2011 NFL Playoffs: Ranking All 16 Potential Super Bowl Matchups
After a great weekend of Wild Card action, it is time for another rankings of potential Super Bowl matchups.
After Week 17, I published an article ranking all of the 32 possible Super Bowl matchups. But after the Colts, Chiefs, Saints and Eagles lost, it is time to rethink these rankings.
With eight teams left in the NFL playoff picture, there are 16 possible Super Bowl matchups.
Like my previous ranking, this is not a list of the most probable Super Bowl matchups—simply a ranking of the games that we want to see.
But you will see a trend that the best teams are near the top of this ranking.
I am under the assumption that NFL fans want to see the best teams in the biggest game—and nothing else. But I could be wrong (I don't think I am, though).
I wouldn't mind seeing any Super Bowl matchup not featuring the Seattle Seahawks, and I don't think you would, either.
They had a great win against the Saints, but we just don't want to see them in the Super Bowl. That is why the first four matchups feature the...
13-16. Seattle Seahawks vs. Any AFC Team
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I don't care that Seattle beat New Orleans; we still do not want to see them in the Super Bowl.
And nothing will change that fact. We want to see the Falcons, Bears or Packers represent the NFC, not the 8-9 Seattle Seahawks.
Hopefully, the Bears can beat the Seahawks so that we don't even have to worry about it.
Even if the Seahawks miraculously make the Super Bowl, they will play in one of the worst Super Bowls of all time—and it won't even be close.
Prediction: Any AFC team over the Seahawks
12. Chicago Bears vs. New York Jets
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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 matchups.
There are about three to four teams in each conference that people would rather see in the Super Bowl than the Jets and Bears.
Prediction: Bears over Jets
11. Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets
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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 matchup in the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Packers over Jets
10. Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets
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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 matchup 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 matchup we want to see in Dallas in 2011.
There are a lot more compelling matchups 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
9. Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots
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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 team's 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 matchups below, this just isn't one that is compelling.
Prediction: Patriots over Bears
8. Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens
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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 matchups out there.
Again, this would be another defensive special. This would be a game where the offenses would struggle.
I don't think 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 matchup—but just not to the average everyday football fan.
Prediction: Ravens over Bears
7. Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
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If you want to see a great defensive battle, then this is the matchup for you.
The Packers are led by Clay Matthews and the Ravens are still led by Ray Lewis.
This would be as hard-hitting a matchup in the Super Bowl as any.
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 defenses.
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
6. Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
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"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, looks to me like a defensive battle.
These would be games where both defenses would be dominant over the other team's offense.
I would find these matchups very compelling, but in regards to America, we want to see an offensive showcase in the Super Bowl.
We want to see teams like the Patriots and Falcons.
Prediction: Steelers over Packers
5. Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens
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Remember the first matchup between these teams on a Thursday night in prime time?
I do—I was at that game.
The Ravens drove 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 as 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: If they reach this stage, they won't be ignored.
Prediction: Falcons over Ravens
4. Chicago Bears vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
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 four 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 three matchups. It really is hard to go wrong with any game in the top 10-15.
Prediction: Steelers over Bears
3. Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
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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—that is why this matchup comes in at number three.
Prediction: Falcons over Steelers
2. Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots
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The first game between these teams was a classic—and that was with Matt Flynn at QB for the Packers.
Imagine what a rematch would be like with Aaron Rogers leading the Packers instead of Matt Flynn.
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 two.
Prediction: Patriots over Packers
1. Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
A matchup featuring the best teams in each conference is the game that we want to see.
Matt Ryan, an emerging star, versus the established Tom Brady.
These teams went a combined 27-5 in the regular season. We want to see these teams battle for the Lombardi Trophy in Dallas.
Tom Brady going for his fourth ring, and Matt Ryan going for his first.
Neither of these defenses is anything special, but it's not like we want to see a dominating defense in the Super Bowl, we want to see points scored.
In this matchup there will be a plethora of points scored.
Prediction: Patriots over Falcons
Summary: Projecting Each Team's Super Bowl Record
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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 4-0. This means that if they advance to the Super Bowl, I think that they will win against all four possible opponents.
I see the AFC winning 11 of the 16 possible Super Bowl matchups.
1. New England Patriots: 4-0
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-1
5. Baltimore Ravens: 3-1
6. New York Jets: 1-3
1. Atlanta Falcons: 3-1
2. Chicago Bears: 1-3
4. Seattle Seahawks: 0-4
6. Green Bay Packers: 1-3