2023 NFL playoffs: Ranking four potential Super Bowl LVII matchups, including Bengals vs. 49ers rematch

Two rounds of 2023 NFL playoff soccer are within the books, and we’re formally all the way down to four groups left within the race for the following Lombardi Trophy. Fourteen contenders opened the postseason with hopes of basking within the confetti, however after this weekend’s motion, the place the Chiefs edged the Jaguars, the Eagles stomped the Giants, the Bengals routed the Bills and the 49ers survived the Cowboys, solely two video games stay till Super Bowl LVII.

That means there are simply four doable Super Bowl matchups on the desk. Here’s how we might rank them:

4. Chiefs vs. 49ers

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We simply noticed this one in 2019, when Patrick Mahomes gained his first ring at age 24. But so much has additionally modified since then: Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers QB on the time, is now sidelined in favor of Brock Purdy, though there’s an opportunity Jimmy G himself might be recovered from harm to function Purdy’s backup on this 12 months’s massive recreation.

The revenge issue is the driving pressure right here, with Kyle Shanahan absolutely desirous to offset his 31-20 defeat in Super Bowl LIV. But there are many different storylines as properly: Purdy’s probability to edge the NFL’s greatest QB on the most important stage as “Mr. Irrelevant,” Nick Bosa’s alternative to disrupt Andy Reid’s offense just like the Buccaneers did within the 2020 title recreation, the Travis Kelce -George Kittle tight finish battle.

3. Bengals vs. Eagles

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If your chief precedence is collective QB swagger, then vault this one to the highest. There are maybe no two signal-callers with extra pure, steely charisma than Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts, who every boast championship expertise from their prime-time faculty days at LSU and Alabama, respectively.

Cincinnati could be eyeing its first Lombardi Trophy in opposition to a franchise that simply obtained its first ring 5 years in the past, whereas the mixed star energy at broad receiver — Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins for the Bengals, AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith for the Eagles — could be definitely worth the watch alone. All in all, these groups have each been extremely balanced and notably clutch all through the season, doubtless guaranteeing a battle to the buzzer.

2. Bengals vs. 49ers

Brock Purdy

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This one’s for the historical past buffs — a wonderful conflict of old-school franchises that includes new-school expertise. Not solely would this be a rematch of each Super Bowl XVI (1981) and XXIII (1988), when the Joe Montana-led 49ers beat Cincy each instances, however barring harm, it’d doubtless imply both Joe Burrow, in simply his third NFL season; or Brock Purdy, San Francisco’s inconceivable rookie QB, would exit on prime.

Burrow has survived banged-up offensive strains earlier than, however his imaginative and prescient and fast launch could be up for an actual problem in opposition to DeMeco Ryans’ ferocious entrance, trying to avenge 2021’s Super Bowl defeat in opposition to one more NFC West opponent on the large stage. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, this could be probably the most even, well-rounded matchup doable.

1. Chiefs vs. Eagles

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The Super Bowl is all about spectacle: explosive performs, flashy halftime reveals, dramatic finishes. And in that regard, there simply is not a extra tantalizing pairing than this one. Yes, it is predicated on Patrick Mahomes’ ankle holding up properly sufficient for No. 15 to be his freewheeling self. And sure, perhaps there is a contact of Chiefs fatigue creating now that KC has reached the AFC Championship in 5 straight seasons. But nobody ever complains after they truly do watch the Chiefs play soccer, and when firing on all cylinders, the Eagles have come closest to matching, if not eclipsing, their offensive manufacturing this 12 months. The duel between Mahomes and the unshakeable Jalen Hurts could be a sight to behold.

And then there’s the Andy Reid issue, with KC’s coach searching for his second ring in opposition to the group with which he constructed his profession. Standing in his means on the other sideline: Nick Sirianni, who’d be trying to comply with in Doug Pederson’s footsteps as a second-year Super Bowl winner. The final time these two groups met, in 2021, they scored a mixed 72 factors, and that was earlier than Hurts was an MVP candidate throwing to each AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. If this one involves fruition, there’ll nearly assuredly be fireworks.

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