Potential Superbowl match ups
During the winter break, the NFL playoff season suddenly became more exciting.
The Pittsburgh Steelers got “Tebowed” in overtime of the Wild Card Round at the AFC playoffs. The defending champion and 15-1 Green Bay Packers lost in a not-so-surprising upset at the hands of the New York Giants. New passing yards record-holder quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints lost to the upstart San Francisco 49ers.
The remaining teams are the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the Giants, and the 49ers. The drama is palpable among these four teams.
Think back to 2007, when the 18-0 Patriots went into the Super Bowl against the surprise NFC Wild Card Giants. The Patriots were favored by 12.5 points, and there were even shirts being made that commended their undefeated season.
As many probably remember, wide receiver David Tyree of the Giants made “the catch,” where he caught quarterback Eli Manning's pass on the final drive by clamping the ball against his helmet as he hit the ground. This helped the Giants pull off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
If these two teams meet again in the Super Bowl this season, the media hype would be insurmountable. The Patriots would have a chance at redemption and the Giants a chance to put quarterback Tom Brady to shame again.
However, this isn’t the only intriguing potential Super Bowl matchup. How about the battle between coaching brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh? Jim, who coaches the 49ers, is a rookie head coach who has turned the previously laughable team into a potential winner. John, whose coaching tenure is much longer than his brother's, is going for his first ever Super Bowl appearance with the Ravens.
Coincidentally, both teams are built in a similar fashion. The Ravens and the 49ers are built around a great defense, most notably their star linebackers. The Ravens have arguably the most famous linebacker of all time in Ray Lewis, who is not only a defensive leader, but also a spiritual leader in the locker room. He is well known for his introductory dances and pre-game speeches that fire up his teammates.
On the other side of the ball is the 49ers' young linebacker Patrick Willis, who may be the most under-the-radar star in the league. Willis is a physical beast, and in my opinion, the best linebacker in the game right now.
That isn’t the only similarity, though. Both teams have quarterbacks who have been heavily criticized by the media, and even by their own teammates. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was recently called out by teammate and respected leader, cornerback Ed Reed, saying that he needed to get rid of the ball faster and be more decisive.
On the other hand, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith didn’t even have a job before this season, but was signed on to compete for the starting job. If these two teams were to play, one quarterback would have his name etched in NFL history, whether or not he deserves it.
We know that the NFL playoffs are always entertaining to watch. But this season may be one of the most intriguing due to the similarities and histories between the competing teams. Not to mention, few predicted this final four before the season started. Although we don't know who will win the Super Bowl and the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy, we do know one thing — the ride to the top will be exciting.