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The Ultimate Super Bowl Uni Matchup Rankings (Part III)

As we approach Super Bowl LVIII (aka Supe 58), it’s time for a ranking of every SB uniform pairing ever played, going from worst to first. Of course, these rankings are largely subjective, and I’m sure you won’t agree with the order of my selections. After literally hours of finding and grading all 57 games played to date, I’ve come to the conclusion that ranking games ain’t easy — sure, there are some stinkers and some absolute all time glorious-looking games, but the middle-of-the-pack uni matchups can be a bit tricky.

For my rankings, the most important criterion is how both uniforms look together; we can have games where one of the two uniforms is fantastic, but the other is not. By and large, two good uniforms opposing one another will rank higher than just a single great uni. But there are times when both uniforms may look tremendous individually, but when paired together, the matchup as a whole isn’t as good as the individual parts. Where a game was played (as well as time of day) also factors into it: dimly lit dome games are likely to rank lower than games begun in sunshine, with all other factors being equal. Colors also play a part: if two teams have essentially the same colors, that may either work for or against the overall matchup, depending on where they appear (helmet, jersey, pants). Finally uniform styles — be they classic or modern — will affect the rankings. Two things that are not considered in the uni matchups will be the quality (or final score) of the game (close games and blowouts are factored equally), nor will a team’s success in a uniform be considered. For example, the Patriots’ “Flying Elvis” uniforms of the Brady years may have been successful in terms of Super Bowl appearances, but that factor alone does not for a good uniform make. Conversely, many Broncos fans may consider the orange jersey “cursed” but that will not affect their rankings in terms of being a good or bad uniform.

The Rankings will be divided into four parts, in ascending order — last Saturday we looked at the 14 “worst” matchups, followed by the third-best 14 on Sunday. Today it’s the second best 14 (which are all pretty to very good, just not quite Top 15), and on Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll finish up with the best 15 best uni matchups in SB history.

Remember, it’s all subjective, so feel free to disagree in the comments below.

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#29: SB 57
Kansas City vs. Philadelphia

As noted above, the games from here on in are all pretty-to-very good, and last year’s contest between KC and Philly checks the mostly good boxes. While I prefer KC in white jerseys and pants, even I can’t deny their white over red is still a good look. The Eagles’ penchant for wearing solid white socks/tights with white pants (and they’re far from alone in this new fashion statement) keeps this game from ranking any higher.

#28: SB 21
Denver vs. New York

The New York Football Giants made their first Supe appearance following one of the greatest regular seasons in league history, led by Phil Simms and LT, with the game taking place in sunny Pasadena. No real complaints about this game, uni-wise, but the white pants and low-whites worn high with white shoes were less than optimal.

#27: SB 25
Buffalo vs. New York

While not a carbon-copy of SB 21, this one again featured the G-men facing off against a team whose helmet was a different color from their home jersey. Considered by some to be one of the best Supes ever, the phrase “Wide Right” would forever become part of Buffalo’s legacy.

#26 SB 37
Oakland vs. Tampa Bay

Just imagine how great this game would have looked had Tampa Bay still worn their Bucco Bruce uniforms. Unfortunately, a few years prior the team switched to their pewter and red look, which featured actual pewter back then. And as classic and good as da Raidahs have looked since the mid-1960s, their silver/white/silver isn’t nearly as good as when they wear black jerseys.

#25: SB 11
Oakland vs. Minnesota

Super Bowls played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena always look good, so the Purple People Eaters and Raiders looked about as good as they could. I don’t hate purple like a certain someone, but I prefer purples that are closer to red than blue, so I’ve never loved their look either. Still, this was an attractive matchup, and the fourth of four Super Bowl losses for Minnesota.

#24: SB 24
San Francisco vs. Denver

As opposed to the above game, which looked better due to its being played in the Rose Bowl, this game was played inside the dreary and dank Superdome, which dulled both teams’ vibrant hues. Both teams have a great set of unis. I just wish it weren’t played on a old-school miniature golf course-like surface.

#23 SB 35
Baltimore vs. New York

I like the Ravens in white over white, and I personally think the G-men in blue over gray is their best look, so this one was quite attractive in my eyes. The stifling defense of the Ravens gave the Giants their only Super Bowl loss, but at least Big Blue were in their Sunday best.

