We're almost there! The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is coming this weekend and eight teams are left -- only two will be going to Houston for Super Bowl LI on FOX Feb. 5.
But which teams do we really want to see in the big game?
There are a lot of factors involved, of course: history, animosity between the franchises, star power, cool uniforms, Twitter followings, you name it. Of the field remaining, there are certainly some Super Bowl combinations that will generate more excitement than others … and some that, well, let's just say that we hope Lady Gaga can keep us entertained at halftime.
Let's break down all 16 possible Super Bowl permutations and see which showdowns would be must-see-TV. (These are listed in order of what the perceived fan interest might be; the chances of each matchup happening are sourced from Football Outsiders playoff odds.)
16. Texans vs. Falcons
Odds it will happen: 0.6%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Low on both accounts. Although, let's face it, the local market would be going nuts, since the Super Bowl will be at NRG Stadium. Only twice in history has an NFL team had "home field" advantage at the Super Bowl: the 49ers (Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium) and the old Los Angeles Rams (Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl). Never has a team played at its own stadium.
Team connections: Plenty! Atlanta backup quarterback Matt Schaub was a starter for the Texans for seven years. In 2008, Houston's offensive and defensive coordinators were Kyle Shanahan and Richard Smith; Shanahan and Smith are the current coordinators for the Falcons. Scott Pioli, Atlanta's assistant GM, and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien both worked for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for a few years. Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed played for the Texans for the first four seasons of his career.
Storylines driven into the ground: Who will win their first Super Bowl? These are the only two teams still alive in the playoffs to have never won the Super Bowl. So there's plenty at stake. The problem is, these aren't exactly marquee NFL franchises. And, while both squads are loaded with talent, we're not quite sure how to sell "MATT RYAN VS. BROCK OSWEILER!"
Likely media day quote: "I'm not bitter." -- Osweiler feeling feisty that he's led a team to the Super Bowl a year after his old squad, the Broncos, essentially cut him loose.
Quality of game: Houston's strength is defense and Atlanta's weakness is its defense, meaning that if you really wanted to make an argument for this being the NFC team that the Texans could beat, you could do it. But, despite the home crowd, it would be tough to stop Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Falcons 35, Houston 10. Julio gets the edge over Ryan with a Super Bowl-record 210 yards.
15. Chiefs vs. Falcons
Odds it will happen: 6.8%
Ratings/level of fan interest: We're honestly kind of falling asleep just thinking about it.
Team connections: Atlanta defensive lineman Tyson Jackson was the third overall pick by Kansas City in 2009. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff was a part-time scout for the Chiefs in 1993, his first job in the NFL. Director of pro personnel Jeff Collier was an assistant GM for Kansas City from 2009 to 2013.
Storylines driven into the ground: Maybe a lot of focus on Andy Reid finally getting a ring vs. Matt Ryan trying to prove himself as a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Likely media day quote: "I am the walrus." -- Reid on his moustache, trying to liven things up.
Quality of game: Atlanta could win this game by 30 points, and the Falcons aren't even that good. Even though Atlanta's defense isn't its strength, especially struggling against the run, it could focus attention on Spencer Ware to force Alex Smith to beat them. Meanwhile, Kansas City's average defense would get eaten alive by Ryan.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Falcons 36, Chiefs 7. Ryan does his thing against KC's defense.
14: Texans vs. Seahawks
Odds it will happen: 0.2%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Fairly low. The Hawks have won a title recently and the Texans don't inspire a ton of national loyalty.
Team connections: Other than having a thrilling game in 2013 in which Richard Sherman had a pick-six off Schaub to tie the score in the final minutes, these two squads are barely in the same NFL orbit. That would be another reason for "meh" ratings: no ill feelings on either side.
Storylines driven into the ground: Maybe Jadeveon Clowney talks smack about Russell Wilson? Otherwise, it's more of a "franchise playing at home field" thing.
