I know the Steelers season came to a very unfortunate end in Denver, and I know there are many Steelers fans who want nothing to do with football right now, and others who never want anything to do with football outside of watching the Steelers, but I happen to be a football junkie. I watch as much football as humanly possible without letting it interfere with my daily activities (mostly). Heck, I'd probably watch a pee wee football game if they put it on television, and knowing me, I'd swear at my tv if I thought one of the little 8 year olds missed a blocking assignment.
So, while a lot of Steelers fans will be moving on after the loss, I still plan on watching the remainder of the playoffs just to see which team winds up being crowned Super Bowl Champion in Indianapolis on February 5th.
Below, I will give my thoughts on the eight remaining teams left in the NFL playoffs, and I will break them down into three categories: Teams that I couldn't stand to see win it all, teams I'd like to see win it all, and teams that I don't care about one way or another.
Teams that I Couldn't Stand to See Win it All
Yes, I'm starting with this category because it's more fun. I mean, let's face it, the Steelers just bit the big one in the first round of the playoffs, and a little schadenfreude is probably good for the soul.
Green Bay Packers
I almost put the Packers in my "in-different" category. I mean, I don't have any real problem with the Packers or their fans, but they did beat the Steelers in the last Super Bowl, and a fifth Lombardi would be treading too close to the Steelers six titles. And when you add the other nine NFL Championships that they won before the Super Bowl came about, well, that could give them a little too much to boast about for my tastes.
I want the Broncos out of the playoffs and I have many reasons, of course. First, there's Tim Tebow. This doesn't need much explaining. I understand that the Tebow phenomenon isn't really his fault--it's mainly a creation of the media--and when you get right down to it, Tebow is basically a good dude who never really asked for all the hype. But I know the deeper the Broncos go into the playoffs, the more we're going to have to experience Tebowmania. Speaking of the media, even though the Steelers were behind for a good portion of the game on Sunday, I still found the time to chuckle a little everytime CBS showed Tebow's reaction to anything that happened during the game, even when he wasn't involved in the action. It's because of this that I fear the Broncos making it to the Super Bowl. You just know that the networks will want to get so in-depth with Tebow in the two weeks leading up to the game that we'll probably know about his reaction to an enchilada that didn't agree with him. Another reason I want to see the Broncos lose in the playoffs is a simple one--they knocked the Steelers out. I don't care if Joe Schmo is their starting quarterback, I can't root for a team that is responsible for eliminating the Steelers from the postseason. I know a lot of fans like to root for the team that knocked their team out because if that team wins the championship, it's like "hey, we lost to the team that won the title, yay!" I'm sorry, but I don't get that. It does nothing for me. Anyway, a final reason I want to see the Broncos lose is because my brother-in-law, a huge Broncos fan even though he's from Pittsburgh, is going to be insufferable at the family gatherings this year. I just know he's going to gloat about the Steelers getting "Tebowed" out of the playoffs, so the sooner Denver is eliminated, the better. I'm going to be rooting for the Patriots this Saturday. Yes, I know, but I have my reasons which I will explain later.
San Francisco 49ers
The Steelers legacy is kind of at stake with the 49ers as the number 2 seed in the NFC. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls in their history, and another one would obviously tie them with Pittsburgh. However, even though this is a pretty good reason to want the '9ers booted from the postseason, I'm comfortable enough in the Steelers legacy that even if San Francisco ties their Lombardi record, it wouldn't bother me too much. After all, the Steelers spent a decade or so behind the 49ers and Cowboys in the Lombardi department before they won their two most recent Super Bowls. So, if I don't care about the Super Bowl wins, what reason could I have to hate a team from the NFC so much that I would put them so low (or is it high) on my list of teams that I do not want to see win it all? It's simple, Jim Harbaugh. He's 1/2 of the Harbaugh brothers tandem that teamed-up to wreck Pittsburgh's season. Besides that, once his team is out of the playoffs, we'll be safe from the possibility of having a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh Super Bowl. The ratings in Pittsburgh would be N/A because they'd be so low, NBC would just assume it was a computer glitch. It's a good thing Alex Smith is their quarterback, and we don't really have to worry about such a tragedy.
