
When you get to these last 10 or 11 match-ups it truly becomes a difficult task to rank these games.
The Ravens don't have the best offense in the NFL, and the Eagles don't have close to the best defense i in the NFL.
But the Ravens have a defense we want to see in a Super Bowl and the Eagles have the offense we want to see.
Even with that said, this game would still be a very entertaining game featuring two of the best teams in the NFL—but then again, so are all of these match-ups from now on.
Prediction: Eagles over Ravens
Here it is. The top 10. These are the games that that we really want to see.
And let's start with a match-up featuring Michael Vick versus Peyton Manning
New school versus old school.
This would be a game featuring the two extremes of quarterback play in the NFL.
Yes, the Colts have struggled, but Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning. He is still someone that we want to see in the Super Bowl.
And we would love to see Manning play Michael Vick and the Eagles in the Big One.
Can Michael Vick truly redefine the definition of a quarterback and lead a team to a Super Bowl with his abilities?
This game would answer all of these questions and then some. This would be a great game to watch.
Prediction: Eagles over Colts
Remember the first match-up between these teams on a Thursday night in primetime.
I know, I was at that game.
The Ravens drive down the field to score a go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left, only to see Matt Ryan connect with Roddy White on a 33-yard, game-winning touchdown.
A rematch would have similar results. These teams are evenly matched as the first game between these two teams.
I am not all for rematches in the Super Bowl, but whether you like it or not, this would be a great game.
Neither team has received the respect that they deserved from the media this year. One thing is for sure is if they reach this stage they won't be ignored.
Prediction: Falcons over Ravens
A rematch of last years' Super Bowl.
Who wins their second ring—Peyton Manning or Drew Brees?
This game would be an offensive shootout because neither of these teams' defense is that good.
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have both struggled this year, but if they reach this stage they will be coming into this game on fire.
They would each be able to pick apart the other teams defense and there would be a lot of points put on this board.
And in the Super Bowl, that is exactly what we want—points.
Prediction: Saints over Colts
Time for the last defensive showcase on this list.
Let me make it clear, that I love defensive battles. Some say that it can't be a good game unless both offenses are in rhythm—but I really do love defensive battles.
But the reason this comes in at number seven is because as a nation you want to see an offensive thriller in the Super Bowl.
This would be a great game. Both quarterbacks have shown that they can shine in big moments—but Big Ben is the one with the rings.
Say what you want to about Jay Cutler, but this guy can be good—and if he reaches the Super Bowl he will prove that to everybody.
I would love this game, but you, as a nation would rather see one of the top six match-ups. It really is hard to go wrong with any game in the top 10-15.
Prediction: Steelers over Bears
Even though the Saints are a five seed, they are still a team that would make a compelling opponent for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Drew Brees and the Saints trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls on one side, and Tom Brady going for his fourth.
This would be a great match-up and a game that we want to see, but then again, so are all of these top ten match-ups.
Tom Brady has shown that he is invincible this past season, while Drew Brees has struggled. But both of these quarterbacks have shown their ability to lead their teams to victories in big time games.
This would be a very big game and one in which both of these quarterbacks will shine.
And that is why it is a very compelling game and it is one that we want to see.
Prediction: Patriots over Saints
Remember the first game between these two teams, and how the Packers played the Patriots tough—with Matt Flynn at QB.
Imagine what a rematch would be like with Aaron Rogers leading the Packers instead of Matt Flynn.
I am not trying to take anything away from what Matt Flynn did, but Aaron Rogers would make this a much better rematch.
And who doesn't want to see the Packers avoid kicking to Dan Connolly. That return a couple weeks ago will be talked about for a while.
Tom Brady already has three rings and Aaron Rogers will be playing for his first.
I don't care that Green Bay is the No. 6 seed and the Patriots are the No. 1 seed, this would be a great game to watch and that is why it comes in at number five.
Prediction: Patriots over Packers
There is a good reason why the games involving both the Patriots or Steelers and the Falcons or Eagles are mentioned in the top four compelling match-ups.
That is because these are the best teams in the NFL and they have proved it so far in the regular season.
I am also under the assumption that people want to see the best teams in the Super Bowl.
I know the Bears beat the Eagles and they have a better record, but I think that the majority of NFL fans would rather see Mike Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the first of these match-ups we have "The Battle of Pennsylvania."
A Steelers-Eagles game would not only be interesting to the state of Pennsylvania, but also to the entire NFL.
There is no one saying that what Vick or Roethlisberger was right, but seeing these athletes make a comeback journey all the way to the Super Bowl would truly be a great story—and I don't care who you are.
Prediction: Eagles over Steelers
This would be a rematch of the first game of the season in which the Pittsburgh Steelers won 15-9 in overtime.
Say what you want to about that being a bad game to watch, but both teams are much improved.
The Falcons have found a running game and the Steelers found Ben Roethlisberger off the suspended list.
Both teams have shown improvement from their first game of the season,
Neither of these teams truly has simply the best offense or the best defense, but these are two of the best teams in the NFL.
Their record proves it, and we want to see two of the best teams in the NFL in the Super Bowl and that is why this match-up comes in at number three.
Prediction: Falcons over Steelers
Picking between the Patriots-Eagles and Patriots-Falcons was a very difficult choice.
But in the end I had to go with the Eagles-Patriots for the most compelling match-up.
What made it harder was my allegiance to the Atlanta Falcons. Call me a homer all you want, but I really do think that people want to see the best team in the NFC in the Super Bowl—the Atlanta Falcons.
I don't care what the people on the major sports networks say, this Atlanta Falcons team is a really good one.
In this game Matt Ryan would truly emerge as a top-tier QB in the NFL if he isn't there already.
Neither of these defenses is anything special.
Prediction: Patriots over Falcons
I really struggled between these two match-ups. Patriots-Eagles and Patriots-Falcons was just too close to call.
The Patriots are the best in the AFC, and the Falcons are the best in the NFC.
But I just have a feeling that people would rather see the top two NFL MVP candidates in the ultimate game.
Michael Vick continues his comeback journey and Tom Brady goes for his fourth Super Bowl ring.
The Patriots-Eagles would truly be must-watch television.
Two completely different styles of QB play would be showcased in this match-up.
Neither defense has shown that they are force to truly be reckoned with, but it's not like we want to see a good defensive battle in the Super Bowl.
As I have said before, we want points, not punts.
This would be a game with a lot of storylines, points, and a game that we want to see in the Super Bowl more than any other game.
Prediction: Patriots over Eagles
What I have done here is compiled the projected records of teams versus all the other conference teams in the Super Bowl should they make it.
For example. New England is listed at 6-0. This means that if they advance to the Super Bowl, I think that they will win against all six possible opponents.
I see the NFC winning in 19 of the 36 possible Super Bowl match-ups.
1. New England Patriots: 6-0
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-2
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-5
4. Indianapolis Colts: 3-3
5. Baltimore Ravens: 2-4
6. New York Jets: 1-5
1. Atlanta Falcons: 5-1
2. Chicago Bears: 2-4
3. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-1
4. NFC West: 0-6
5. New Orleans Saints: 4-2
6. Green Bay Packers: 3-3
For an article featuring every NFL team's easiest and toughest roads to the Super Bowl, click here.