Analysis

Dream Super Bowl 50 matchups: Eight NFL final fours to hope for

If you were able to sit through the entire second season of "True Detective," you can surely make it a few more months to find out who'll be playing in Super Bowl 50. Then again, I can't help it: My football calendar insists it's time for some reckless speculation. And what better to ruminate on than which two NFL teams will get to take the field for the golden anniversary of the big game?

I hope you didn't just come up with a good answer, because below is a list of the final football foursomes I'd most like to see this coming postseason. (Just to repeat: These are the matchups I'd most like to see. Plausibility isn't a factor.)

The Archie Bowl

AFC Championship Game:Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts
NFC Championship Game:New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 50:Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants

After Peyton vanquishes his successor in Indy (who, by the by, is the son of Archie Manning's one-time backup, Oliver Luck) and Eli improves to 2-0 against Tony Romo in the playoffs, the Brothers Manning go (fore)head-to-head on the world stage. By the time the game's done, Peyton will either be regarded as the greatest QB on the planet ... or the second-best QB in his family.

The Déjà Vu Bowl

AFC Championship Game:Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
NFC Championship Game:Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 50:Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers

Forty-nine years after the inaugural world championship game of American football, Green Bay and Kansas City tangle again. I doubt we'll be able to convince a Packers receiver to replicate Max McGee's legendary Super Bowl Eve twister, but if this game does come to pass, I at least hope Chiefs QB Alex Smith will make like Len Dawson and burn a nail at halftime.

The Hollywood Bowl

AFC Championship Game:San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
NFC Championship Game:St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 50:San Diego Chargers vs. St. Louis Rams

The Niners' fancy new Santa Clara digs are a natural site for the culmination of this California-flavored tourney, with three of the four teams potentially bound for Los Angeles. Spoiler alert: The two participants in our hypothetical Super Bowl matchup end up sharing a hypothetical (at the time of this posting) L.A. stadium. That Rams-Chargers pairing just makes too much sense, with the common blue-and-gold thing. (Secondary dream Super Bowl matchup for the Bolts: I'd love to see Philip Rivers take on Eli's Giants.)

The Elite Bowl

AFC Championship Game:New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Championship Game:Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl 50:New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers

As good as the Cowboys and Raiders of the 1970s were, it's a shame we never got to see them play each other in the Super Bowl. Here's hoping we won't be saying the same thing about Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, the two best QBs of the last quarter century. (Of course, if Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees gets another Lombardi, that debate's gonna be even murkier.)

The Ryan vs. Ryan (minus the Jets) Bowl

AFC Championship Game:Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
NFC Championship Game:New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
Super Bowl 50:Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints

NOLA defensive coordinator Rob Ryan scheming to stop Shady, Sammy and Tyrod would be fun, but I like a Ryan faceoff (which I also went with last year) even more if the path to the game involves Rex taking on -- and defeating -- the Jets.

The Best-est Bowl

AFC Championship Game:Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
NFC Championship Game:Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 50:Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys

If you're looking for a game with the most historical significance, this is the showdown to root for: Dallas gets a chance to match Pittsburgh's Lombardi count at six (and also even the Super Bowl's most common head-to-head series at 2-2), while the Steelers try to take a two-trophy lead on the Cowboys and Niners.

The PSI Bowl

AFC Championship Game:New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts
NFC Championship Game:Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl 50:New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

It's really too bad the aftermath of Super Bowl XLIX was consumed with talk about footballs (as in, the Seahawks' failure to run theirs and the amount of air in the Patriots'), because those two threads have obscured what was perhaps the best Super Bowl of all time. (It wasn't ... but it was close.) Anyhoo, since that game was such a hoot, let's just repeat the whole fortnight.

The Huh? Bowl

AFC Championship Game:Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets
NFC Championship Game:Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals
Super Bowl 50:Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions

Four of pro football's sorriest franchises get together for a tourney that absolutely, positively cannot end until one of them wins it. Apologies to the Bills and Vikings for not pitting them and their respective 0-4 Super Bowl records against each other. Also, when the Cleveland Browns finally do reach the big game, maybe it'd be best if it came at the expense of the Ravens.

What do you think? Really, I'm interested. Really. Let me know below.

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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