Last year’s blowout aside, football fans have been treated to some spectacular Super Bowls in recent seasons. All but three Super Bowls since 2008 have been one-possession games, setting the stage for some late drama.
The New England Patriots are largely to thank for that, considering their last six Super Bowls have all been decided by four points or fewer. They’ve played in a couple of classics as of late, including the New York Giants’ miraculous victory over the them eight years ago and the Patriots’ goal-line win over the Seattle Seahawks two years ago.
This year, the Patriots are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl despite Tom Brady’s four-game DeflateGate suspension. The Green Bay Packers are right there with the Patriots, despite last season’s moderately underwhelming 10-6 campaign.
The Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers round out the top five while the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos are seventh.
There are a number of exciting Super Bowl matchups that could happen this season, featuring teams that are heavy on talent and personality. Here at SB Nation, though, it’s not just about which teams will make the Super Bowl. Instead, we want to talk about which teams we want to make the Super Bowl.
Patriots vs. Panthers
This game almost happened last season, but then the Broncos’ defense pulverized Brady in the AFC Championship. Here’s hoping these two clubs get to face off this time.
Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton would be a superstar matchup, with two of the best and most polarizing quarterbacks in the game squaring off against each other. Newton, the reigning MVP, is the most decorated African-American quarterback in history at just 27 years old. His flamboyant on-field antics light up talk radio phone lines, and his dynamic skill set lights up the scoreboard.
The 39-year-old Brady, however, is still at the top of his game. He’s played some of the best football of his career over the last two seasons, throwing for 8,879 yards and 69 touchdowns while averaging a QB rating of 99.9. His duel against Newton would be epic.
Oh, and the shenanigans Gronk gets into would probably be even more entertaining than the game — and that’s saying something. - Alex Reimer
Jaguars vs. Lions
Juggernaut vs. juggernaut is fun and all, but what I’d really enjoy is something fresh and new. I’m tired of the Patriots. I’m tired of the Broncos and the Steelers and the Seahawks. Give me something new.
Better yet, give me two new somethings. Two teams that have never before played in a Super Bowl.
The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions are the only four that have never been to a Super Bowl, so the Lions get my support by default as the only NFC representative.
And the Jaguars get my support because the trio of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns is about as exciting as young offense gets in 2016. (Also, in full disclosure, I just like the Jaguars.)
Cat vs. cat. Maligned fan base vs. maligned fan base. Apathetic Cowboys fans yelling they’re not going to watch because they don’t care about the teams, but then watching anyway because it’s football. I love it. - Adam Stites
Falcons vs. Browns
Some people just want to watch the world burn, and I’m apparently one of them, because the Super Bowl matchup I’d most like to see would be between the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons.
First of all, neither the Falcons nor the Browns have ever won a Super Bowl. Wouldn’t it be nice to see one of these teams make that dream come true for long-suffering Cleveland or Atlanta fans?
The Cavaliers, of course, just won the NBA Finals, finally making good on LeBron James’ promise to bring a championship to Cleveland. But Atlanta fans haven’t experienced the joy of a championship since the 1995 World Series, when the Braves defeated — who else? — the Cleveland Indians.
There might be a little bit of personal bias seeping in here. I grew up in Ohio, and I have many family members and friends who love the Browns despite the fact that the Browns are generally terrible. A Super Bowl win would be an appropriate reward for the decades of disappointment associated with being a Browns fan.
And I’m a Falcons fan, so it would be especially rewarding to see all of the Atlanta fans who clamor for Matt Ryan to be traded because he’ll never be able to get the team a Super Bowl win have to eat their words. - Jeanna Thomas
Cowboys vs. Patriots
Imagine what an insufferable place the world would be for two weeks. And whoever wins, fans of the losing team will never accept it. We’ll have something people are mad about all summer and into the next fall. - Ryan Van Bibber
Texans vs. Cardinals
There’s a perverse part of me that wants to witness the trolliest possible matchup between the Cowboys and the Patriots. Nothing seems more representative of 2016 than the NFL’s two most polarizing teams, both with nauseatingly fervent fans, going up against each other on the biggest stage.
Enough with the cynicism, though. I want the most popular sporting event of the year to give us a matchup where our rooting interest isn’t deciding which is the lesser of two evils. Instead, I want to stew over which team would cause me more agony if I had to watch its players Charlie Brown walk off the field at NRG Stadium, knowing they were tantalizingly close to NFL immortality.
If you are both a TV-phile and a football fan like I am, you might feel a special kinship with the Texans and Cardinals. These two teams invited cameras into their locker rooms and homes, letting us get to know them on a more intimate level than the league normally allows.
As the Rams just reminded us, not every team delivers a compelling season of Hard Knocks. Last year, though, the Texans charmed us with their candor and relatability, led by the potty-mouthed Bill O’Brien. On Amazon’s All or Nothing, the Cardinals won us over with their camaraderie and personality, led by ... the potty-mouthed Bruce Arians.
Let my heart swell for the winner and break for the loser. And warn the FCC, because someone’s dropping an F-bomb. - Sarah Hardy
Browns vs. Washington
Regardless of the actual outcome, the ridiculousness before the game would be absolutely GLORIOUS. - Stephen White
Cardinals vs. Chiefs
I like defense, I like embattled quarterbacks, and I like mustachioed coaches. Andy Reid has paid too many dues to not have a Super Bowl ring as a head coach. Bruce Arians is a likable, foul-mouthed players' coach who has kept the shtick from approaching Rex Ryan levels of grating. Both have built well-rounded teams that are very much in their own images.
I’d be excited as hell to watch David Johnson and Jamaal Charles reel off giant runs, Carson Palmer bomb it, Alex Smith dink-and-dunk, or just Tyrann Mathieu, Justin Houston, Patrick Peterson and Eric Berry blowing up everything, all while Reid and Arians watch from the sidelines like wizened, war-weary walrus commanders. - Louis Bien
49ers vs. Chiefs
After cleansing the rancid stench of the blink-and-you-missed-it Jim Tomsula era, the San Francisco 49ers have brought in Chip Kelly, who since being named Oregon’s head coach in 2009 has won nearly 80 percent of his games when his sole focus is coaching. If he can squeeze 27 TDs against just two picks from Nick Foles, perhaps all hope is not lost for Colaine Kaeperbert.
Riding that QB (hey, Denver winning it all last year with that Pop Warner-level quarterback play gives us all hope), a group of wide receivers no one’s ever heard of beyond Torrey Smith, and a defense anchored by two of Kelly’s former Ducks and an All-Pro inside linebacker who has no business even being able to walk all the way to Houston for Super Bowl LI, would be fingertip-kissing good to this hopelessly optimistic Niner fan.
And if they fall short in the big dance, at least old friend Alex Smith would get his ring. - Alex Rubenstein
Seahawks vs. Raiders
The Seahawks’ fan base went from hard-luck underdogs to horrible blowhards in the blink of an eye once they tasted success. The Raiders’ fan base has always been insufferable, but nobody noticed for the past decade because the team was terrible. But now that they’re close to being good again ... oh, it’s coming. They’ll be out of the woodwork and ruining sports bars across the nation faster than Chris Berman can yell RAAAAAAIDDDDDAAAAAZZZZZZ.
You don’t want the Raiders to be good again, because you don’t want these fans to be happy again.
So screw it, let’s pit old AFC West rivals and two of the quietly worst fandoms in football against each other in the big game, then watch together as the West Coast burns. Bonus points if Golden State Warriors frontrunners show up in bright yellow Darth Vader suits. - Jon Benne
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