Three Super Bowl rematches to look forward to next season
By HUNTER KOSSODO
College Contributor Network
Everybody loves to watch a Super Bowl rematch. 231 days after the Seahawks battered the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII last season the rematch between the two teams in Week 3 finished as the eighth-most watched NFL game of the regular season.
But the truth is that there are multiple Super Bowl rematches every season. In this upcoming season, 23 of the 49 Super Bowls will be "re-played" and according to Joe Caporoso, owner of the New York Jets-based website TurnOnTheJets, the NFL is making a big show of them to highlight the grandeur of the 50th Super Bowl at the conclusion of this season
Now, just because it's a Super Bowl rematch doesn't mean it's a good game. Some of these rematches are from title games long ago and the wounds have healed over time, not to mention some of these teams aren't very good anymore. So while I'm sure Super Bowl XI between the Raiders and Vikings was an instant classic (it wasn't, the Raiders won 32-14) the game between these teams this season doesn't exactly spell excitement, unless a duel between sophomore quarterbacks is what you're into.
There are some rematches this year in which some or most of the players that played for the championship are still on the same team and the memories are still fresh in the winning and losing cities minds.
New England Patriots @ New York Giants
Beating the Seahawks to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Foxoborough after a nearly decade-long absence may have dulled the pain for Patriots fans of the two previous Super Bowls, but it's still a sore spot.
Everyone knows the story by now. In 2008, the Giants upset the 18-0 Patriots in a game that still keeps me up at night. Four years later, the Giants entered the playoffs as the four-seed in the NFC but got red-hot and beat New England again, giving Eli Manning quite possibly the most perplexing Hall of Fame-worthy career ever.
It's been four years since that game and here we are again. There's a combined six Super Bowl rings between Tom Brady and Manning, but it won't be too hard for Brady to find motivation against a team that handed him both of his Super Bowl losses.
The Giants went just 6-10 last season and their defense is not the group that held the Patriots to 17 points in 2012 and definitely not the unit that held the '07 Pats to 14 points in Super Bowl XLII. They still have Manning and Tom Coughlin, plus Odell Beckham Jr. coming off his superstar rookie season and Victor Cruz off of a torn patellar tendon, as well as Jason Pierre-Paul should they choose to re-sign him (they should).
Interestingly enough, New England hasn't beaten the Giants since December of their almost-but-not-quite undefeated season. They've played three times since then, twice in the Super Bowl, and New York has won each time. That should throw some more wood in the fire.
Arizona Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cardinals came so agonizingly close to winning their first title in Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 and completing Kurt Warner's Cinderella season. But Santonio Holmes caught the go-ahead touchdown in the edge of the endzone on the tips of his toes and Pittsburgh left Raymond James Stadium with their sixth Lombardi Trophy in tow.
It's been a long climb back to relevancy for the Cardinals. As it built up its defense to one of the best in the league, Arizona went through and threw out six different starting quarterbacks before trading a couple of late round picks to Oakland for Carson Palmer before the 2013 season.
Last season, Palmer gave the Cardinals the best success they've had in years but he couldn't stay healthy. Two days after signing a $50 million extension in November he tore his ACL, and just like that Palmer's season was over just weeks before the playoffs began. Meanwhile, the Steelers also made the playoffs with their stalwart franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger as well as league-leading receiver Antonio Brown and second-leading rusher Le'Veon Bell.
Now Palmer is back, and Larry Fitzgerald will look to beat the team that spoiled his would-be game-winning, 64-yard touchdown in the Super Bowl six years ago. The Steelers' offense features a great passing and rushing attack, but Arizona's defense headed by Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson has the personnel to stifle it.
Baltimore Ravens @ San Francisco 49ers
The most recent Super Bowl matchup of the season is no longer "The Harbowl," but it'll still bring the same fervor.
The 49ers went deep in the playoffs three straight seasons with Jim Harbaugh, but were stopped short of winning a Super Bowl in part because the Giants and Seahawks beat them in the NFC Championship Game, but also because they couldn't get five yards against the Ravens' defense when it mattered most in Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco is coming off a very disappointing season in which they drudged out an 8-8 record and Colin Kaepernick took a step backward in his development as a quarterback. This sudden mortality coming from the 49ers makes their recent losses in the playoffs that much more painful. A lot of their struggles this season can be attributed to the injuries and suspensions on defense, as well as an offensive plan by Greg Roman (who has since departed to Buffalo) that flat out didn't work.
Jim Tomsula is now the head coach of the 49ers and he won't stick around for much longer if he doesn't make instant progress with a team that should do a lot better than 8-8. That starts with winning the tough, emotional games like this Super Bowl rematch against Baltimore.
The Ravens are on the other side of the coin as the 49ers. They nearly beat the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Game, and if they would've hung on to their two score lead in the third quarter they'd meet the Colts in the AFC Championship Game and lets face it, they would've won that game, too.
The Ravens are like the new-age Giants in that they can get rolling really quickly, especially in the playoffs, and that makes them a dangerous team. Baltimore's offense is as effective as ever, which should be countered by San Francisco having all of their defenders back this season. What will make the difference is whether the 49ers' regressed offense can move the chains against the Ravens' regressed defense.
Hunter Kossodo is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is a rabid supporter of Boston sports having lived there for most of his life. Follow him on Twitter: @HKossodo