SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass from the pocket in the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The NFL isn't basketball or baseball. It's not the kind of sport that relies on teams from major markets succeeding in order to keep it viable. You rarely hear the likes of Mike Wilbon argue that a New York team needs to make the Super Bowl in order for America to pay attention (Wilbon would skip the game regardless because he secretly hates football and he secretly hates you, the football fan). You rarely hear fans complaining about intricate conspiracies designed by Roger Goodell and the TV networks in order to advance major market teams deeper into the postseason. They'll complain about everything ELSE, but rarely that.
However, there's no reason that we can't go ahead and ruin football just like we did all the other sports by turning it into some kind of freakshow ratings-watching derby. Let's rank these perspective Super Bowl matchups based upon their potential viewing audience size, because it's fun to speculate about things that would be beneficial to giant corporations (including NBC, which owns this website and will be televising the Super Bowl)! Let's go.
1. Pats/Giants. This one's obvious. You'd be talking about a rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time (Super Bowl 42), with a chance for Tom Brady to exact his revenge on Eli Manning for ruining his dream season and consigning him to a life of untold riches and supermodel lovin'. Poor, poor man. Also, Bill Simmons would like a second chance to party with Brady in the Presidential Suite at the Conrad Hotel.
2. Pats/49ers. You would still have Brady gunning for his fourth title (so dreamy!), with the added bonus of a storied franchise (the 49ers) looking to return to glory after spending two-plus decades in a black hole. Also, the 49ers defense is nasty, so I'd be quite interested in seeing if they could again shut down a historically prolific offense in New England. Brady is the biggest star left in these playoffs. I'm sure NBC execs would be pleased to have him on board, regardless of the matchup.
3. Ravens/Giants. The rematch no one wanted. Remember the 2000 Super Bowl? Of course you don't. You were too busy drinking hydrogen peroxide under the pool table to witness that atrocity. Boy, that's a big charisma dropoff from Brady to Joe Flacco, isn't it? Like going from a Ferrari to a Datsun. Even Flacco's mustache can't keep him from being an empty vessel.
4. Ravens/49ers. Did you see these two teams play earlier in the season? You don't want that again. That's a little too much defense for my taste.