Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks ranked the 16 possible Super Bowl XLV matchups and shockingly, the Bears didn’t rank very well. I can’t believe it since the national media are so head over heels over the Bears. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek since we all know the national media all hate the Bears, but it amazes me just how much). Don’s basis for the rankings is based on the storylines and or reasons to care about the games. He ranked the possible matchups from 1 to 16:
Here’s how he ranks the Bears’ matchups against the four possible AFC opponents with my commentaries splashed in between:
6. Bears-Patriots — Twenty-five years after Mike Ditka’s 1985 Bears destroyed Raymond Berry’s 1985 wild-card Patriots in Super Bowl XX for Chicago’s only Super Bowl title, New England could exact its revenge. Then again, maybe it’s the Bears who will be out for payback after the Patriots embarrassed them 36-7 at snowy, blustery Soldier Field in Week 14, becoming the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth.
#6?!?! Seriously? A rematch of the Super Bowl XX participants on the Silver Anniversary? His #1 ranking is Falcons and Patriots. Is there some rivalry there that I missed?
Other matchups ranked ahead of the Bears-Pats include the Falcons-Ravens (why, because they’re both birds?), Steelers-Packers (#3), Packers-Pats (#4), and#5 Steelers-Falcons because it’s a Week 1 rematch. Those are some compelling storylines there Don. I can hardly contain myself. More after the jump.
9. Jets-Bears — The overlapping ties that bind these franchises in history are pretty rich: It was 25 years ago that Rex Ryan’s dad, Buddy Ryan, was the architect and coordinator of the famed 1985 Bears defense, which dominated Chicago’s only Super Bowl-winning team. Rex Ryan was a ball boy for that squad, and was on the sideline that day in New Orleans when the Bears routed the Patriots and carried Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka off the field on their shoulders. And there’s more: Buddy Ryan won his first Super Bowl with the Jets, as the defensive coordinator on the 1968 New York team that upset Baltimore in Super Bowl III.
I like the Buddy Ryan-Rex Ryan tie in, but this should rank way above some of the first wave of games and definitely in the Top 5. What’s the matter, the two largest NFL media markets not sexy enough for this matchup? Come on!
13. Bears-Ravens — Defense likely would be the predominant theme of this Super pairing, with middle linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher matching Pro Bowl-studded résumés and leading teams that have long made their reputation on that side of the ball. Other than that, the Bears and Ravens have had running back Chester Taylor in common, and not much else in recent years.
Can’t you just picture the hype of two sure-fire Hall of Fame linebackers in Urlacher and Ray Lewis? Can’t you just hear the pads popping?
But that’s not as bad as old Donny’s #15 matchup. This is where the train really goes off the tracks:
15. Steelers-Bears — Somehow, despite the Bears and Steelers being two of the NFL’s historic old-guard, family-run franchises, they’ve never met in the postseason. And the teams first played one another in 1936, so you would have thought the Rooneys and the Halas/McCaskey clan might have run into each other a time or two in the playoffs. Maybe the Bears and Steelers would go the throwback uniform route in the Super Bowl and make the whole thing way retro cool.
You’re telling me that two of the most storied franchises in the NFL with some of the most die-hard fans which have never matched up in the postseason ranks second to last? How about the Lovie Smith and Mike Tomlin tie-in from the Tony Dungy coaching tree? This battle would be epic!
Don, you wouldn’t know an interesting and compelling matchup if it came up and bit you in the ass.