If you believe the business of the NFL is ratings, then there are definitely some Super Bowl matchups that the NFL would prefer and prefer not to have. Check out these maps of Facebook likes for each playoff game:
Based on this data, can we assume:
Super Bowl Ratings Disasters:
1. San Diego vs Carolina – little public interest outside of 3 states
2. Seattle vs San Diego – A West Coast Super Bowl? (ESPN Would never allow it)
A couple wild cards here (no pun intended). San Diego in the Super Bowl would increase NFL interest in the Los Angeles area – where the NFL wants an expansion team, and will likely push for public support to build a stadium. Alternatively, Seattle could be positioned as the bad-guys of the NFL – call it the black-hat team – that could make for an interesting story line against good guy quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or even an up an coming star like Andrew Luck (I doubt the same storyline could be created around Philip Rivers of San Diego).
Super Bowl Ratings Winners
1. New Orleans vs New England – Tom Brady vs Drew Brees
2. Denver vs New Orleans – Peyton Manning vs Drew Brees
Denver vs New Orleans would provide a better national audience – Denver brings in more West Coast interest. Its all about the marquee quarterbacks. Therefor it might be interesting to introduce Andrew Luck to the national stage – start transitioning the marketing away from these aging quarterbacks. I doubt Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick is in the NFL’s long term marketing plans.
San Francisco would be a reasonable alternative for the Super Bowl – though New Orleans brings in the south plus the upper Midwest where Drew Brees was the star QB at Purdue.
So as I watch the playoffs progress – these are the storylines I am watching.