This coming weekend is perhaps the most exciting of all the year. This Sunday we get to see four teams duke it out for the chance to play in the biggest game in the world, the Super Bowl.
The football gods have shined on us, because we are bound to see two of the best games of the season. Not only that — it is two rematches of two of the best games from the regular season. Both are rivalry games with the ultimate prize at stake. But both games are on opposite sides of the spectrum.
The late game on Sunday will be against bitter NFC West Division rivals. The Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers. This will be Round 3 of an always-heavyweight battle.
Both teams won their home match-up. The Seahawks got the best of the Niners in Week 2 by the score of 29-3. But San Francisco looks like a different team since that match-up, mostly because they have gotten healthy. They have won their last eight games, including a 19-17 win over Seattle at Candlestick Park.
This NFC West battle has become the nastiest rivalry in the NFL over the last two seasons. With the addition of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, both teams have risen to the top heap of NFL teams. This rivalry may be new to them, but to the head coaches, Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, this has been going on for years.
Both coaches coached in the Pac-12 Conference, and they faced each other every year as the coaches of Stanford and USC. Both of them have a fire in them and neither will back down.
Expect a bloody brawl with the most physical team coming out on top. Both teams will run the ball early and often, and the two stacked defenses will control this one. This will be a battle from start to finish, and the team that wants it more, as the old cliche goes, will come out on top.
The other game is not a game of tough, pounding division rivalry, but it has become the marquee match-up of the 21st century in the NFL. It is Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady, the two best quarterbacks of their generation and two of the all-time greats.
It is hard to leave disappointed after a match-up between these two greats. One need not look far back for the last battle between these two. Back in Week 12 of this season, the two squared off at Gillette Stadium, and it took overtime to decide a winner. The Patriots beat the Broncos 34-31.
Brady led New England back from a 24-0 deficit in the second quarter to once again get the best of Peyton. Manning is just 4-10 against Brady, including 1-2 against him in the playoffs — an interesting stat. When Manning and Brady have met in the playoffs, the winner of that game went on to win the Super Bowl each time.
These two quarterbacks will always be compared to each other. Manning held the record for most touchdown passes in a season, a mark that was broken by Brady in 2007. Manning got the record back this season, throwing for 55 touchdowns, and he set a record for most yards thrown as well. Their legacies will always be intertwined.
Interestingly enough, this match-up comes with an offensive weapon that has switched sides. Wes Welker, formerly the favorite target of Brady, now catches passes from Manning. Welker has been an added dimension for the Broncos this season and could be the force needed to tip the scales in favor of the Broncos.
But if anyone has Manning’s number, it is Bill Belichick and Brady. This will be one of the final match-ups between these two quarterbacks. Both are in their late 30s, so next year might be it for Manning, with Brady soon to follow. We need to relish the times we have left.
This weekend will provide something for every type of football fan. If you like “run the ball, hit the guy in front of you before he hits you” defensive battles, then the Seahawks-49ers game is the game for you.
If you like watching elite quarterbacks toss the ball around the yard with a mix of running plays that is sure to be a shootout, then the Patriots-Broncos is your best bet. I know what I will be doing Sunday; I’ll be getting my share of both.
@MarcusAJensen for your Super Bowl picks