Greatest Super Bowl  

 

Greatest Super Bowl Ever: Bracket breakdown

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Heading into Super Bowl 50, NFL Media is looking to answer one simple question:

What is the greatest Super Bowl ever?

So, taking the top 32 Super Bowl's from Elliot Harrison's all-time rankings, we've set up a bracket. Now the power is in your hands!

Here is a quick rundown on the seeding/theme of each quadrant ...

(NOTE: Click on each Super Bowl for the recap.)

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Underrated gems

1) Super Bowl XVII
2) Super Bowl XXXVIII
3) Super Bowl XXX
4) Super Bowl XIV
5) Super Bowl XXXI
6) Super Bowl XLIV
7) Super Bowl XLVI
8) Super Bowl XLVII

They might not permeate your mind when the NFL Films music ramps up and images of the Lombardi Trophy fill your TV. Yet, these are some of the most fun games Super Sunday has provided. Super Bowl XVII was a one-score game until "The Diesel" got roaring in the fourth quarter. Same deal in Super Bowl XIV, when the "Team of the '70s" lit it up in the final period, besting the Rams. When the lights came back on in Super Bowl XLVII, a sneaky-good game leaped forward.

Desmond Howard helped the Packers pull out of a close contest in Super Bowl XXXI. Drew Brees and clutch special teams gave us all a thrill in Super Bowl XLIV. The Cowboys made it three out of four in their tightest championship bout of the '90s, Super Bowl XXX. Tom Coughlin won his second ring in a fun one in Indy, Super Bowl XLVI. And the nail-biter of the bunch? Super Bowl XXXVIII, Panthers-Patriots.

Dynasty starters

1) Super Bowl X
2) Super Bowl XXXVI
3) Super Bowl VI
4) Super Bowl VII
5) Super Bowl II
6) Super Bowl XX
7) Super Bowl XXVIII
8) Super Bowl XVI

Hall of Fame voting

Super Bowls make dynasties. Super Bowl X provided a young Steeler team with their second straight title. The Lombardi Packers took their second straight Super Bowl in II, though they were a veteran team. Super Bowl XXVIII launched the '90s Cowboys (... only for the salary cap era to cause a slow decay in Big D).

Dallas' first dynasty, that of the 1970s, was launched in Super Bowl VI. The Cowboys beat Don Shula's Dolphins, who went undefeated the following season, winning that Super Bowl (VII) ... and the next (VIII). Getting that first ring is so important, especially for a young unknown quarterback like Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI. Twenty years prior, Brady's idol, Joe Montana, won his first. And the 1985 Bears would only win one, but if ever there was a dynasty that never came to be, it was Mike Ditka's 18-1 ballclub from the Windy City -- one of the most dominant teams of all time.

Legendary performances

1) Super Bowl XLIX
2) Super Bowl XLIII
3) Super Bowl XVIII
4) Super Bowl XXXII
5) Super Bowl XXXIV
6) Super Bowl XIX
7) Super Bowl XXI
8) Super Bowl XLV

Malcolm Butler's interception will never be forgotten by anyone who saw it. A legendary performance can be made by a undrafted free-agent cornerback who makes one play. Or a no-name quarterback who comes from out of nowhere to win league MVP and Super Bowl MVP (Kurt Warner). Aaron Rodgers was certainly a name brand by the end of the 2010 season, especially after the throws he made against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. The former Cal quarterback was almost as brilliant as Joe Montana, whose performance in NorCal in the mid-'80s -- specifically Stanford Stadium in Super Bowl XIX -- cemented his legend.

A year earlier, a guy who played in Los Angeles made a run for the ages for the Raiders -- who could forget Marcus Allen reversing field against the Redskins, before leveling the rest of the field on his way to MVP of Super Bowl XVIII? Three years later, Phil Simms eschewed the run game enough to go 22-for-25 versus a stunned Broncos team. Denver would win a Super Bowl -- finally -- 11 years later, when Terrell Davis let no Packers -- or migraines -- get in his way. And don't forget Ben Roethlisberger, who, like Davis, rose to the occasion to deliver a perfect ball to Santonio Holmes to secure the Steelers' first ring in three decades.

Historically significant

1) Super Bowl III
2) Super Bowl XLII
3) Super Bowl XXV
4) Super Bowl XXIII
5) Super Bowl V
6) Super Bowl XXII
7) Super Bowl XIII
8) Super Bowl XXXIX

The butterfly effect of professional sports' largest spectacle, the Super Bowl, is often not seen for decades. Or it can be felt immediately. Super Bowl III offered both outcomes, showing the strength of the AFL (and Joe Namath's guarantee) while making the merger a desirable thing, not a realignment afterthought. The first title game played between a representative of the newly formed AFC and NFC was Super Bowl V, which gave the Colts the ring they lost to Namath two years prior. Later that decade, the conference's premier franchises, the Steelers and Cowboys, fought for the title of "Team of the '70s." The team of the 2000s was decided when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX, their third such title under the Belichick-Brady partnership.

Super Bowl XXII became historically relevant when Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to win it all. The next season, Joe Montana became the first quarterback to win it all by mounting a drive in the final three minutes. Two years later, Bills quarterback Jim Kelly thought he had accomplished the same thing ... until "Wide Right" happened. Tom Brady never had a chance in Super Bowl XLII, as the game clock and the Giants' pass rush gobbled him up, preventing the Patriots from becoming the first undefeated team to win the Super Bowl since the '72 Dolphins.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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