The playoffs are set and the schedule is in. We know when the Super Bowl will be and the only thing to figure out is who will be playing in the championship in Houston on Feb. 5. The NFC is significantly more interesting, with six really talented teams that could all make the Super Bowl.
You're going to see that reflected below in these rankings of every potential Super Bowl matchup, because there are several NFC teams we would like to see in Houston.
There are several AFC teams, however, that wouldn't be so great. The Texans situation with Tom Savage/Brock Osweiler is an absolute nightmare. They win games, but it's not pretty. The Raiders are one of the best stories in the NFL this season, but they're rolling out Matt McGloin or Connor Cook. That has the potential to not be pretty against a team like the Cowboys or Seahawks.
So, yeah, those factors influence these "highly scientific" rankings. The goal is to try to find the games that are most entertaining, from the actual game, to the storylines around the game, to the lead up to the action on the field.
Bear in mind the grouping is probably more important than the actual rankings. But by all means please quibble in the comments or with me on Twitter.
1. Patriots vs. Giants: This would complete the trilogy and offer Tom Brady and Bill Belichick a chance at redemption against the only team to ever beat them in a Super Bowl. Both of matchups were tremendous, and it's hard to imagine this game not being great too.
2. Steelers vs. Packers The two hottest teams in football lately produced an epic game after the 2010 season and this would be a superb battle as well. Getting to see Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger duke it out again in Texas (last time was in Dallas) would be a lot of fun.
3. Patriots vs. Cowboys: The ratings for this matchup of two No. 1 seeds would be out of control. Easily the most loved and hated teams in America. Dak Prescott is basically Tom Brady 2.0 in terms of taking over for an injured veteran as a first-year starter and taking his team to a great record.
4. Steelers vs. Cowboys: Arguably the two biggest "brands" in football. Absurd ratings. This was also a great game earlier in the season.
5. Patriots vs. Packers: Delightful matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
6. Patriots vs. Seahawks: A rematch of the best Super Bowl in the past 20 years and a classic battle of offense versus defense.
7. Steelers vs. Giants: Loser of this one has to buy all the food for the next Rooney-Mara Thanksgiving. Poor Philip Rivers is just going to cry having to watch Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning battle for a third Super Bowl victory.
8. Patriots vs. Falcons: The Falcons are underrated by everyone in America, including yours truly, and they should be getting more respect. They have talent on defense and a good coach in Dan Quinn. Matt Ryan should be the MVP. This would be a fun shootout to watch.
9. Steelers vs. Falcons: Same deal as the Pats-Falcons.
10. Steelers vs. Seahawks: For whatever reason this doesn't feel like the sexiest matchup. Maybe it's a fear the NFL will put Bill Leavy in charge again.
11. Chiefs vs. Cowboys: Two really good teams with the potential to play some beefy football, but you're not going to see a crazy display of passing or anything here.
12. Chiefs vs. Seahawks: Take the under in this one. And take the over on "defense can be fun too" apology tweets.
13. Steelers vs. Lions: Assuming Matthew Stafford is healthy there's a decent chance this game would be a fun shootout. Rust Belt Battle between two teams with very different histories.
14. Chiefs vs. Packers: Tons of ties between these two franchises, including John Dorsey coming from Green Bay, Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy having close ties in terms of coaching trees (McCarthy worked for Ray Rhodes, who grew up with Reid in Green Bay under Mike Holmgren) and Alex Smith (No. 1 pick, 2005 NFL Draft) squaring off against Aaron Rodgers (No. 24 pick, 2005 NFL Draft).
15. Dolphins vs. Cowboys: Two teams built to run the ball just trying to outmuscle one another at the line of scrimmage. Both are considered premier franchises as well.
16. Raiders vs. Cowboys: Two marquee franchises, but it's hard to imagine this game staying close, especially with McGloin or Cook under center.
17. Patriots vs. Lions: This would also be a shootout. Feels like Bill Belichick might be able to outmaneuver Jim Caldwell and make this one ugly.
18. Texans vs. Cowboys: The pride of Texas on the line, with the game being played in Texas. The actual game surrounding this matchup has nightmare stamped all over it, what with the Texans' struggles, but the whole concept of an all-Texas Super Bowl and Houston playing in its own stadium is fascinating.
19. Raiders vs. Packers: Plenty of connections here as well, with Reggie McKenzie coming over from Green Bay. The McGloin factor is just a major issue.
20. Raiders vs. Seahawks: Two West Coast teams would be fun but this could be a blowout without Derek Carr to play.
21. Dolphins vs. Lions: Not a lot of recent success from these two franchises but this is oddly compelling and I can't really explain why.
22. Dolphins vs. Packers: Serious potential to get one-sided in this one if Aaron Rodgers comes to play.
23. Chiefs vs. Giants: Just not feeling this one.
24. Chiefs vs. Falcons: Two underrated teams that could create a good game, although doesn't it feel like this one would be disjointed and odd? The hype and ratings would probably not be through the roof.
25. Dolphins vs. Falcons: I'm all about an animal vs. animal Super Bowl. Both franchises could really use a win in this situation, but it's just not that thrilling.
26. Dolphins vs. Seahawks: And what about a battle of two OCEAN animals?
27. Chiefs vs. Lions: It's really hard to get hyped up for this matchup. You can easily picture a very boring Super Bowl week.
28. Raiders vs. Falcons: This would be a great game if Carr was healthy, and a potentially fun shootout.
29. Raiders vs. Lions: The loser bowl, with one of these perennial tomato cans managing to pick up a huge win.
30. Raiders vs. Giants: This is a team Oakland could potentially keep things close with, but it just doesn't have that pop and panache of some of the other matchups.
31. Dolphins vs. Giants: Same for Miami but it just doesn't have that much punch.
32. Texans vs. Packers: Just the first in a fairly arbitrary list.
34. Texans vs. Falcons: Ew.
35. Texans vs. Giants: Ewwww.
36. Texans vs. Lions: "Buzz, your girlfriend ... woof!"