I thought there was a chance that we would have three close, competitive games and one boring blowout last weekend during the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. I thought the games between the Saints-Cardinals, Cowboys-Vikings, and Colts-Ravens would all come down to the final quarter. The Chargers-Jets game I was pretty sure would be an easy victory for San Diego.
Hmm…yeah, about that…
I tell you this in an effort to be up front about the fact that while I was pretty accurate at predicting things during the regular season (57% against the spread), my radar has been way off for the playoffs (2-6 record).
Still, that is not going to stop me from trying, and I have already submitted my Conference Championship Sunday picks: Colts to win and cover, Vikings to cover and probably win. This would give us a Super Bowl matchup between the Colts and Vikings that would be quite compelling.
But how compelling would an Indy-Minnesota (aka Favre-Manning, let’s be honest) matchup be in relation to the other three possible Super Bowl matchups?
In this post, I have ranked the possible Super Bowl matchups 1-4, in my opinion, from most favorable to least favorable. At the end of this post, I’ve given you an opportunity to vote on which Super Bowl matchup you’d most like to see. Please feel free to disagree. That’s why we’re here. I look forward to a healthy debate in the comment section.
#1 – Indianapolis Colts vs Minnesota Vikings
If these four potential Super Bowl matchups were South Park characters, Colts-Vikings would be Eric Cartman. Why? Because you simply have to respect the authoritah of the quarterback matchup this game would present:
- The only 4-time NFL MVP versus one of only two players (the other being Johnny U.) to win three NFL MVP awards.
- The most statistically accomplished passing quarterback in NFL history versus the guy who will most likely retire one day as the most statistically accomplished passing quarterback in NFL history.
- Two quarterbacks who are already in the discussion of the top 10 quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, and possibly already the top 5.
I am speaking, of course, about Curtis Painter and Tarvaris Jackson. Or…not.
No, I am, of course, talking about the incomparable Peyton Manning and the indomitable Brett Favre. Seeing these two men on the same field, playing at the absolute top of their games, with a Super Bowl title on the line, would just be unbelievable.
(The only drawback to this matchup, as you can see from the picture to the right, is the possibility that they could stare adoringly at eachother a little too long and spontaneously start making out during postgame handshake. But since it’s a pretty remote possibility, I won’t knock Colts-Vikings out of the top spot.)
In fact, because of the magnitude of a Manning-Favre meeting in the Super Bowl, you could pretty much throw away every other storyline this game could offer. Despite the other incredible players who would be on the field – Adrian Peterson, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis, Jared Allen and the Williams Wall, Brad Childress’ customer service headset, Jim Caldwell’s blank steely stares – this game would need nothing else.
The Favre-Manning matchup would imbue this Super Bowl with enough historical gravitas for five Super Bowls.
In a league that is renowned for being “all about the quarterback,” it is impossible to pass this game up as the #1 choice for Super Bowl Sunday.
#2 – Indianapolis Colts vs New Orleans Saints
You could probably go back in time, season by season, and be hard-pressed to find a more compelling quarterback matchup than what we’d see with Manning and Favre on the same field for a Super Bowl. So even though I’m sure a lot of Jets fans think the best of the potential Super Bowl matchups is New York versus Minnesota, with Brett Favre facing the team he played for last season, they probably still understood my reasoning for putting Colts-Vikings at #1.
But I bet most of the Jets fans are ready to click to another page after seeing that I don’t have Jets-Vikings at least in the #2 slot. (More on that game in a bit.)
I’ve chosen Indy-New Orleans as my #2 most desirable Super Bowl matchup because, again, it’s the better quarterback matchup. Nothing against Mark Sanchez, who is proving to be a man among poise, but Drew Brees is one of the most underrated and underappreciated football players of the last decade. Look at Brees’ career stats and his year-to-year consistency. It’s impressive, to say the least.
Drew Brees has been a terrific football player for a long time in the NFL despite constantly battling criticisms that he is too short or doesn’t have a strong enough arm. He will erase every negative that’s ever been said or thought about him and step into the pantheon of great, potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks with a Super Bowl victory.
Moreover, a win would mean that Brees and Saints head coach Sean Payton would have authored the most uplifting and exciting chapter in the post-Katrina reclamation project of one of the United States’ most historic and now downtrodden cities. Even the most heartless, cut-throat Jets, Colts, or Vikings fan would have to at least feel some tinge of satisfaction at seeing the city of New Orleans be able to celebrate a Super Bowl title.
So why Saints-Colts and not Saints-Jets? Well, the only natural storyline even worth mentioning if the Jets go to New Orleans is that they played earlier this year. Whoop-de-do.
If the Colts go to the Superdome, Peyton Manning goes back to the city where his dad was and still is a hero, a city where he and Eli grew up, and a city that they have also helped to rebuild. Drew Brees is obviously the #1 son of the city of New Orleans right now, but Peyton would be the city’s adopted favorite if the Saints falter in the NFC Championship Game.
Putting Manning and Brees on the same field, leading two explosive offensive attacks, would make for a scintillating Super Bowl in many more ways than one. So I’m sorry Jets fans, but your QB is too young, you don’t have enough star power, and there are no inherent ties to the city of New Orleans for you to get into the top 2.