Likely media day quote: "I'm just glad I have something to do." -- Sherman, talking about being one of the only Seattle players with an important job: having to cover DeAndre Hopkins.
Quality of game: Though Seattle has had an up-and-down season, the Texans are mostly just down. Perhaps anything would be possible if they got to this point (after all, it would have mean they would have beaten the hated Patriots), but at best this game would be marred with mistakes. It might be tough to watch, but the Seahawks would likely win. Could be one of the worst Super Bowls ever.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Seattle 20, Houston 6. MVP Thomas Rawls has 175 yards.
GIF that keeps on GIFin':
13. Texans vs. Packers
Odds it will happen: 0.3%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Low, if not necessarily rock bottom. This game would be tuned out within the first half, but it would feature one of the NFL's most storied franchises. Also, maybe the Texans turn into America's darlings? Again … making it this far means they got by the freakin' Pats! That could also mean the biggest upset of the postseason already happened.
Team connections: Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was the Texans first head coach from 2002 to 2005. Green Bay's senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith was the third overall pick in 1987, being drafted by the Houston Oilers as their running back of the future. It did not work out.
Storylines driven into the ground: Capers goes against his former team.
Likely media day quote: "R-E-L-A-X-E-D" -- Aaron Rodgers, when asked how he's feeling about his chances of winning ring number two.
Quality of game: Houston's best weapon at this point is Clowney, which is why Green Bay would win this game by 40. We saw in the Wild Card round how easily the Packers offensive line handled the New York Giants pass rush, so when they do it against Clowney, how the hell are the Texans going to win? Certainly not because of quarterback play.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Packers 50, Texans 0. An easy Super Bowl MVP for Rodgers, which is the MVP award he'd really like to win anyway.
12. Chiefs vs. Seahawks
Odds it will happen: 2.4%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Moderate. Perhaps a good game for "strategy fans," but lacking in explosive plays, turnovers.
Team connections: Seattle GM John Schneider and Kansas City GM John Dorsey were both plucked from the Ted Thompson executive tree in Green Bay. Seattle backup safety Kelcie McCray was acquired via trade from the Chiefs, while Kansas City has three notable former Seahawks: starting safety Ron Parker, starting running back Spencer Ware, and injured defensive tackle Jaye Howard.
Storylines driven into the ground: Sweet revenge … Ware going for a Super Bowl championship over the team that released him after only one season and who could have desperately used him this year.
Likely media day quote: "They're gonna miss me, but follow me on Twitter." -- Earl Thomas on missing a chance to play against the only safety who went ahead of him in the 2010 draft: Eric Berry.
Quality of Game: OK, but not spectacular. Chiefs pass rushers would harass Wilson all day, and the Seahawks would definitely hold Smith out of the end zone. This has a 9-3 score written all over it. Defense is fine, but neither team has enough offensive firepower to make it interesting. There's a difference between close and interesting.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Chiefs 9, Seahawks 3, and Berry wins MVP with a couple of INTs.
GIF that keeps on GIFin':
11. Steelers vs. Falcons
Odds it will happen: 5.9%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Decent. With Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Julio, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Freeman, Vic Beasley, James Harrison, there are plenty of stars on both sides of the field.
Team connections: Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel was an assistant coach in Atlanta from 1997 to 2000.
Storylines driven into the ground: There would be a lot of talk about comparing Ben and Matt. Otherwise, this game may be less about "storylines" and more about matchups, of which there are many notable ones, including AB vs. Jones.
Likely media day quote: "We won't blow a 3-1 lead. I don't even think you can score just one point." -- Bell, who compared himself to Steph Curry following the Steelers Wild Card win.
Quality of game: This makes for a pretty good game. Two high-powered offenses with savvy coaches … you're unlikely to see either team pull away from the other before the final six minutes.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Steelers, 34, Falcons 31. Bell rushes for 110, catches five passes for 65 and scores three times against a really bad run defense.
