Ranking the Possible Super Bowls: From Who Dey-Who Dat to Manning-Favre

Back when I wrote for a site that wasn't this one, I ranked possible Super Bowls before the playoffs began. It was pointless. But it was fun.

It's something I hope you enjoy, too.

Caveats: I'm ranking these mostly based on the on-field component. Storylines and other ancillary notes are also considered, but I'm not going to rank Bengals-Eagles higher than other games just because the names sound similar. Also, I welcome your disagreement in the comments, but know that this is an entirely subjective list.

We begin at the bottom.

36. Jets vs. Cardinals

This is one you watch mostly for the commercials. The last meeting between the teams featured Anquan Boldin's face breaking, though, so there's that. A Darrelle Revis-Larry Fitzgerald duel would be fun. 

35. Jets vs. Saints

We've seen this already this year. The Saints won despite a game effort from Gang Green. And you probably forgot that game happened. It was about as riveting as this description. 

34. Jets vs. Cowboys

Run, run, run the ball, then run the ball some more
DeMarcus Ware hurts Mark Sanchez, and the Jets never score 

33. Ravens vs. Cardinals

It's one of two Bird Bowls, but the far less appealing one. Both teams can throw, but neither is the most explosive in these playoffs, and each defense is inconsistent. Call it the Peter Boulware Bowl: It might sound good, but it will ultimately disappoint. 

32. Bengals vs. Cardinals

This might be Chris Littmann's favorite potential matchup, because it's probably the Bengals' best chance to win. But the chances of either Carson Palmer or Kurt Warner failing would be high. This is also the first game on this list that would produce a first-time Super Bowl winner. 

31. Ravens vs. Packers

The two teams played the one of the most-penalized games in NFL history earlier this year. That wouldn't happen again. But the bad memories of that one cancel out the blah nature of the players involved that would make it a blessedly hype-free tilt. (Well, except the "QBs of the Future!" narrative that would develop.) 

30. Bengals vs. Vikings

The most recent regular-season rematch possible, this one was a blowout the first time. The Chad Ochocinco-Brett Favre battle for the eyes and ears of the media would be a nice subplot. 

29. Jets vs. Vikings

The first possible Favre Bowl is juicier at first blush than upon scrutiny. Both teams run to set up the pass and play good defense, but neither quarterback has been even close to excellent of late. A 20-14 game? Very possible. 

28. Jets vs. Packers

Of course, the second Favre Bowl isn't much better. The league's two best defenses would play, but only one better than average quarterback would. Also, the "QB of the Future" narrative, which would be the B plot to the "schadenfavre", is potentially very obnoxious with Sanchez and Aaron Rodgers involved. 

27. Jets vs. Eagles

I finish the underwhelming Jets matchups with the one that produces the best individual matchup: Revis against DeSean Jackson. That is a superb game within a game. But the teams are mismatched, and the presence of Michael Vick at a Super Bowl will in no way be an unwelcome distraction from the football. 

26. Patriots vs. Cardinals

I suppose Kurt Warner getting another shot at the Pats is interesting; so is Randy Moss passing the torch to Larry Fitz. This game is diminished with both second wideouts hurt, though, and two teams that pass to win would really suffer without Wes Welker and Boldin. 

25. Bengals vs. Eagles

The shadows of death would be on this one: The Bengals have the late Chris Henry and Mike Zimmer's wife to play for, while the Eagles have late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's initials on their helmets. The Ochocinco-Jackson subplot would probably be highly entertaining. 

24. Bengals vs. Cowboys

Cedric Benson plays a team from Texas! Tony Romo gets a chance to go to Miami! Two teams that just don't fit play an average Super Bowl!

23. Bengals vs. Packers

We've seen this one before, too, but it was a good game: Antwan Odom had five sacks in their Week 2 tilt, and Rodgers was harassed all day, but the game remained close until the end. (Plus, I would get to taunt Littmann for two weeks before the game, and then six months afterward.) 

22. Ravens vs. Cowboys

This would be the Small School Stars Bowl, and bring with it puff pieces on Miles Austin, Romo, Ware and Joe Flacco. And yet, it would be decided by both teams' packs of running backs. 