New England Patriots
As a Steelers fan, heck, as an American, I think it's pretty safe to say that I want nothing more than to see the New England Patriots fall short of a Super Bowl title. For one thing, the fans in the general New England area just annoy me. It seems like there's almost always a team from Boston that makes the finals of some sport. Even their marathon is like the champion of marathons. The fans up there are so spoiled and entitled, they make Steelers fans seem almost content and satisfied. Yet, they're always complaining and moaning about something. Of course, the good side of a region full of entitled fans is that when their team does lose a big game, well, their reactions are priceless. Speaking of big games, I do want to see the Patriots go to the Super Bowl and lose. I know, for a lot of teams, a Super Bowl appearance all by itself seems like an accomplishment, but we all know that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are both so competitive and egotistical that a Super Bowl loss would hurt ten times more than bowing out in the first round of the playoffs. Besides that, New England making it to the Super Bowl would keep out the team that I couldn't stand to see win the most........
There are a lot of Steelers fans out there who say that if the Steelers can't win it all, they'd like to see Baltimore take it. I don't get that at all. The Ravens are the Steelers biggest rivals. Do Ohio State fans cheer for Michigan? Do Celtics fans cheer for the Lakers? Do Penguins fans cheer for the Flyers? No. No. And hecks no! Some Steelers fans who have their hearts in the right place say they'd like to see Baltimore make it to the Super Bowl and get pasted by the NFC representative. That's not good enough for me. I mean, I know we Steelers fans have a hard time dealing with it, but a loss in the Super Bowl is still a pretty good year when you think about it, and I don't want to see the Ravens even make it that far. Besides, that would save us from having to watch Ray Lewis give his motivational speech to his teammates on the game's biggest stage. You know how it goes: "It's our time tonight! yada, yada, yada." It's your time every week, Ray. If it's always your team's time, why don't you guys always win? Riddle me that. Also, a mere trip to the Super Bowl could validate Joe Flacco's borderline elite status, and I don't think any Steelers fan wants to endure that. Nope, I want the Ravens to lose in any round before the Super Bowl, that would be OK with me. However, if they have to lose in the Super Bowl, I'll accept that, especially if it hurts John Harbaugh emotionally.
Teams that I Don't Care About One Way or Another
I figured I'd stick this category in the middle just to sort of cleanse your palate after all of those unappetizing teams from above.
I don't hate the Texans, I don't love them, either. To quote Dr. Cox's wife on the show, Scrubs, I nothing them, even if they did sort of embarrass the Steelers in week 4. I don't care if the Texans win it all or lose this coming Sunday. I wouldn't mind seeing them take out the Ravens, but I don't see it happening.
That brings me to my final category:
Teams That I'd Like to See Win it All
New York Giants
For starters, the Giants knocked out the Cowboys in a "winner takes the NFC East, loser goes home" regular season finale New Year's Day. I can certainly appreciate that. Also, I like Eli Manning. I mean, the guy threw for 4900 yards this season, and people barely mentioned it. He's like the Big Ben of the NFC in-terms of getting credit. He's spent his entire career in his brother's shadow, even though they have the same amount of Super Bowls. Peyton Manning could retire tomorrow, and a lot of people could make an argument that he's maybe the greatest quarterback of all-time. But Eli may never get that kind of praise as it stands right now. But, with another title or two, he'd at least start to get taken more seriously as an elite quarterback in the NFL. Speaking of knocking out teams that Steelers fans, heck, Americans, cannot stand, the Giants were the team that upset the unbeaten New England Patriots right smack-dab in the middle of their Spygate controversery in '08. I wouldn't mind seeing them knock out the Patriots one more time.
And last but not least, the team I'd like to see win it all more than any other team remaining:
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have been through a lot in their history. Like the Steelers, they had to suffer through decades of failure before they started to experience winning seasons. And I like their fan base. They, too, have been through a lot in recent years, and they largely remained loyal to their team even in the midst of the Saints many years of failure. Yes, they came to the games with paper bags over their heads, but at least they still cared enough to show up. And Saints fans can certainly relate to what the Steelers fans are going through right now--losing in the playoffs to a weak division champion a year after making it to the Super Bowl. Also, I like Drew Brees. He was sort of given the shaft in San Diego when the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers, and since I can't stand Rivers, it was nice to see Brees land on his feet in New Orleans and help bring them their first championship two seasons ago. And finally, the Super Bowl is in New Olreans next year, and everyone knows that the team that plays in the host city always has a bad year, just ask the 2011 Colts. It's now or never (or at least not next year) for the Saints.
So, there you have it. Go Saints! OK, I'm still depressed about the Steelers. Go Saints? Why not.
What teams will you be rooting for (or against) during the reminder of the playoffs?