Twelve most compelling Super Bowl rematches


The NFL has been celebrating the pathway to Super Bowl 50 all season long.

Now that the playoff field is set, we know that there are a dozen possible rematches of previous Super Bowls leading up to the golden anniversary of the league's crown jewel.

Around The NFL has ranked each of the 12 scenarios in order of most compelling to least compelling.

1. Steelers vs. Cardinals, Super Bowl XLIII: Narratives are overrated by sportswriters, but this matchup offers intriguing storylines as well as exciting football. The shared DNA between these two organizations is particularly compelling. Bruce Arians was "re-fired" as Steelers offensive coordinator after developing Ben Roethlisberger as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. He was replaced in Pittsburgh by Todd Haley, Larry Fitzgerald's former position coach with the Cardinals.

With the exception of Arizona's considerable edge in roster depth and pass defense, these teams are mirror images. They each feature a top-six quarterback, a playmaking wide-receiver corps, a dynamic aerial attack and solid run defense. If the Cardinals have been the most fun team to watch week-in and week-out this season, the Roethlisberger-led Steelers aren't far behind.

2. Patriots vs. Panthers, Super Bowl XXXVIII: For the majority of the season, these were the NFL's dominant teams. The Panthers went 15 weeks without a loss. The Patriots went 11 weeks without a loss until attrition began taking its toll on the AFC superpower's aura of invincibility. If New England makes it back to the promised land, it will be due to contributions from at least a half-dozen key players expected to return to the lineup now that the postseason is here.

3. Patriots vs. Seahawks, Super Bowl XLIX: Last February's Super Bowl was an instant classic. Still harboring dynastic dreams, Pete Carroll's squad certainly wouldn't complain about a shot at redemption after losing in memorably heart-breaking fashion at the Patriots' goal line.

4. Seahawks vs. Broncos, Super Bowl XLVIII: What better way for Peyton Manning to walk off into the sunset than avenging the blowout loss to the Seahawks two years ago? If he gets to write the perfect script, Manning would outduel career-long rival Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game en route to his second Super Bowl ring.

5. Packers vs. Chiefs, Super Bowl I: A rematch of the first ever Super Bowl is fitting for the golden anniversary of the NFL's championship game. Would they dust off the iconic jetpacks for halftime entertainment?

6. Steelers vs. Seahawks, Super Bowl XL: With the return of Marshawn Lynch and the Week 17 dismantling of the Cardinals in a statement game, the Seahawks are the one NFC team the top seeds don't want to face. With a two-time Super Bowl winner directing a dynamic aerial attack, the Steelers are the one AFC team the top seeds don't want to face.

7. Packers vs. Steelers, Super Bowl XLV: When Green Bay's offense has been at its fine-tuned best over the past decade, the NFL offered no player more fun to watch than Aaron Rodgers. Over the past three months, though, a lethal combination of slow wide receivers, subpar offensive line play and questionable play calling has sabotaged Rodgers' once-glorious aerial fireworks spectacle. Can Rodgers keep up with Roethlisberger in a shootout this time around?

8. Packers vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XXXI: Whereas Rodgers is figuratively limping into January, Brady might literally limp through the postseason with a high-ankle sprain sustained in the regular-season finale. Is the timing simply off for a showdown between two of the generation's most valuable players?

9. Redskins vs. Broncos, Super Bowl XXII: A catchphrases battle of epic proportions: You like that! vs. Omaha!

10. Steelers vs. Vikings, Super Bowl IX: This past summer's Hall of Fame Game between Steelers and Vikings kicked off Super Bowl rematch season, which included 19 such showdowns during the regular season. Hiding a neophyte Terry Bradshaw with a strong running game and a stingy defense, the 1974 Steelers outfit that kicked off the Steel Curtain dynasty more closely resembles this year's Minnesota counterparts rather than their own high-flying Pittsburgh team.

11. Broncos vs. Packers, Super Bowl XXXII: We witnessed this one-sided affair when the two teams each entered November at 6-0. The result was downright ugly for the Packers. Denver's star-studded secondary locked down Green Bay's receivers, stifling Rodgers for the longest four quarters of his brilliant career. Outside of Colorado, who wants to see a redux of that Wisconsin nightmare?

12. Chiefs vs. Vikings, Super Bowl IV: A smashmouth, grind-it-out football philosophy took hold among NFL coaches in the early 1970s, leaving spectators and sportswriters pining for complexity and excitement. The same would hold true in this matchup, which features strong ground attacks complemented by hard-hitting defenses.