10. Patriots vs. Falcons
Odds it will happen: 18%
Ratings/level of fan interest: High-ish. This is the second-most likely Super Bowl to happen, per Football Outsiders, but beyond the "Pats hate factor," there may not be much juice. It seems like the experience on New England's side would give it a comfortable advantage.
Team connections: Falcons defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson was drafted by New England and played for them from 1991 to 1993, and again in 1996. Atlanta defensive line coach Bryan Cox helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl as a player, in 2001. Falcons assistant to the head coach (think Dwight from "The Office" for that title) Steve Scarnecchia has an interesting connection to New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: When an assistant under McDaniels in Denver, Scarnecchia was fired after videotaping a 49ers walkthrough practice prior to a game.
Storylines driven into the ground: The No. 1 offense against the No. 1 scoring defense. Tom Brady's MVP case against Ryan's.
Likely media day quote: "I still had more fantasy points." -- LeGarrette Blount ahead of the game in reference to Freeman. "Was it a PPR though?" responds Freeman, because if it was, no he didn't.
Quality of game: Brady would dismantle Atlanta's defense sans Desmond Trufant, Blount would have his way at the goal line and the Falcons high-powered offense would be limited against Belichick's defense.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: New England 31, Atlanta 17. Blount, who rushes for four touchdowns.
9. Texans vs. Cowboys
Odds it will happen: 0.9%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Pretty high because of the intrastate rivalry, but most outside fans would be enraged at the idea of actually having to watch an all-Texas Super Bowl. The 'Boys are always good for business, though.
Team connections: Houston backup quarterback Brandon Weeden made four starts for the Cowboys from 2014-2015, going 0-4. That would really be more revenge for Dallas than for Weeden. Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin and Texans guard Nick Martin (on IR) are brothers. Ezekiel Elliott's running backs coach Gary Brown played for the Houston Oilers from 1991 to 1995. The vaunted Dallas offensive line is coached by Frank Pollack, who was an assistant o-line coach for the Texans from 2007 to 2011.
Storylines driven into the ground: Any and all things Texas. Joe Buck will have barbeque sauce in his stubble the whole broadcast.
Likely media day quote: "I guess things don't look too bad over there." -- Cowboys QB Tony Romo on his potential trade to Houston following the game.
Quality of game: The Dallas offensive line would neutralize any effect Clowney could have; Elliott would run for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Cowboys 37, Texans 0, Elliott runs wild.
GIF that keeps on GIFin':
8. Patriots vs Seahawks
Odds it will happen: 6.4%
Ratings/level of fan interest: High. Ratings excellent, even if not a record. Despite many fans insistent that they want no part of a 2014 rematch, the truth is that the Pats-Hawks game two years ago was arguably the most exciting Super Bowl of all time. Fans would watch, just for the spectacle.
Team connections: Pete Carroll coached New England for three years before being fired and replaced by Belichick in 2000. This led to Carroll building a college dynasty at USC, while Belichick built an NFL dynasty in New England. Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett are famously known to be the league's most quotable and interesting brothers.
Storylines driven into the ground: Super Bowl 49's final play.
Likely media day quote: "We're gonna run it." -- Carroll, when asked what he's going to do if Seattle is at the one-yard line with a chance to win the game. Ultimately, he'll still decide to pass it.
Quality of game: It was only two months ago that these two teams played maybe the best game of the season, with the Seahawks winning in Foxborough, 31-24, on Sunday Night Football. Both teams would be missing a key player from that game -- Rob Gronkowski for the Pats, Thomas for the Hawks -- so it evens out. This would be a great game, maybe on par with Clemson-Alabama II.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: New England 36, Seattle 34, Julian Edelman with 15 receptions. The Patriots take the lead with :50 seconds left and Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka has a game-winning field goal blocked at the 45-yard line.
7. Steelers vs. Seahawks
Odds it will happen: 2.1%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Another rematch (the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, 21-10). Looking at these two teams right now, Pittsburgh has three stars on offense, Seattle has a few stars on defense, specifically upfront with Cliff Avril, Bennett and Frank Clark; no trio in the NFL had more combined sacks than they did.
