Since Green Bay utterly collapsed against a Lions team with nothing to play for except spite this past Sunday, Packers fans are left with a somewhat rare dilemma as the first round of the NFL playoffs approach. Who do we cheer for now? We’re sure some of you had no problem quickly adopting the franchise you’ll be passively piling your fandom into these next few weeks. Maybe you have a chosen AFC team that’s still in contention. Perhaps your best friend or significant other loves a squad that’s still alive and kicking.
However, we suspect many of you are left without a clear rooting interest in this year’s NFL playoffs. You might know who you don’t want to win the Super Bowl, but that’s as far as it goes. Well, if you’d like some input on who to pull for in this all-too-rare Packerless postseason, your pals at Milwaukee Record have ranked the 14 NFL playoff participants in order of least likable to most likable and provided some reasons for our rankings. We hope this helps!
14. Minnesota Vikings
After a regular season that found Vikings fans gloating as they won a bunch of close games en route to a 13-4 record (despite being outscored by opponents 424-427), wouldn’t it be hilarious if Minnesota’s season ended as soon as this weekend? We’ll answer that for you. Yes, it would be hilarious if that happened. Then again, it would also be funny if they lost in heartbreaking fashion later in the playoffs. One of these scenarios will happen.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Whether it’s residual hatred from the franchise’s dominance over Green Bay in the ’90s, the fact that Mike McCarthy finally managed a good season that took him off the hot seat, or the fact they’re incorrectly called “America’s Team” all the time, we sincerely hope Dallas is quickly ousted from contention.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Maybe a crushing first round loss would finally lead Tom Brady to retire (and stay retired this time). The best part about the Monday night playoff game is that either Tampa Bay will lose or Dallas will. Unfortunately, that means one of them also has to win.
11. Seattle Seahawks
We’re happy for Geno Smith, but following the Fail Mary and the events of January 18, 2015, we simply can’t root for the Seahawks in any way, shape, or form.
10. San Francisco 49ers
Typically, the 49ers would have a far worse standing on a list like this, but the fact they were able to overcome tons of injuries to star players and nab the No. 2 seed in the NFC on the strength of their defense and the surprisingly solid play of a third-string rookie quarterback makes this year’s Niners team a little easier to root for. Well, not “easier to root for,” so much as “easier not to actively root against.”
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts is a dynamic and altogether incredible player. A.J. Brown had an awesome season. Admittedly, we don’t know much else about the Eagles. Sorry! Still, the fans once threw batteries at a guy dressed as Santa so that, combined with everyone in the AFC being more likable, lands Philly at number nine.
8. Miami Dolphins
As long as Tyreek Hill is a Dolphin, we won’t be rooting for Miami. Barring a miracle, him and the Skylar Thompson-led ‘Fins will be beginning their offseason by Sunday evening.
7. New York Giants
It’s been a while since the Giants were in the playoffs, eh? That and the fact they’re playing the Vikings this weekend makes New York the default NFC team to pull for in a fairly detestable field of the Conference’s postseason participants.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Excluding last week’s loss against the Broncos, the Chargers finished the regular season on a high note. They’ll travel to Jacksonville to host a Jaguars team that actually has a worse record than they do. Justin Herbert is what Jordan Love might be if the Packers cut ties with Rodgers and gave him a shot. Only one way to find out! Anyway…we originally had the Chargers ranked higher on this list, but do we really need another L.A. transplant team winning the Super Bowl? (No, we do not need that.)
5. Kansas City Chiefs
We’re not fans of the racist chants and the team name whatsoever. If those things were done away with, Patrick Mahomes (one of the best quarterbacks and most likable players in the NFL right now) and Travis Kelce (maybe the best tight end of all time) would push Kansas City damn near the top of this list. Also worth mentioning: former Packers speedster Marquez Valdes-Scantling is on the team and Andy Reid is actually pretty funny in this commercial.
4. Baltimore Ravens
Who is even playing quarterback for the Ravens this weekend? In spite of Lamar Jackson’s nagging injuries and a rotating cast of subpar running backs, Baltimore somehow dragged itself into the playoffs. Seeding, personnel, and the odds aren’t on their side, but anything is possible in the playoffs. And an unexpected Super Bowl run by a Ravens team most have written off could be pretty fun to watch.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Former Packers backup quarterback Doug Pederson (and a bunch of pricey and impressive offseason acquisitions) have quickly transformed the Jags from perennial league laughingstock into a playoff team. They’re from a small market city people make fun of, they have a weird color scheme, and nobody expects them to go on a tear…which is why it would be amazing if they continued to prove people wrong by winning it all. Also, we weren’t the ones who first noticed this, but…
Realized that Carmela and Furio could’ve been Trevor Lawrence’s parents and now I can unsee it pic.twitter.com/X2xgbhkeL6
— Dad Bod Tee (@DadBodTee) July 13, 2022
2. Cincinnati Bengals
Who doesn’t love the long-overdue emergence of the Bengals as a certifiably good football team? We can’t tell you, because we’re liking the hell out of Cincy’s semi-recent rise to prominence. They’re based in the Midwest, they have a long history of losing, Joe Burrow seems nice, the helmets are cool, and the team’s response to the scary Damar Hamlin injury (and the playoff seeding dilemma that followed as a result) was commendable. While not our absolute top choice, we wouldn’t hate another Bengals Super Bowl appearance this season. Plus, the name of their backup running back Samaje Perine (Sah-ma-jay Pee-rhine) is very fun to say. Try it!
1. Buffalo Bills
It was always going to be the Bills at the top spot on this list. They’re pretty much the Packers of the AFC, after all. Buffalo is the second smallest NFL city (Green Bay is the smallest). They, like Green Bay pre-Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, endured a lengthy period of losing. Their fans are rowdy, drunk, and built for cold weather games. Plus, Milwaukee is home to a MASSIVE contingent of displaced Bills Backers. They’ve still never won a Super Bowl, by the way. They’re due! As if all of that’s not enough of a reason to pull for the Bills, Hamlin’s near-death experience on the field two weeks ago and his inspiring, unifying path to recovery only further cements the Buffalo Bills as the team to root for in this year’s NFL playoffs. Go Bills (at least until the Packers are back in the playoffs)!