Breaking Down the Potential NFL Super Bowl 57 Matchups

By Scott Kacsmar

We are down to the final four teams competing for Super Bowl 57 in the NFL’s 2022 season. For just the second time in NFL history, the final four have all been to a Super Bowl in the previous five seasons with the Bengals most recently as last year and the Eagles won it all back in the 2017 season. The Chiefs and 49ers faced each other in the 2019 season and the Chiefs returned a year later before losing to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 55.

But this is a very familiar final four with a rematch in Kansas City between the Bengals and Chiefs, and the 49ers are on the road for the second Championship Sunday in a row against the NFC’s latest great team in Philadelphia.

That leaves four potential Super Bowl matchups, and we have a little preview of what storylines and matchup potential they each would have for Super Bowl 57. We present them in order from least likely to most likely of happening based on the live moneyline odds at FanDuel.

4. Super Bowl 54 Rematch: San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (+365)

The History

While they are the underdogs this week, this is the matchup that would win out on history alone. These teams just met in a memorable Super Bowl three years ago when the Chiefs erased a 20-10 deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring three quick touchdowns in a 31-20 final.

The play of the game was “Jet Chip Wasp” on third-and-15, a brilliant play design where Patrick Mahomes found Tyreek Hill deep for a 44-yard gain while the Chiefs were still down two scores. That opened the floodgates for their hot finish as they stormed back for the win.

These teams also met in Week 7 this year, a 44-23 win by the Chiefs in San Francisco in the first rematch of Super Bowl 54. Mahomes passed for 423 yards as the top-ranked offense shredded the top-ranked defense.

But the 49ers have not lost another game since.

The Narrative Push

Beyond the rematch angles, this would be center stage for the quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy.

With a second MVP award likely coming his way, Mahomes could become the first MVP since Kurt Warner on the 1999 Rams to win the Super Bowl and MVP in the same season. This also means Mahomes will have survived this weekend’s game against the Bengals with his high-ankle sprain, so he would have two weeks to rest and prepare for this one against that top-ranked defense.

For Purdy, he would be the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to start a Super Bowl after taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. It is also fitting we are talking about Mahomes and Warner, because the start to Purdy’s career would be on par with the blazing starts they had in the NFL.

Purdy would be aiming to go 10-0 in the games since Garoppolo’s injury as a true rookie and the last pick in the draft, forever changing the meaning of Mr. Irrelevant. He is already the first rookie quarterback since Sammy Baugh in 1937 to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in a playoff game.

Getting to the Super Bowl would just cement his legacy as one of the greatest rookie quarterback seasons ever and the most unexpected of all time.

For Impartial Fans, Why Should You Root for This Matchup?

The Purdy story would be fascinating, and this is easily the best situation yet to see a rookie quarterback make it to a Super Bowl given the weapons around him and the defense.

Despite what the scoreboard said in Week 7, the 49ers did lead 10-0 and were only down 28-23 in the fourth quarter before the Chiefs hit a few big plays on third down to blow open the game again. Sound familiar?

This would be your classic matchup of top offense and MVP quarterback against top defense and likely Defensive Player of the Year (Nick Bosa). But with Purdy in the mix instead of Jimmy Garoppolo, maybe the 49ers have a better shot to win it this time.

3. Another 1980s Reboot: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (+301)

The History

We almost got this matchup last year, but the 49ers blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game. That broke up having the stat that all three Cincinnati Super Bowls coming against the 49ers after losing to them in the 1981 and 1988 seasons.

But three out of four would still be amusing, and maybe the Bengals can win this one behind another of their top quarterbacks in Joe Burrow. He will not win MVP like Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason did in 1981 and 1988, but he probably will put up more points than they did in the big game.

These teams did also play an exciting overtime game in the 2021 regular season, won 26-23 by the 49ers in Cincinnati.

The Narrative Push

As with the previous matchup, there would be a ton of attention on Purdy making history as a rookie. However, the mainstream media would likely be tossing around the “dynasty” word for the Bengals before they even have a ring in hand.

Hopefully, the story here will be that no two teams have ever entered the Super Bowl on such long winning streaks. The 49ers would be riding a 13-game winning streak and the Bengals would be riding an 11-game winning streak. The previous best for a Super Bowl matchup was when the 2001 Rams and Patriots both entered with eight-game winning streaks. This would blow that away with both teams in double digits.

