We are still three months away from the start of the 2017 NFL season, so what better time to take a look at some of the potential match-ups for Super Bowl LII? For the purpose of this article, I will stick to teams that have a legitimate chance of making it to the big game, choosing the four best possible match-ups from those teams.
Which match-up would you most like to see?
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys
With the break-out season of Dak Prescott in 2016 (leading the Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC), America’s Team seems on the verge of a great resurgence. If Dak can overcome the infamous sophomore slump, what better team for the Cowboys to face in their first Super Bowl in 22 years than the team that they defeated in their last appearance on the big stage, the Pittsburgh Steelers? Not only would the Cowboys have the chance to tie the Steelers with six Super Bowl victories, but would get to accomplish this by defeating Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s last appearance in a Super Bowl was a 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, but prior to that, wins in the late-2000s against the Seahawks and Cardinals respectively have placed the Steelers at the top of the list for most Super Bowl victories with six. In each of the last three years, Pittsburgh has taken a step closer to returning to the big game, losing last year in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots. With Ben Roethlisberger seemingly nearing the end of his career, this could be the last chance that this Steelers team has to capture a record seventh ring for a long time.
These two teams have a rich history in the Super Bowl, with Pittsburgh and Dallas competing for the Lombardi Trophy a record three times. With the Steelers and Cowboys having two of the biggest fanbases, a fourth match-up would be sure to garner plenty of hype.
Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks
In an off-season that saw big moves such as the San Diego Chargers moving to Los Angeles and the Oakland Raiders announcing a future move to Las Vegas, one of the biggest shockers still remains the return of the previously retired Marshawn Lynch and his subsequent trade to the Raiders.
On it’s face, Marshawn Lynch becoming a Raider makes all the sense in the world as he grew up in Oakland and is still a big part of that community. Although most would expect Lynch to be sour on the franchise that will soon abandon the city for greener pastures, his desire to play for his hometown team that will only be around for a few more seasons. In most cases, a team announcing a move will not play in it’s current city to avoid the hostile climate of the disillusioned fan base. For all intents and purposes, this situation in Oakland seems to be different than the norm.
Marshawn Lynch hasn’t been so much as vocal about the infamous call that cost the Seahawks a victory in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots as his other previous teammates, but it was obvious that he felt slighted by the coaching staff that wanted to make Russell Wilson the star of a game in which Marshawn Lynch was destined to be named Super Bowl MVP.
To this day, there is still tension in the Seattle locker room between a number of Seattle players and the coaching staff–it came to a head in a Thursday Night game in 2016 when Richard Sherman questioned a play call that was very similar to the goal line pass from Super Bowl XLIX.
A match-up between the Raiders and Seahawks not only brings forth the classic “scorned player faces former team” scenario, but brings added intrigue in the form of mixed feelings from Lynch’s former teammates that still take his side. There is no doubt that many Seahawks players believe that this Seattle team had the makings of a dynasty and in this scenario, they would have to shutdown the man that they believe should have carried them towards making that vision a reality.
New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers
One of the biggest tragedies in sports is when we aren’t afforded a match-up between the sport’s biggest superstars of that generation. We never had the chance to see a LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant NBA Finals match-up and missing out on a Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl would be in that same vein.
The five-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are possibly the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Being the only team to win Super Bowls 15 years apart with the same head coach and starting quarterback, the Patriots have been relevant longer than any other dynasty in the Super Bowl era.
In recent years, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers has been touted as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, often rivaling Tom Brady for the top spot. Although Rodgers has 1 Super Bowl MVP and 2 NFL MVP awards under his discount double check belt, he has yet to live up to the expectation of pundits that he would lead his Packers to the start of a new dynasty after a victory in Super Bowl XLV.
A match-up between the Patriots and Packers would not only be the dream match between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers that many NFL fans have been clamoring for, but it could be the end of an era and the start of a new dynasty.
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
For the New England Patriots, the 2016 NFL season started off with plenty of controversy. The final conclusion of the Deflategate scandal resulted in Tom Brady being served a four-game suspension and the Patriots forfeiting draft picks.
Just as after the Spygate scandal, the Patriots responded with one of their best season’s in history on the way to becoming Super Bowl LI champions. During Tom Brady’s suspension, the Patriots went 3-1 and with Brady, the Patriots only lost one game during the entire regular season. Which team was the only team to defeat Tom Brady in 2016? The Seattle Seahawks.
For the Seahawks, defeating the Patriots on their home turf was a small measure of revenge for the loss they suffered to New England in the much talked about Super Bowl XLIX, but the only way to truly even the score would be to defeat New England in Super Bowl LII.