Even though the Bengals aren’t in the playoffs this year, I’ll still be watching as 12 teams battle it out for the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Why? Because I love football and the offseason is really long. You forget during the NFL season how much you miss football during the offseason. Seriously, the offseason is REALLY long.
So, if I’m going to watch, I’ll need a rooting interest, right? Here are the 12 playoff teams in order of their seeding:
- New England Patriots
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans
- Oakland Raiders
- Miami Dolphins
Right off the bat, I’m going to cross off the Steelers. I’ll be rooting for them to crash and burn and for Vance Joseph’s defense in Miami to eat the Pittsburgh offense alive. Please, please, please? I’ll keep hoping for that until Sunday at 1:05 p.m. when the game kicks off. And then will be rooting hard for Miami... this week.
I’m also going to cross off the Patriots and Seahawks because they’ve had their fair share of winning in recent years and I’m not interested in seeing them continue to win.
I’m also not into “America’s team” and the cockiness displayed in Dallas. So, goodbye Cowboys.
The Texans have ruined two Bengals’ playoff opportunities in the last six years and beat Cincinnati this year in one of the worst football games I watched all season. They’re off the list, for sure.
Now, here’s who I’m left with:
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Oakland Raiders
- Miami Dolphins
- Atlanta Falcons
- Green Bay Packers
- New York Giants
- Detroit Lions
I’m definitely going to be rooting for the Dolphins in the Wild Card round, but, this isn’t their year and I don’t want to be disappointed by a team that doesn’t have a real chance. Goodbye, Dolphins. The Dolphins are down quarterback Ryan Tannehill, so like the Bengals last year, they’re playing the Steelers with a backup quarterback, and it’s unclear if Tannehill will be back should the Dolphins win in the Wild Card round.
Similarly, with Derek Carr, I without a doubt, would be rooting for the Raiders to win the Super Bowl. But, without Carr, the Raiders looked hopeless last week and lost to the Broncos, 24-6. In addition to being without Carr (due to a fibula injury), backup quarterback Matt McGloin injured his shoulder and won’t be playing in the Wild Card round. So, rookie Connor Cook will get his first NFL start in the playoffs, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start his first game in the postseason. I will root for the Raiders to win, but, I don’t think they have a real chance without Carr. If the Raiders magically make it to the Super Bowl without Carr, it’s estimated he will able to return right around Super Bowl week. I’ll also be rooting for the Raiders because I love Reggie Nelson and he deserves a playoff win (he has one playoff win in his NFL career, in his rookie year of 2007 with the Jaguars; it came against the Steelers and he had three tackles in the game).
So now we’re down to one AFC team and I think it’s a team with a decent shot to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs don’t have any real beef with the Bengals, they had a great season, they’re led by a quarterback who many consider average in Alex Smith, and overall, despite having a domestic abuser (rookie Tyreek Hill) on their roster, they’re a pretty likeable team. The Chiefs went 12-4 this season and they were fun to watch. I mean, 346 pound nose tackle Dontari Poe threw a touchdown pass. What?!
So, the Chiefs are now my playoff team to root for in the AFC.
I’m going to rule out former Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones’ Lions team because the last three weeks they haven’t been great and I don’t see them making it far. But, good luck to Jones!
The Falcons have been great this season. They’re scoring at a ridiculous rate and Matt Ryan has had a great season. Mohamed Sanu is finding success in Atlanta and he continues his NFL career having never missed the playoffs (like Jones). In fact, Sanu even gets a first round bye this year for the first time. I wish Sanu well and hey, this very well could be the team that it makes the most sense for Bengals fans to root for. Julio Jones is awesome and a very likeable guy, the Falcons score a lot of points, and their games are usually highly entertaining. But, they’re not going to be my team. So will the Falcons be your team?
I’m a big Aaron Rodgers fan, but, I’m a New Yorker and was raised as a Giants fan. While I wouldn’t mind the Packers winning in the playoffs, they play the Giants this weekend in the Wild Card round. The large majority of my family, including my brother and dad are Giants fans, so I’ll be re-joining forces with my family to root for the Giants to win the Super Bowl this season. Eli Manning has been pretty pedestrian all season, with the defense in New York carrying the team. Can the Giants’ defense step up enough to beat the Packers’ high-flying offense? I think they can, and will. The Giants’ defense has been the reason to watch New York this year. They spent heavily in free agency, and it actually worked for them. But can it work enough to be the team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? The Giants beat the Cowboys twice this year, which I appreciated, and if they can do that, maybe they can beat anyone else they face.
So there you have it, the Giants are the team I’ll be rooting for to win Super Bowl 51.
Who are you going to be rooting for to win the Super Bowl? I know it won’t be the Steelers.