#22: SB 16
San Francisco vs. Cincinnati

There are only a few times when a team introduces a new uniform that is profoundly better than what it replaced, and the Cincinnati Bengals are Exhibit A in this category. The modern classics Who Dey sported in this game nicely complimented SF’s classics, and this game would have ranked even higher were it not for the old Pontiac Silverdome’s less than pleasing aesthetics.

#21: SB 26
Washington vs. Buffalo

Buffalo would return to the Supe after losing to the Giants, for their second of four consecutive appearances, and matched up against Washington in what many consider their most classic look. Another really nice pair of unis that would have looked better if the game weren’t played inside the Homer Dome.

#20: SB 28
Dallas vs. Buffalo

Another uni-rematch (the second of two consecutive) took place inside the Georgia Dome between the Cowboys and Bills, and would be Buffalo’s fourth consecutive loss in the big game. Unfortunately for Buffalo, this sparked a few “What’s Buffalo’s new area code? Oh-For-Four!” jokes, and made the Vikings feel just a bit better, since their four losses weren’t in consecutive seasons.

#19: SB 27
Buffalo vs. Dallas

The uniforms may have been the same as the game above, but this one looked infinitely better since they played it in the warm California sun of the Rose Bowl. This game would be the first of three Supe wins in four years for the team with the lone star on their helmets.

#18: SB 23
Cincinnati vs. San Francisco

Supe 23 was a rematch of Supe 16, only the home and road designations were reversed. Both teams sported their best ever uniforms in a fabulous game on a warm Miami evening.

#17: SB 17
Miami at Washington

As we close in on the Top 15, we get another really good looking game between Miami and Washington (their second meeting, although this would not be a uni rematch). Another glorious game played in sunny Pasadena would feature revenge for DC, who had fallen to Miami during the Dolphins’ perfect season.

#16: SB 44
New Orleans vs. Indianapolis

It’s hard to believe that a team which hasn’t changed its uniforms in years could look so good a decade and a half ago, but are almost universally reviled today. But that’s the case with the New Orleans Saints who looked lovely in their gold/white/gold against Indy’s white/blue/white. How far have the Saints unis fallen? They didn’t even wear that combo once during this year’s regular season.

• • • • •
And there you have it — the not-quite-best uni matchups, but still some very good pairings. I’ll have the Top 15 best tomorrow as we get set for SB 58.

As I mentioned at the outset, feel free to disagree in the comments below.

Comments (10)

    It’s a shame that Washington has never worn burgundy over yellow in all their SB appearances. Easily their best look ever.

    Dang! How could I forget THAT game?! That’s what I get for posting first. Great lists by the way!

    I’d rank Saints-Colts a little higher, certainly higher than some of those that I know by process of elimination will be in the top 15….

    I agree. Both of these uniforms are some of my favorites. It’s amazing that the Saints can go from maybe my favorite uniforms, or at least top 5, to one of my least favorite, by changing the pants to black.

    And as far as the Saints Unis having “fallen” since their Super Bowl win, it’s entirely because of one element, and we all know what it is.

    One thing that has hurt the aesthetics of the Super Bowl is the later starting times, especially when the game is in the Eastern Time Zone. At least tomorrow the game will start at 3:30 PST in Vegas. I wonder if the roof will be open, with the forecast calling for sunny but a bit cold for Vegas with a high of 54.

    XXI *could* have been one of the best ever. It isn’t, entirely because of one element, and we all know what it is.

    Found myself agreeing with Phil quite a bit, including liking the Ravens in black/white/white, and that XXIII featured the Niners and Bengals in their best ever looks.

    XI was a different story. That’s still my favorite Vikings uni, mismatched purple and all. Their road look was even better, and I’m glad we’ll be seeing it tomorrow in the Top 15.
    XI was last time two straight-on kickers faced off in a Super Bowl, by the way.

    I don’t know if it was the film grade of the era, or the age I was in some of these games, but Super Bowls 21-27 just have always really stood out to me. It doesn’t hurt that the matchups are all rock solid with Buffalo, Giants, Cowboys, Washington, SF, Denver etc.

    70s matchups were clearly just as good. But there is something very special to me about those mid/late 80s and early 90s games.

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