Nine of the 16 potential Super Bowl matchups would be rematches of past Super Bowls. And if the Green Bay Packers win their next two games, we’ll automatically have a championship rematch. Here’s how we rank all of the potential grand finales.
1. Patriots vs. Seahawks (XLIX rematch): How awesome would it be to have Tom Brady chase that fifth Super Bowl in a rematch of that last year’s thriller? Plus, a third straight appearance for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
2. Patriots vs. Packers (XXXI rematch): That Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers matchup was made in football heaven, especially considering Brady’s quest and the fact we’re coming off of Deflategate.
3. Patriots vs. Panthers (XXXVIII rematch): Tom Brady passes the torch to Cam Newton? Regardless, Newton is a huge potential Super Bowl draw and Brady gunning for a record fifth Super Bowl in his and Joe Montana’s former hood would be fun.
4. Broncos vs. Packers (XXXII rematch): Peyton Manning vs. Aaron Rodgers is really all you need, especially considering the fact this could be Manning’s chance to ride off into the sunset in John Elway fashion. Two beloved teams and two Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
5. Patriots vs. Cardinals: Anything involving Brady and the Pats is gold because the stakes are so high, and you know this would be a competitive game.
6. Steelers vs. Packers (XLV rematch): Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks go toe-to-toe, and you know there would be a ton of points here.
7. Steelers vs. Seahawks (XL rematch): It would be 10 years to the weekend after they met in the 40th Super Bowl. Great quarterback matchup really makes this one, as both Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson become Super Bowl regulars.
8. Steelers vs. Panthers: So much offense, such incredibly strong quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cam Newton is quite a glorious matchup, and this would be a fierce, explosive game. Plus, it would rather quietly be Big Ben’s fourth Super Bowl in 12 years.
9. Steelers vs. Cardinals (XLIII rematch): They put together a hell of a show in 2008. This time, both offenses are even more explosive and both defenses are somewhat vulnerable. Tons of potential here, especially because these teams have so many front-office and player connections.
10. Broncos vs. Seahawks (XLVIII rematch): It was a bit of a dud two years ago, but you’ve got quite possibly Peyton’s final chance and a third straight Super Bowl for Russell Wilson. Also an incredible defensive matchup.
11. Broncos vs. Panthers: A battle of the two top seeds, and a chance for Peyton Manning to salvage his legacy against a young quarterback trying to launch an incredibly promising career. Would also be a great defensive matchup, but there’s a risk Denver could get blown out again.
12. Broncos vs. Cardinals: A nice old-man quarterback matchup and two great defenses. I again fear the blowout potential with Denver so fragile, but legacies would be up for grabs here.
13. Chiefs vs. Packers (I rematch): Kind of cool that this would be a rematch of the first Super Bowl, but that novelty will wear off quickly if Green Bay dominates a rather boring Kansas City team. This gets a few extra points for pitting 2005 draft peers Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers against each other.
14. Chiefs vs. Seahawks: The only draw here is the fact Seattle will be playing in its third straight Super Bowl.
15. Chiefs vs. Panthers: Even on a 13-game winning streak, Kansas City just isn’t enough of a draw. But this game can be saved by Newton.
16. Chiefs vs. Cardinals: Arizona is a fun team, but neither market is sexy. This would be a worst-case scenario for the NFL.