The Conference Championship games are set, and just four teams remain in the NFL playoffs. This leaves four possible matchups for Super Bowl 55/LV, each with distinct storylines and ramifications […]
The Conference Championship games are set, and just four teams remain in the NFL playoffs. This leaves four possible matchups for Super Bowl 55/LV, each with distinct storylines and ramifications for NFL history.
All four teams have a legitimate shot at hoisting the Lombardi trophy, and each one employs a high-scoring offense behind a big-name quarterback. Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is actually the only quarterback of the bunch not to have won a Super Bowl before. Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes will each be seeking their second, while Tom Brady will look to extend his quarterback record with a seventh Super Bowl title.
In ranking the best potential matchups, I considered some of the following factors:
Storylines and Ramifications: What will the narrative be when the two teams meet? Is there history between the teams or specific players? Are Hall of Fame careers on the line, or are dynasties waiting to be built?
League Parity: The freshness of the game’s participants. Have they been here before, or is their appearance a novel and refreshing sight?
Competitiveness: How close will the game be? Is there a clear favorite, or is it more of a toss-up?
With these qualifying factors in mind, here are the potential Super Bowl 55 matchups ranked from best to worst.
4. Buffalo Bills Vs. Green Bay Packers
First and foremost, all four matchups would be a treat for NFL fans, as no unworthy teams exist in the NFL’s final four. A matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers would pit two great teams with two incredible fanbases against each other. It would also pit two quarterbacks against each other who are both likely to finish very high in MVP voting: Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen.
In terms of league parity, this is perhaps the best matchup. The Bills have never won a Super Bowl, infamously appearing in but losing four straight from 1991 to 1994. Likewise, Allen has never appeared in a Super Bowl before. Green Bay is a little more fortunate: a storied franchise with four Super Bowl titles under their belt. However, Rodgers has played in (and won) just one Super Bowl so far in his Hall of Fame career. While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2002, seeing Tom Brady hoist the Lombardi Trophy wouldn’t exactly be a unique sight. For that reason, and with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs winning last year, a Bills-Packers Super Bowl would be the most refreshing possibility for the league.
Still, this possible Super Bowl matchup only comes in at #4: not because it’s a bad one, but simply because the other three possibilities would have higher stakes and juicer storylines that would have larger implications on NFL history.
On the field, this would likely be a high-scoring game between two gun-slinging quarterbacks. I would expect the Packers to be favored by 2.0 to 4.0 points.
3. Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Green Bay Packers
It’s hard to believe this is only the third-best potential Super Bowl matchup. The Chiefs are attempting to defend their Super Bowl title, and Patrick Mahomes will be looking for his second Super Bowl win in just three full seasons as an NFL starter. Make no doubt, back-to-back championships (which hasn’t been done in the NFL since the Patriots did it in 2004-2005,) would mark the beginning of a Chiefs dynasty.
In this matchup, the Chiefs would take on their worthiest opponent yet in the NFC’s top-seeded Green Bay Packers. The Packers rolled to a 13-3 record in the regular season, and Rodgers tossed 48 touchdown passes in a likely NFL MVP campaign. The Rodgers-Mahomes would be almost as juicy as they get.
Even though Rodgers is the most talented remaining quarterback in the NFC, there’s still one with a little more star power and a bit more intriguing of a storyline: but more on that later.
The stakes would be higher here, with both quarterbacks competing for their second Super Bowl title and the Chiefs seeking back-to-back Super Bowl wins. The matchup would also be incredibly close on the field. The Chiefs would likely be favored (perhaps by 2.5 to 4.5 points,) but at the end of the day, it could be anyone’s ball game in a shootout. Both teams can play a bit of defense, so I don’t think it would be insanely high scoring. Which ever team has the last chance to score may have the best chance to win this potential matchup.
Packers-Chiefs would also be a rematch of the very first Super Bowl, which Green Bay won 35-10 in 1967.
2. Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The stakes have already been laid out for the Chiefs, but having a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback on the other side changes everything. Tom Brady is already the most decorated quarterback of all-time, but a seventh Super Bowl title, as well as the ability to take s second franchise to the promised land in just one year, would further cement Brady’s status as the best to ever play the position.
But if the Chiefs win? Mahomes’ career would start to mirror that of a young Brady, racking up two championships by the age of 25. At that pace, Mahomes could conceivably win six or seven Super Bowls of his own by the time he retires. In this sense, this potential Super Bowl matchup could be a tipping point in Brady’s ability to hold to his lead in Super Bowl wins as a starting quarterback. A loss would hardly be detrimental to Brady’s reputation, but it would lower his Super Bowl record to 6-4.
This matchup ranks highly on star power alone: Mahomes vs. Brady is plenty of reason to tune in, even for casual NFL fans. Two of the biggest names in the game: one a young phenom, the other a seasoned veteran who was once a hotshot himself. Brady is also one of, if not the most, polarizing players in the NFL, meaning whether he has fans or haters, almost everyone has an opinion on the quarterback. Also, Brady beat Mahomes in overtime to reach the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Mahomes hasn’t gotten the chance to avenge that playoff loss, as he didn’t meet the Patriots on his way to last year’s Super Bowl win. The only way for a rematch now would be in the Super Bowl.
Ideally, as in with all these matchups, a fun, high-scoring affair would break out. However, while Tampa Bay’s offense has the ability to score in bunches, they don’t score with the ease and consistency that Kansas City does. The Buccaneers have been prone to a couple dud games this season, while the Chiefs tend to score over 20 points even in their off games.
Brady and the Buccaneers will have overcome three road playoff games to get here, as well as victories over Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Still, with a 14-2 record, the dominant Chiefs would be favored by 3.5 to 5.5 points.
1. Buffalo Bills Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This final potential Super Bowl matchup wouldn’t have either of the top-seeded teams from each of the league’s conferences, but it remains the most intriguing possibility of them all. Here, we have Tom Brady seeking his seventh Super Bowl title, over a foe he’s faced many times over the years: the Buffalo Bills.
Again, Allen would be looking to lead the Bills to their first ever Super Bowl title, but this time over the franchise’s most bitter enemy for the past two decades.
In terms of stakes, the Chiefs-Buccaneers matchup probably supersedes this one, with the establishment of a Chiefs dynasty on the line. In this game, a loss would hardly tarnish the legacy of Allen or Brady.
But Bills-Buccaneers still tops this list for a few reasons. While we’ve established Brady is a frequent player in the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers haven’t reached the big game since 2002 and Buffalo hasn’t since 1994. This matchup would be a rare opportunity where two franchises have the chance to end a championship drought. Also as mentioned earlier, Brady is both the most loved and hated player in the NFL, and he’s instantly recognizable. This immediately puts fans in one of two positions: rooting for Brady to win his seventh title, or viewing him as the villain or gatekeeper, attempting to ruin Buffalo’s dreams once again.
While I don’t think the Bills would be underdogs (they’re the better team,) it still would feel like David taking down Goliath if Allen and the Bills could knock off Brady and the Buccaneers on the NFL’s biggest stage.
The last reason this potential matchup tops this list is it’s potential to be a close game and go either way. While Chiefs-Buccaneers could be close (and has been in the regular season,) there is a noticeable gap between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. That gap is much smaller between the Bills and Buccaneers, and with Brady’s playoff pedigree, that gap may even be non-existent. I think this Super Bowl matchup would be a toss-up, unless either team ended up being favored by 0.5 to 1.5 points. It would be the most fun matchup from a fan perspective, and as such, it’s the matchup I’m rooting for to see on February 7.
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