One Sunday. Two championship games. Four teams vying for a spot on the NFL’s biggest stage.
It’s Tennessee at Kansas City in the AFC, and Green Bay at San Francisco in the NFC.
And the league’s 100th season could end with a rematch of its first Super Bowl.
Fifty-three years after Green Bay played Kansas City at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the original Super Bowl, that could be the matchup again for Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
That Packers-Chiefs matchup would pit Kansas City coach Andy Reid against the franchise with which he got his NFL start. He was with Green Bay from 1992-98, beginning as an offensive assistant and working his way up to quarterbacks coach for eventual Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
The Chiefs used to stage their training camps in River Falls, Wis., and were part of the “Cheese League,” the nickname for the six teams that would spend their summers in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That was before the trend of teams staying home and holding camp at their own facilities. Chicago, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Minnesota and New Orleans were all Cheese Leaguers too.
John Dorsey, Packers linebacker for five seasons, was general manager of Reid’s Chiefs from 2013-16, and — if those goofy commercials are to be believed — quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes share the same insurance agent. OK, maybe not.
The Packers and Chiefs played Oct. 27, with Rodgers throwing for 305 yards and three touchdowns to beat Kansas City, 31-24. Matt Moore was playing quarterback for the Chiefs on that day because of a knee injury to Mahomes. Running back Aaron Jones did some serious damage to Kansas City in that game, especially catching passes out of the backfield.
This matchup would be rich with history. The Super Bowl trophy is named after legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi, and late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coined the term “Super Bowl,” as a twist on the Super Ball toy. What’s more, the Hunt Trophy is awarded to the AFC champion.
There would be far less history in a Super Bowl pitting Green Bay and Tennessee. However, Packers coach Matt LaFleur was offensive coordinator and play-caller for the Titans in 2018. He was the Rams’ non-play-calling offensive coordinator in 2017.
Green Bay and Nashville are among the league’s smallest markets, and there are notable people who have worked for both clubs — among them quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and players-turned-executives Mike Reinfeldt and Ted Thompson, both of whom played for the Houston Oilers, the team that became the Titans.
The Packers and Titans last faced each other in 2016, when Tennessee scored 21 points in the first quarter on its way to a 47-25 rout in Nashville.
Likewise, a San Francisco-Tennessee Super Bowl wouldn’t be overflowing with obvious story lines. Both franchises are known for their iconic moments in the playoffs — the 49ers and “The Catch,” and the Titans with the “Music City Miracle” — but they aren’t unique in those.
The two quarterbacks in a potential 49ers-Titans matchup came from AFC East teams, with San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo beginning in New England, and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill in Miami.
C.J. Beathard, third-string quarterback for the 49ers, is from Franklin, Tenn., a half-hour drive south of Nashville, and he received the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football award when he was in high school.
The fourth possible combination is San Francisco vs. Kansas City, which would pit the two teams of Joe Montana. After winning four Super Bowls with the 49ers, that legendary quarterback spent the 1993-94 seasons with the Chiefs.
Montana wore No. 16 with the 49ers, but opted not to continue that in Kansas City, even though Hall of Famer Len Dawson offered his No. 16. Kicker Jan Stenerud also offered to let him wear his No. 3, Montana’s jersey at Notre Dame. But Montana chose No. 19, his number from youth football.
Defensive end Dee Ford, acquired by San Francisco last offseason, spent his first five seasons with Kansas City, and made a critical error in last year’s AFC championship game. He was flagged for being offside late in the game against the Patriots, wiping out a Kansas City interception that likely would have sealed the victory. New England wound up winning.
The 49ers and Chiefs have their two best tight ends in football in George Kittle and Travis Kelce, and Kansas City is where Garoppolo suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 3 of the 2018 season.