But, remember, you have your chance to vote below; please do not hesitate to do so.
Now let’s move on to rank the 3rd and 4th most desirable games. Based on what I said earlier about Jets fans probably assuming that New York-Minnesota would at least be in the top 2 because of the Favre-Jets storyline, I may surprise you with my pick at #3.
#3 – New York Jets vs New Orleans Saints
#4 – New York Jets vs Minnesota Vikings
I know that I’ve spent this entire post fawning over the potential Manning-Favre or Manning-Brees QB battles in my top two choices. I’m a quarterback guy and love seeing great field generals going head-to-head. I understand if you disagree, but I come by that bias honestly as someone who dreamed of playing the position when I was a kid.
That said, don’t think for one second that I don’t appreciate what the Jets have done and how they play.
The Jets are old school in every positive sense of the word, right down to their vintage Super Bowl III uniforms. They have a coach who is entertaining, insightful, and accomplished. He is also the quintessential emotional leader who can make a good football team play great and can captivate fans and the media alike.
Simply put, Rex Ryan is the 2010 version of Mike Ditka.
The Jets also have an absolutely outstanding individual player in Darrelle Revis who has done his job every bit as well as Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees have done theirs this season, if not better. Revis just happens to play a position that is not quite as important in the overall equation of winning as quarterback and that is far, far less visible. But watching Revis go up against Marques Colston and Sidney Rice would be very compelling.
New York, of course, also has Mark Sanchez. And while I think Sanchez is being propped up and made out to be playing better than he is while being the caretaker of a great running game and defense, you can’t fault the kid for doing what is asked of him. He’s not ready to win games yet for the Jets, but he has at least shown that he’s talented enough and mature enough not to lose them. For a rookie QB making his first foray into the playoffs, can you really ask for anything more?
So don’t view my ranking the games involving the Jets at #3 and #4 as a personal statement by me that I don’t appreciate what they’ve done to get this far. I do. But when it came down to ranking these potential Super Bowl matchups, one nagging possibility kept popping up: of the four teams left in the playoffs, the one with the greatest chance to be blown out and create a boring Super Bowl is the Jets.
Yes, their defense is great, but even great defenses can give up big plays here and there. If that were to happen, the Jets simply are not built to put up big point totals trying to come from behind. We’ve seen Mark Sanchez throw a lot of picks in a short period of time this season, and no Jets fan wants to see a situation in which Sanchez is forced to throw more than 20 times.
In a one game situation, things can snowball even on solid, conservative teams. I want excitement and drama in my Super Bowl, and the Jets are the team with the most glaring potential to steal that away from us all if their defense is not as great as it can be and their young QB can’t hang with the likes of Favre or Brees.
So why Jets-Saints over Saints-Vikings? It comes down to the annoyance factor.
All Super Bowls have annoying storylines that get old after a day or two, and then get really old after being dragged out for two weeks. If the Colts make it, we’ll get sick of hearing about how they gave up on a 14-0 season. If the Saints make it, we’ll probably get sick of hearing about the love affair between Drew Brees and the city of New Orleans. If the Jets make it, we’ll be fed an endless loop of a goofily smiling Mark Sanchez that will make us all long to punch him in the face. And if the Vikings make it, well, all we need to say is one word: Favre.
But if the Jets and Vikings end up playing in the Super Bowl, the Brett Favre overload will simply be unbearable. I’m not sure how many different ways the media can discuss Favre’s one year with the Jets and what it would mean that he’d be facing them in the Super Bowl, but I bet it’s in the thousands and I bet the media would report every single last one of them.
Additionally, the comparisons between Favre (he has fun!) and Sanchez (he has fun and gets chicks too!) will make us all hate both of them by the time kickoff comes around. We’ll all be secretly praying that they both sprain their ankles during the pregame so that we can see Kellen Clemens and Tarvaris Jackson and escape the Favre-Sanchez obsession.
Does it have the potential to be a great game? Sure. It would be a great contrast of styles and there would be lots of great individual matchups to watch. The problem is that this is also the one matchup that would create serious Brett Favre overload – far more than a Colts-Vikings matchup because of the Favre-Jets angle – and I’m just not sure any of us are ready to deal with that for two entire weeks.
So there are my rankings of the potential Super Bowl matchups. Now I want your opinion. Answer the poll question below so we can get a composite ranking of MSF readers, then chime in with a comment if you want to rank them 1-4.
Which of the potential Super Bowl matchups would be your #1 choice?
- Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings (47%, 836 Votes)
- Indianapolis Colts v New Orleans Saints (30%, 536 Votes)
- New York Jets v Minnesota Vikings (15%, 271 Votes)
- New York Jets v New Orleans Saints (8%, 137 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,779
* – Peyton Manning / Brett Favre photo credit: Matt Kryger, The Indianapolis Star
* – Drew Brees photo credit: Boston.com
* – Rex Ryan photo credit: AP via New York Post
* – Brett Favre w/ Jets photo credit: DavidTheiss.com
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