Team connections: Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler played his entire career -- 146 games from 1978 to 1987 -- with the Seahawks. Steelers reserve linebacker L.J. Fort had a short stint with Seattle in 2014.
Storylines driven into the ground: How the refs will do as compared to Super Bowl XL.
Likely media day quote: "You want to talk to me again?!" - Seahawks linebackers coach Lofa Tatupu, 11 years after he helped guide Seattle to the Super Bowl as a rookie.
Quality of game: This would be a good game between maybe the two most talented teams in the league, even if both are also inherently flawed right now.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Seahawks 27, Steelers 26. Bobby Wagner wins MVP for helping Seattle shutdown Bell with its elite run defense.
6. Chiefs vs. Packers
Odds it will happen: 3.1%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Sneaky great. There are a number of threads to be made between the two squads, and you have some good defensive players against Rodgers.
Team connections: Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was an offensive assistant in Kansas City from 1993 to 1998. Packers special teams coach Ron Zook was the Chiefs special teams coach in 1999. Green Bay QB coach Alex Van Pelt was a QB for the Chiefs in 1993. Packers VP of football operations Russ Ball spent his first ten seasons in the NFL as an assistant coach with Kansas City. Director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst began as an assistant scout with the Chiefs.
Storylines driven into the ground: Super Bowl I: 50 years later. These two teams met in the first Super Bowl, with the Packers winning, 35-10. The game was recently broadcast for the first time. Green Bay won again the next year while Kansas City won the Super Bowl for the first (and last) time in 1969.
Likely media day quote: "I'm still alive." -- Chiefs legend Len Dawson, who was the starting quarterback for Kansas City in Super Bowl I and IV. He's now 81. Leave him alone, 2017.
Quality of game: This is one where the Chiefs would definitely be the underdogs and could pull out an "upset," but this would also be just some good old-fashioned football.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Green Bay 30, Kansas City 23. Rodgers, of course.
5. Patriots vs. Packers
Odds it will happen: 8.4%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Arguably would be the most-watched of the 16 possible Super Bowl matchups. Fans will eat up a Rodgers-Brady Super Bowl with all the implications it will have about their respective "legacies."
Team connections: Capers was an assistant under Belichick in New England in 2008.
Storylines driven into the ground: The matchups may be more centered on Belichick vs. Rodgers than Belichick vs. McCarthy or Rodgers vs. Brady. They might be the two most important figures in the NFL over the past 10 years.
Likely media day quote: "Jesus Christ. I can't even do this anymore." -- Belichick responding to a reporter's question if he will put in Jimmy Garoppolo if Brady starts to show his age in the first half.
Quality of game: New England is the better overall team but Rodgers seems to be playing his own game right now different from the rest of the league. For that reason, it would be a hotly contested battle, but I could also see a scenario in which the Patriots win by three touchdowns.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: New England 31, Green Bay 27. Brady wins MVP by out-dueling Rodgers, only by a hair.
4. Chiefs vs. Cowboys
Odds it will happen: 9.3%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Two extremely talented teams, with a boost because of national Dallas interest. We may have this higher on our list than most, but there's a lot to like.
Team connections: Dallas corner Brandon Carr spent four seasons with the Chiefs before signing a five-year, $50.1 million contract with the Cowboys in 2012. The Cowboys only exist because the late Lamar Hunt brought pro football to Texas with the AFL and the Dallas Texans. The NFL's response was to expand into Dallas in order to drive the Texans out of business, and then Hunt moved them to Kansas City, renamed them the Chiefs, and three years later the two leagues merged.
Storylines driven into the ground: The fact that the Cowboys only exist because of the Chiefs. And then of course would come back decades later in this case and destroy them for a sixth Super Bowl championship.
Likely media day quote: "Everything's coming up Carr!" -- Brandon Carr on getting massively overpaid and then winning a Super Bowl championship.
