Super Bowl 2011: Breakdown, Odds For Four Potential Matchups
Now that the NFL playoff field has been whittled down to four, it’s time to ponder what lies ahead. The conference championship matchups have been determined, and in a week’s time we’ll know who will be playing for a Super Bowl title.
Until then, let’s take a quick skim over each of the four pairings we could be treated to Feb. 6 in Dallas.
Green Bay vs. New York
Why it could be great: Two of the league’s better young quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Mark Sanchez would make for an entertaining duel, as would the Jets’ ground-and-pound attack against a Packers defense that seems to get stingier by the week.
Why it could be awful: There’s always the possibility that history repeats itself. In Week 8, Green Bay and New York slogged through four quarters of football so uninspiring that only the most hardened of purists would applaud. The Packers left The Meadowlands 9-0 winners, but only after the two teams combined to convert nine of 31 third downs and complete only 31 of 72 passes.
Odds of it happening: Actually pretty good, perhaps as high as 75 percent, given each team’s proven ability to win on the road this postseason.
Outcome: Green Bay, 28-20
Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh
Why it could be great: Two of the NFL’s five best defenses, that’s why. Green Bay allowed only 309 yards per game in the regular season, but Pittsburgh, led by 73-year-old defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, was better. The Steelers, ranked second in total defense, surrendered an average of 276 yards. Points would be at a premium, but who cares when both defenses are laying the wood on every series?
Why it could be awful: For the very reason I just mentioned. At what point during a 6-3 Super Bowl do the commercials become more enthralling and amusing than the actual game?
Odds of it happening: Significantly lower than the aforementioned Green Bay-New York matchup. Though it’s away from home, I consider Green Bay’s task to be less arduous than that of Pittsburgh, who tripped out of the gates at home this weekend and now must deal with perhaps the hottest among the four remaining playoff teams.
Outcome: Pittsburgh, 17-14
Chicago vs. New York
Why it could be great: There could be an interesting ebb and flow to this game, not unlike the Bears' 38-34 win over New York in Week 16.
Both offenses have shown big-play ability in the playoffs, but neither defense is interested in giving up much. Perhaps more than any other potential Super Bowl pairing, this one could lull you to sleep, but often games that are played between the 20s and riddled with field position battles are decided by that one unexpected play that makes all the boredom worthwhile.
Why it could be awful: In terms of pregame trash talk, the war of words between Rex Ryan and the mild-mannered Lovie Smith would be a one-sided affair worthy of a 10 on the suck-o-meter. As for the game, the outcome could be determined by Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler and which decides to throw into quadruple coverage the least often.
Odds of it happening: In my mind, the least likely of the four potential Super Bowl matchups. Let’s go with 15-1.
Outcome: New York, 28-14
Chicago vs. Pittsburgh
Why it could be great: Two of professional football’s most storied franchises—Chicago has the most all-time wins; Pittsburgh, the most Super Bowl victories—meet in the title game for the first time. Enough said.
Why it could be awful: Neither offensive line can block air, so it would not be out of the realm of possibility that each defense could rack up six or more sacks. If it were to happen, that’s when you would see Lovie Smith and Mike Tomlin break out their familiar deer-in-headlights look.
Odds of it happening: OK but by no means great. Maybe 5-1. Both teams face tremendously confident opponents next weekend, but the home field advantage will even things out, you would think.
Outcome: Chicago, 20-17