San Francisco provided a nice story this year. The Baltimore Ravens are a very tough team with several high-profile players. But the powers-that-be in the NFL have to be pleased as punch with the final results from today's match-ups for the AFC and NFC Championship as the New England Patriots and the New York Giants are headed to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis two weeks from today in the best match-up possible for the national audience and the scope of the game.
Think about the advertising possibilities that Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL can gain from this type of match-up. The largest market is represented with the Giants and their opponent is only the most successful franchise in the NFL over the last decade. The players involved are larger than life with Tom Brady a household name and Eli Manning bringing another widely known quarterback into the picture. There's no Alex Smith or Joe Flacco here. This is a Manning-Brady Super Bowl.
While diehard NFL fans -- or certainly fans of the particular teams that lost today -- would rather not see one of these teams or perhaps both, it's clear that for the sake of the most popular game, the best teams won today. More people will tune in to see this particular game that any other dynamic at play -- even if it would have been the Harbaugh bowl instead. It's Bill Belichick versus Tom Coughlin. Manning versus Brady. And a litany of other stories will come out over the next two weeks, discussing everything from the rise of Victor Cruz to the all-undrafted backfield of the Patriots.
These are also teams that are rather divisive, which means many of you might be saying that you hate seeing the Giants/Patriots succeed. Yet you have an opinion and that's what matters here. Divisive is good (just ask Jerry Jones if calling the moniker "America's Team" has ultimately been good for business.) The worst thing is to be irrelevant and neither one of these teams can be called that. This is the premiere contest that the NFL had to hope for and they got their wish. Indianapolis will be an interesting place to be this year.