The NFL post-season is still underway, but the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX (49) already has some people excited for the big game.
Four NFL teams will take to the gridiron on Sunday to compete for a spot in penultimate games. The NFC side will feature the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, while the AFC will have the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots give it their all for a spot.
"This weekend's conference title games are rematches, with the Packers looking to make a better showing at Seattle than they did in a 36-16 loss in the Kickoff Opener, and the Colts hoping for a pulse, something they didn't have in a 42-20 loss to the Patriots at home in Week 11," Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times wrote.
According to Farmer, there are four possible matchups for this year's Super Bowl: Seattle-New England, Seattle-Indianapolis, Green Bay-New England and Green Bay-Indianapolis. In Farmer's opinion, a matchup between the Seahawks and Patriots would be a game worth watching.
"This is the most likely scenario, and it pits Seattle's Pete Carroll, onetime coach of the Patriots, and Bill Belichick, who replaced him in New England," Farmer wrote. "Both are tremendously successful and reside at the opposite ends of the enthusiasm spectrum."
Farmer noted that Seattle, with the help of Richard Sherman, wants to win a second Super Bowl title successively, while New England already accomplished that feat in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Mike Wilkening of NBC Sports thought that the NFC team would win in a matchup between Seattle and New England.
"If both the top-seeded Seahawks and Patriots both win on Sunday, Seattle would be a 2.5-point favorite over New England," Wilkening wrote.
For Wilkening, the ideal Super Bowl matchup would involve the Packers and Patriots. Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S., thought that both teams are so closely matched that Wilkening summarized the game as having "the feel of a coin flip."
"The Packers and Patriots met in Green Bay on Nov. 30, with the Packers winning 26-21 as three-point favorites at Lambeau Field," Wilkening wrote. "A rematch between the clubs would be at the neutral site of University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz."
For Farmer, a pairing between the Cheeseheads and Chowderheads would be a rematch with echoes of Super Bowl XXXI, when Brett Favre led the Packers to a 35-21 victory over the Patriots 18 years ago. This time around, the potential matchup could put up a clash between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
"Both of those quarterbacks know the feeling of dropping in the draft," Farmer wrote. "Football fans remember Rodgers waiting in the green room at Radio City Music Hall in 2005, when he was the possible No. 1 selection but tumbled all the way to 24. Almost no one noticed Brady in 2000, when he was the seventh quarterback taken, the 199th pick in the seventh round."
In terms of a matchup between Seattle and Indianapolis, the focus would turn to the Colts' Andrew Luck. That's because according to Farmer, he is the only quarterback among the four teams without a Super Bowl ring.
"According to STATS, the only other time three of the final four quarterbacks had won Super Bowls was during the 1983 season, when the field was Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins, Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Plunkett of the Los Angeles Raiders, all of whom had won Super Bowls, and the ringless Seattle tandem of Dave Krieg and Jim Zorn," Farmer wrote.
Other players who would receive attention in this matchup, according to Farmer, include Seattle's Russell Wilson and Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Wilkening also elaborated on this matchup.
"In a Seahawks-Colts Super Bowl, Seattle would be favored by 6.5 points," Wilkening wrote.
As for the other potential matchup between Green Bay and Indianapolis, Farmer noted that there would not be "a lot of player or coaching crossover between these teams."
"The matchup does feature two quarterbacks who replaced legends, with Rodgers stepping in for Favre and Luck succeeding Peyton Manning," Farmer wrote.
Wilkening thought that the Packers and Colts were both underdog teams. If both teams did pull upsets this Sunday, Bogdanovich told Wilkening that "the Packers would be four-point favorites over the Colts."
According to Farmer, the last time the Colts and Packers met on the football field was back in 2012 during Week 5.
"Rookie Luck led his team to a 30-27, come-from-behind victory at home," Farmer wrote. "Indianapolis overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit in that one."
The penultimate NFC Championship between the Packers and Seahawks will air Jan. 18 at 3:05 p.m. ET on Fox, while the AFC Championship between the Colts and Patriots will air at 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS on the same day. Online viewers can stream the NFC Championship through Fox Sports Go, while the AFC Championship can be watched through NFL Sunday Ticket (subscription required); while this option requires a subscription, both games can be seen on demand via NFL Game Rewind.
Super Bowl 49 will air Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Online viewers can stream this game live on NBC Sports Extra when the event occurs.