There are plenty of nifty Super Bowl scenarios still possible, one of the best being Phil Simms vs. Jeff Hostetler in a matchup of quarterbacks who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl victories.
To get that far this time, Simms and Hostetler both need to win Saturday.Simms, who emerged as the winner in the Giants quarterback controversy, will be in San Francisco to take on the 49ers in an NFC semifinal.
Hostetler, who left New York and signed with the Los Angeles Raiders as a free agent, will be in Buffalo to play the Bills in an AFC semifinal.
Another neat Super Bowl matchup would feature Joe Montana against his old team, the 49ers and quarterback Steve Young.
For that to happen, Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs need to win at Houston on Sunday in the AFC. In the other NFC game, Green Bay is at Dallas.
"What's great is it's worked out for everybody," Simms said. "Joe's in Kansas City playing in the playoffs. Jeff's in Los Angeles; it's worked out good for him. And it's worked out for me here."
"I've gotten to know Steve a little. I want to beat him just as much as I wanted to beat Joe. You don't have to say anything about him after these three years he's put up. Everybody's measuring against him now."
Montana was a three-time MVP in the Super Bowl and won four titles overall. Simms was MVP in the Giants' win over Denver in the 1987 Super Bowl and Hostetler starred in the Giants' victory over Buffalo for the 1991 championship.
Young, meanwhile, is hoping to play in his first title game. Last year, his first as a starter after succeeding Montana, he was the NFL's MVP, but committed six turnovers in two playoff games. He was intercepted twice in San Francisco's 30-20 loss to Dallas in the NFC championship.
This year, he was the league's passing champion.
"You can win MVPs and passing titles, but now there's something more," Young said. "That doesn't take away from those things, but it leaves something to go after. I am excited about trying to do that.
"I think everyone wants to be a Super Bowl quarterback. Joe (Montana) is the classic. Four out of four. We went to the playoffs nine times during that time. You're going to get your shots. You've got to hopefully take them when you can. This is another one."
The 49ers are the league's highest-scoring team, while the Giants allowed the fewest points.
"It's going to be a very close, guarded, efficient-type game," Young said. "Each possession we have to come away with some points. That's going to be a tough chore because their defense plays well. They make you earn it all the way down the field."
The Bills, losers in the last three Super Bowls, begin this season's playoffs at home against the Raiders. Los Angeles was the last team to win in Bufffalo, 25-24 on Dec. 5.
Saturday's forecast for Buffalo calls for the coldest weekend of the winter. The temperatues will be around zero, and the wind chill could be 40 below. Snow is predicted, of course.
"I think these fair-weather fans in cities with domed stadiums don't know the real thrill of football," said Robert Wall, who works part-time shoveling snow at Rich Stadium. "When it's cold and the fans are here and there's a playoff game in Buffalo, you can't beat it."