Conference Championship Sunday is only one day away, and four teams still have their hopes alive for a Super Bowl title. The Patriots are hosting the Ravens in the afternoon game, and the 49ers are hosting the Giants in the late game.
The four teams remaining provide possible Super Bowl matchups that will be very interesting to watch.
The first one is a rematch of the Super Bowl from four years ago, which featured the Patriots and the Giants. This is arguably one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played, and a rematch would provide another great matchup.
Super Bowl XLII featured a Patriots team that was looking to complete only the second undefeated season in NFL history, with the other being done by the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They took care of the Jaguars, (they were in the playoffs?!?), and the Chargers in the playoffs to win the AFC.
The Giants came in as a wild card team at 10-6 in their first season following the retirement of Tiki Barber. Their path was much tougher than that of the Patriots, as it took them three wins to win the NFC. They did not have much trouble beating the Bucs in the wild-card round but faced a much tougher opponent in Dallas the following week.
The Giants had lost two games to Dallas in the regular season, but found a way to win in the playoffs. The Cowboys were down 21-17 with nearly the whole fourth quarter to score a touchdown, but the Giants’ defense held strong.
In the NFC Championship Game, which turned out to be Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer, the Giants had to go into Lambeau as the underdog to get to the Super Bowl. Lawrence Tynes missed two go-ahead field goals, and the game went to overtime.
The Packers got the ball first, but could not keep it for long. Brett Favre threw his first memorable interception in an NFC Championship game, with the second being against the Saints when he was a member of the Vikings, and the Giants got the ball. Tynes then hit a game-winning field goal to send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
The game was a rematch of a Week 17 matchup, in which the Pats’ won 38-35 to stay undefeated. Both teams had played their starters throughout, even though they had both clinched playoff spots.
The most memorable part of their second meeting came in the last three minutes of the Super Bowl. The infamous “helmet catch” by David Tyree kept the drive alive, and it was finished by a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.
For a complete recap, here is a video of the entire final drive.
The other intriguing matchup would also be a rematch, as the Harbaugh brothers and their respective teams, the 49ers and Ravens, are still alive in the playoffs.
Compared to the possible Giants-Patriots rematch, I find this one less likely to happen. The 49ers are favorites in their game, but the Giants seem unbeatable after easily taking care of the Packers. The Ravens are underdogs in their game, and I find it hard to predict a loss by the Pats’.
If the two teams did meet, it would be a rematch of the game played on Thanksgiving night. It was dubbed the “Harbaugh Bowl”, and could be known as “Harbaugh Bowl I” if they were to meet again.
The score was 6-6 going into the fourth quarter, but ten points in the quarter gave the Ravens the home win. If they were to meet again, I would give the advantage to the 49ers. They seem to have new life on offense and would certainly score more than six points in the Super Bowl.
These two matchups would each provide intriguing storylines for the two weeks leading to the Super Bowl. No matter who plays in the Super Bowl, with these four teams left we know it will be a very exciting, hard-fought game.