Is the first week of the NFL playoffs any better than the Bowl games? Is our dwindling attention span as a species conditioning us to sit around and wait for the Super Bowl? What I’m asking is, why should I be watching these games with any real interest? Please don’t say for the love of football. What is that anyway? Strip away gambling, fantasy football and what do you have left? Maybe some loyalty to a team? A favorite player? Well, twenty NFL cities have seasons that are officially over. A half-dozen more are just playing out the string. Trying to drum up interest in these towns has to be about as difficult as cultivating an audience for Michigan/Virgina Tech. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point. So, without further ado, here are the 12 remaining NFL teams listed in reverse order of ease of hate. As a true hater I know that rooting against a team can be very satisfying. So, pick your enemy and enjoy the NFL playoffs.
12. Houston Texans. Never been in the playoffs, no real history, no real rivals and no real QB. Zing. Most Texans hate probably centers around general distaste for Gary Kubiak and Andre Johnson’s 2011 fantasy season. The team lacks a villain, a stereotypical annoying fan–they’re really just an afterthought. I guess if you like easy targets you can hate on Jake Delhomme.
11. Detroit Lions. If you have a serious problem with Jim Schwartz (and I kind of do) then the Lions probably need to be higher on the list, but look at the big picture. They aren’t really a threat. They’ve been perennial doormats. The whole city of Detroit takes enough crap as it is. Plus, how can you hate Megatron? Guy’s awesome.
10. Cincinnati. The most annoying thing about Cincinnati is that it’s very hard to spell. Also, it’s practically in Kentucky. Most Bengals hate has to be focused on Andy Dalton. People really want this guy to fail. It’s not quite as bad as Tebow hate, but red hair doesn’t raise quite as much ire as overt Christianity. The real reason to dislike the Bengals is that they are a joke of a franchise, they backed into the playoffs and play some of the most boring games you’ll ever see. You want this team off your television.
9. Atlanta Falcons. If you want to waste your time hating on a team from a sorry sports city. Atlanta really shouldn’t be rewarded with winners. Unless we’re talking about the ‘Dawgs. Then, have at it. Why do I dislike the Falcons? General dislike of dome teams, for one. I also still would have rather seen the Vikings in that Super Bowl about 13 years ago–that still stings. This is another sorry franchise. If M.C. Hammer on the sidelines is still one of the most identifiable things in your history you’ve got big problems. Also, their owners face. Don’t like it.
8. San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco fans were like the cicadas this year. Back all of a sudden out of nowhere. Oh, yeah! The original bandwagon. Start telling your Tom Rathman stories. Remember Merton Hanks’s neck? That was CRAZY. Hating on the 49ers feels comfortable, like a familiar old movie. The problem is, this 49er team doesn’t really line-up with the teams of the past. There’s no flash. No franchise QB, no Hall of Famers on offense. It’s an incredibly boring team. Take all your Jets hate from 2010 and 2011 and heap it onto San Francisco. And, lets not forget that Candlestick park is complete toilet. Can that dump just fall into a hole in the earth please?
7. New Orleans Saints. New Orleans is another joke of a sports town. This whole sentimental yarn we got told after Katrina was a nice story, but dressing up New Orleans as a great football town was for TV purposes only. Let’s get real. And, can we move on from Archie Manning being Mr. Saint? Who cares. The guy was a QB on a very, very mediocre team. He’s got famous sons. We get it. Why do the Mannings have to be shoehorned into every possible story? Did you know the Broncos were Peyton’s favorite team on Tecmo Bowl? Let’s use that. I hate the Saints because they can’t be counted on take care of business. The Seahawks game last year was a prime example. Oh, another week of Pete Carroll and the 7-9 ‘Hawks? Thanks, New Orleans.
6. Green Bay Packers. Titletown. Choke on it. No one cares. Can I say Vince Lombardi is overrated? For some reason Green Bay gets a pass because they’re some Midwest hamlet that everyone thinks is pure and adorable. That makes no difference. They’ve had a stud QB for about 20 straight years now. If you live in Chicago, Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, etc you should hate Green Bay with a passion. Back-to-back franchise QBs. Screw that.
5. Denver Broncos. Denver fans would like to act put upon, but they’ve won two Super Bowls in the last 15 years. Sure, they were a post-season whipping boy before that and have mostly stunk since, but you win 1 Super Bowl you lose the right to bitch for a while, and you win two in a row–get to the back of the line. This is all about Tebow though, and the desire to stop hearing about him. It’s been proven that win or lose he’ll be a hot topic of discussion. Look at what he did! Look at what he didn’t do! The only way to get people to shut up about this guy is to send them home. The good news is, they’re probably the worst team to make the post-season in the last 20 years, so it should be a short stint.
4. New York Giants. Even if the Giants stumbled in at 9-7, they’re still from NY. Well, kind of. Giants fans are an annoying, odd bunch. I feel like most of them will spend this week downplaying their chances, but god forbid they win–they’ll be pushing aside Drew Brees to make room for Eli in the QB hierarchy. Of course Eli himself is the 2nd or 3rd easiest QB in the league to hate (Romo and Tebow) and the Giants’ have a never ending string of loudmouth defensive ends who make 3 big plays a game and still give up 30 points. Don’t forget coach Coughlin, the most miserable man to ever stroll the sidelines.
3. Baltimore Ravens. People really dislike Baltimore. It’s amazing. Is it because the aquarium is not as impressive as people hoped? Is it the smell? Baltimore the city feels a bit like Jersey the state. An easy target. Getting to the football team, everyone is tired of the reverence for the defense. Ray Lewis has expired as an interesting story line. Joe Flacco is terrible. The guy is scary bad. It’s amazing how little he’s done with this team. Comparing him to Trent Dilfer would be an insult. To Dilfer. I still hate the Ravens because they remind me of Brian Billick. This guy was supposed to be an offensive genius. He wins a Super Bowl with one of the worst offenses you’ll ever see and he’s still trading off that. Also, Baltimore leads the world in car window flags. I hate those things.
2. New England Patriots. The great backlash. The sports writing community is really to blame for this one. Peter King, Reilly, all this fawning over the “Patriot Way.” It annoys people. Twenty years ago you could have nuked the entire eastern seaboard and not injured a Patriots fan and now everyone that ever went on a tour of B.C. is suddenly a die-hard. The sports world outside of Boston is tired of watching Boston win things. Stanley Cups, NBA Titles, Super Bowls…enough is enough. Boston may have, for the time being, replaced New York as the most despised sports city in the country.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers. Have you ever run across a Steelers fan? They are insufferable. And, they’re everywhere. I was driving on Christmas Eve, nowhere near Pittsburgh and I saw a guy at a gas station wearing a suit and tie with a Steelers Santa hat on. That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?