Quality of game: Assuming that the Cowboys offensive line can contain Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and the Kansas City pass rush, this should be a win for Dallas.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Cowboys 38, Chiefs 35. The MVP being Dak Prescott, capping off a remarkable season.
3. Steelers vs. Packers
Odds it will happen: 2.6%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Crazy good. And yet another rematch. Of course, there's a downside to the whole "grudge" thing: We got this game six years ago in the Super Bowl, with same head coaches, same quarterbacks … so there's not much "new" about this one. Still, two blue-blooded franchises going at it. Doesn't get much better.
Team connections: Green Bay defensive coordinator Capers held the same position with the Steelers from 1992 to 1994. Packers safeties coach Darren Perry played for the Steelers for seven seasons and was an assistant coach for them for four. Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was born in Pittsburgh and was a grad assistant at Pitt. Likewise, assistant head coach Tom Clements is from Pittsburgh, coaching QBs for the Steelers from 2001 to 2003.
Storylines driven into the ground: Can you guess? Super Bowl XLV part deux.
Likely media day quote: "We just have to stop the Packers from gaining yards on the ground with … uhhh … Alex Green? James Starks?" -- Steelers linebacker James Harrison trying to figure out who runs the ball for Green Bay these days since it seems to change every other week.
Quality of game: OK. Each quarterback may find enough holes on the defense of the other team to exploit, leading to a high-scoring, entertaining game.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Pittsburgh 38, Green Bay 30. Big Ben wins MVP as the three-headed monster proves too much for the Pack.
2. Steelers vs. Cowboys
Odds it will happen: 8.1%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Fantastic. Neither team has won enough in the last five years to make it that annoying of a matchup for those fatigued by the names, and you'd have a classic rivalry renewed with young stars on both teams.
Team connections: Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley was the Cowboys wide receivers coach from 2004 to 2006.
Storylines driven into the ground: "Old School Cool." This would be the fourth Super Bowl meeting between the Steelers and Cowboys, with Pittsburgh winning the first two before Dallas got its revenge in 1995.
Likely media day quote: "I think I was around for the last one." -- Harrison, wondering if maybe he was playing back in '95 when these two teams met in Super Bowl XXX. (He wasn't.)
Quality of game: Great. These squads match up really well and it should be a close one.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Cowboys 27, Steelers 22. Pittsburgh's offense is just slightly worse than that of Dallas, and Cowboys safety Byron Jones picks off Ben twice to win surprise MVP.
1. Patriots vs. Cowboys
Odds it will happen: 24.9%
Ratings/level of fan interest: Just about perfect, even if Football Outsiders has referred to it as the "43 States of Hatred" game because everyone outside of Texas and the six New England states do not want the team of the nineties to play the team of the 2000s.
Team connections: Dallas' strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik held the same position with the Patriots from 2000 to 2010; Woicik won three Super Bowls in the nineties with the Cowboys holding that same position, meaning he has six total Super Bowl rings. Dallas tight ends coach Mike Pope was an assistant in New England from 1994 to 1996. Guard Jonathan Cooper had a journey in 2016, being traded from the Cardinals to the Patriots before getting released, picked up by the Browns, waived, and then signed by Dallas on January 4.
Storylines driven into the ground: Just the fact that it's Cowboys-Patriots.
Likely media day quote: "I could tell you that we're going to execute participants from the Puppy Bowl in the third quarter and you'd still tune in." -- Martellus Bennett, maybe.
Quality of game: The Pats have a great run defense, limiting what Elliott could do, but their pass defense isn't good, meaning that Dak, the first rookie QB to start a Super Bowl, may put himself on another stratosphere. It would be a pretty great back-and-forth game.
Winner, Super Bowl MVP: Cowboys 24, Patriots 21. Prescott wins Super Bowl MVP less than a year after being a fourth-round pick. Sub-MVP: Romo, for allowing Dak to happen.