Remember, the 49ers were 3-4 after the Kansas City loss and the Bengals were 4-4 after their last loss on Halloween to the Browns. These teams have not lost since.

For Impartial Fans, Why Should You Root for This Matchup?

It would be interesting to see what the Bengals learned from last year’s experience of losing the Super Bowl. We rarely get to see the loser immediately return to one like this, especially for a team that is this young.

We also get to see if Purdy can get the job done against the defense that eliminated Josh Allen and Mahomes on the road in these playoffs.

If Burrow is the “Joe Cool” some like to call him, then maybe the Bengals can break San Francisco’s heart this time instead of the other way around twice in the 1980s when Joe Montana did it to them in Super Bowls.

But would it not be hilarious and shake up the whole league to see Purdy win a Super Bowl as a seventh-round rookie? This team paid Jimmy Garoppolo and traded a fortune for Trey Lance, only to strike unexpected gold with Mr. Irrelevant. Root for that chaos next year if the 49ers win this game.

2. The Andy Reid Bowl: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs (+250)

The History

These teams have only met nine times, including a 42-30 win by the Chiefs in 2021. But this would be a celebration of Andy Reid most likely. He coached for the Eagles from 1999-2012, then he went to Kansas City and has done nothing but win for the last decade with 10 winning seasons.

If fans of the Eagles had to lose a Super Bowl to an AFC team, Reid’s Chiefs would probably be their least hostile reaction.

The Narrative Push

There is no overbearing angle here, but Nick Sirianni being able to win a Super Bowl in his second season by beating Reid, who came up short every time with the Eagles, would be a huge win for him and his place in Philadelphia sports history.

You also have a quarterback battle where some are going to feel Jalen Hurts was snubbed for MVP because he was injured, so this game could serve as the real MVP case. Not something many would agree with, but for some people that is going to be a thing here with Mahomes and Hurts likely finishing as the top two in MVP votes.

For Impartial Fans, Why Should You Root for This Matchup?

We already watched Mahomes carve up the No. 1 overall defense in San Francisco in Week 7. It would be fun to see him go up against the No. 1 pass defense with 70 sacks this year.

The Chiefs are No. 2 with 55 sacks, and they would have their hands full with Hurts and that talented offense of the Eagles. These teams look a lot different from their early 2021 versions when Tyreek Hill destroyed the secondary in that 42-30 win. It would be an exciting, fresh game on the big stage.

1. Cheesesteaks vs. Chili: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cincinnati Bengals (+202)

The History

Judging by the food title here, there is not much history to speak of between these two franchises. But does anyone remember when they played to a 13-13 tie in 2008 and Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb did not know games could end in a tie? They would also play to a 23-23 tie in 2020, the most recent meeting and the third start of Burrow’s career.

At least Super Bowl 57 cannot end in a tie.

The Narrative Push

Obvious, isn’t it? Will Joe Burrow get destroyed by the defense with 70 sacks? Over his last 30 games, Burrow is 21-1 when he does not take five sacks and 1-7 when he is sacked five or more times. Get used to hearing that stat more, with Sunday’s outcome included, if the Bengals advance to this Super Bowl.

Aaron Donald led the charge in Super Bowl 56 with the Rams collecting seven sacks of Burrow, but it was Donald’s fourth-down pressure that sealed the game for the Rams. Burrow would have to face yet another elite defense on the big stage.

For Impartial Fans, Why Should You Root for This Matchup?

That matchup we just described would be worth the price of admission as the Eagles have the pass rushing depth to get the job done, and they have the outside corners (Darius Slay and James Bradberry) to contain Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. It would be a very good matchup on that side of the ball.

The other side is not too shabby either with the way the Bengals have been successfully game planning against top offenses in the postseason the last two years. The Eagles are a much different beast though with a great running game and a fast quarterback who can also pass to great receiving options. They are arguably harder to defend than a Buffalo or Kansas City because of their versatility.

This matchup is the odds-on favorite to happen with both teams favored this week. While it ranks last in recent history and historical relevance, it might be the best matchup on both sides of the ball.

By Sunday night, we will know what we will be talking about for the next two weeks in Super Bowl 57.

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