21. Ravens vs. Eagles

The second Bird Bowl would also be an aerial battle. And each team's defense can be good. But something about this reeks of letdown. Maybe it's all the Big East alumni? 

20. Bengals vs. Saints

Who Dey! Who Dat! Reggie Bush cheering from the sideline as Drew Brees lays waste to the Cincy secondary! 

19. Ravens vs. Saints

I've yet to mention that any Ravens Super Bowl means Ray Lewis gets to go back to Miami, where he played his college football. It also means that Ray Lewis is playing in another Super Bowl in Florida. And that last one ended so well for him, too. 

18. Ravens vs. Vikings

Might be worth it just to get the anguished posts from Uni Watch's Paul Lukas, no fan of purple. If you want truly smashmouth stuff, Adrian Peterson against the Ravens' front seven and the Ravens' backs trying to penetrate the Williams Wall will be good. 

17. Patriots vs. Vikings

A study in opposites: Pyrotechnic passing game against rugged running game, young defense against old defense, quarterback the media love and fans loathe against, er, quarterback media love and fans loathe. Rats. Thought I had something there. 

16. Patriots vs. Saints

Seen it before: The Saints win. But this would at least give these Saints a chance to take back the New Orleans mojo Bill Simmons claimed for the Pats. That's enjoyable. 

15. Patriots vs. Cowboys

America's Team against the Patriots would produce vats of vitriol for two teams that generate plenty of antipathy. But it would at least be a good game, despite storylines that would suffocate: Dallas has the talent, and New England would have plenty of schemes for Romo. 

14. Chargers vs. Cardinals

You may have noticed that the Chargers and Colts have not shown up on this list to this point. This is because they are both absurdly fun to watch. And a Chargers-Cards shootout would be just one of many great games involving the AFC's best. 

13. Patriots vs. Eagles

The first of just three Super Bowl rematches possible, this one pits two teams in the twilight of long runs against each other. It would also be one game in which neither coach wants to run. Ever. 

12. Patriots vs. Packers

End of one era, beginning of another? Lots of 3-4 goodness from veteran defenses, too, and Charles Woodson can get a bit of revenge for the Tuck Game. 

11. Colts vs. Cardinals

Peyton Manning vs. Warner is nice. But this one gets bonus points if any producer can find Edgerrin James gritting his gold fronts somewhere and ask him how it feels to be out of football as this game takes place. 

10. Chargers vs. Packers

Great game in 2007, and wonderful potential shootout in 2009. The reanimated corpses of LaDainian Tomlinson and Ahman Green could have a lively cross-field chat from their respective exercise bikes. 

9. Colts vs. Cowboys

Last Super Bowl rematch, and least appealing off the field: Do we really need to be convinced that Manning and Romo are nice guys? Is their excellence at football not enough? 

8. Chargers vs. Cowboys

An intriguing regular season reset, and a match of the hottest teams in their respective leagues. Plenty of schadenfreude for those who hate Philip Rivers and Romo, too. 

7. Colts vs. Eagles

All sorts of big-play potential, but I really just want to see how Jim Caldwell will outcoach Andy Reid. 

6. Colts vs. Packers

The Heartland (or Heart Disease) Bowl. Can you imagine Packers and Colts fans descending on Miami at the same time? South Beach might turn into the South Bay. (Oh, and the Manning-Rodgers competition? Gold.)

5. Chargers vs. Eagles

Great offenses, and the great chance that Jeremiah Trotter and Shawne Merriman will engage in some preposterously stupid sack dance competition. But, mostly, great offenses. 

4. Chargers vs. Vikings

Do you remember how exciting their last game was? Sure, it wasn't a "great" game, but both teams showed up. And both teams are better now. 

3. Chargers vs. Saints

If you can handle two weeks of Drew Brees talk, the two best passing games in the league will put on a show. 

2. Colts vs. Vikings

Manning vs. Favre vs. America's collective sanity, sure. But wouldn't the game, Manning attempting to beat probably the most talented team in the league with his otherwise anonymous Colts, and Favre's last hurrah coming against his heir, be dramatic? Yep. 

1. Colts vs. Saints

Drama, though, takes a back seat to entertainment. And this is the one we want, feel-good stories all over the sidelines and great football on the field to back it up.


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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