We’re on the eve of the NFL playoffs, and for the first time since 2008 and the New England Patriots will not participate. While this means a few comparatively stress-free weekends ahead for fans and journalists alike, it also creates a different question not asked around these parts of the country for a long time: Who to root for in the postseason?
Let’s try to find an answer by looking at all 14 teams participating in this year’s tournament, ranked by their respective seeds.
AFC: Pick your poison
- Why you should root for the Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now and he’s leading an offense that is not just ultra-productive but also fun to watch. Also, Andy Reid seems like a genuinely nice guy.
- Why you should not root for the Chiefs: Kansas City would become the first repeat champions since the 2004 Patriots. This would only add more fuel to the Patrick Mahomes Hype Machine and the Chiefs dynasty talk that are already running overtime on ESPN.
Why you should root for the Bills: Few fan bases in football have suffered more heartbreak than the Bills’ over the years, and yet #BillsMafia stood by the team through
thick andthin. And after losing back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls in the early 1990s they now have another very good team worthy of a trophy. Buffalo is due for one.
- Why you should not root for the Bills: A Patriots division rival winning the Super Bowl has not happened since the 1973 Miami Dolphins. Why should such a beautiful streak end now?
- Why you should root for the Steelers: Former Patriots second-round draft pick Adrian Klemm is currently working as Pittsburgh’s assistant offensive line coach. Him getting a ring would be nice, but that’s about it.
- Why you should not root for the Steelers: Pittsburgh winning another title would break the current tie with the Patriots atop the NFL’s all-time standings: the two are currently tied with six Lombardi Trophies.
- Why you should root for the Titans: There are plenty of Patriots connections in Tennessee — from head coach Mike Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson to cornerback Malcolm Butler and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The Titans would also be a first-time winner after famously coming one yard short in Super Bowl 34.
- Why you should not root for the Titans: The Titans ended the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era in New England early last year. Other than that, there’s really not much speaking against them.
- Why you should root for the Ravens: Lamar Jackson is one of the most spectacular players in the NFL, and he is certainly deserving of leading a team to a Super Bowl. New England also beat Baltimore this year, adding a nice “at least we beat the champs” touch to the 2020 season.
- Why you should not root for the Ravens: Deflategate. Complaining about odd formations. Knocking the Patriots from the playoffs twice. Pick your reason, and let’s move on.
- Why you should root for the Browns: The Browns are competing with the Bills for the title of heartbreak champions, so this could finally be their shot at redemption. Cleveland also is a historic football town still waiting for its first Super Bowl. It’s just about time for one.
- Why you should not root for the Browns: Other than “the town was once not nice to Bill Belichick even though he had nothing to do with the relocation debacle of the mid 1990s” there is really no reason to root against the Browns. Maybe you don’t want another first-time champ to bring the list of title-less teams down?
- Why you should root for the Colts: Philip Rivers will always stand in the shadows of Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger coming out of the 2004 draft. Him winning a Super Bowl, even if with the Colts, would solidify his legacy as a great quarterback in his own right. Also, Jacoby Brissett is on the team.
- Why you should not root for the Colts: The Patriots and Colts have a long, animosity-filled history. It even has its own Wikipedia page if you want to read more about it. That’s all you need to know.
Who will you be rooting for in the AFC?
This poll is closed
NFC: Pretty obvious, eh?
- Why you should root for the Packers: Few cities in the league have as rich a legacy when it comes to pro football as Green Bay. If you’re a fan of the sport’s history and one of its most storied franchises, root for the Packers. Also, they have been playing some pretty good football this year and went 13-3 for a reason.
- Why you should not root for the Packers: Aaron Rodgers winning a second Super Bowl ring would somehow motivate the talking heads — who you shouldn’t listen to in the first place but whom you can’t escape — to reignite the old “Is he better than Brady?” question. Nobody wants that.
- Why you should root for the Saints: It seems likely that the 2020 season is Drew Brees’ last in the NFL, so seeing one of the league’s most prolific passers ride into the sunset with a second Super Bowl win would be nice. Also, winning a title in a division rival’s stadium surely must feel good.
- Why you should not root for the Saints: Drew Brees winning a second Super Bowl ring would somehow motivate the talking heads — who you shouldn’t listen to in the first place but whom you can’t escape — to reignite the old “Is he better than Brady?” question. Nobody wants that.
- Why you should root for the Seahawks: It seems unlikely that the next season will be opened with fans in the stands, but if that happens there is probably no better place (outside of Foxborough) to kick off a new season than Seattle. Also, a title would be the fitting end for a year filled with #LetRussCook cries.
- Why you should not root for the Seahawks: Their defense has played some bad football this season and certainly does not appear to be Super Bowl caliber. The same thing happened to the 2011 Patriots, so it would just be fair if the Seahawks fell short as well.
- Why you should root for the Football Team: The Football Team bringing the Super Bowl to the dumpster fire that is the current NFC East would be fun. Also, doing it with a name that is a placeholder would make it even more hilarious.
- Why you should not root for the Football Team: Dan Snyder does not seem like a particularly nice person. Also “Please welcome your Super Bowl champions, the Washington Football Team!” just doesn’t have that special ring to it.
- Why you should root for the Buccaneers: Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski.
- Why you should not root for the Buccaneers: If, for some reason, you are hold leaving New England against Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski then, please, feel free not to root for the Buccaneers.
- Why you should root for the Rams: The Rams’ only Super Bowl was won during their time in St. Louis, and that just does not feel right for a franchise as storied as the Rams.
- Why you should not root for the Rams: The Rams’ only Super Bowl being won during their time in St. Louis is actually pretty fun, when you think about it. Also, a championship probably means that a new wave of Sean McVay clones will soon get released into the NFL head coaching world.
- Why you should root for the Bears: The Bears winning the Super Bowl would not only bring a second trophy to one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, it would also push the blowout win over the Patriots back in 1986 out of the spotlight a bit when it comes to Chicago and the Super Bowl. Also, Mitchell Trubisky would then have the same number of rings as Patrick Mahomes.
- Why you should not root for the Bears: Nick Foles inexplicably turned into a Hall of Fame quarterback when he was leading the Philadelphia Eagles over the Patriots three years ago. Sure, he’s the backup now, but he would then get yet another ring.
Who will you be rooting for in the NFC?
This poll is closed