The 2013 NFL Playoffs are here, and let's be honest, none of us are spending them the way we want. We all want to see the Steelers playing in the playoffs. To go back to a confrontation I had with an Eagles fan early this season at Heinz Field, he told me he would rather not make the playoffs than lose the way Pittsburgh did in Denver. That is absolute nonsense. You always want to be in the playoffs, even if it is as a Wild Card, you want to be there, you want to have a chance to win a championship.
But now, we have to sit at home on our couches pouring over NFL Draft scouting reports while twelve other teams fight it out for the Lombardi Trophy. Some Steelers fans may decide to spend their weekends doing other things, but for those of you that sit down and watch, here's a viewing guide to the playoffs. Obviously, choosing between teams that are not the Steelers is always a "lesser of two evils" situation, so hopefully this is helpful.
The most important thing to remember when deciding on a team to root for is rivalries. Obviously, this put Baltimore, Cincinnati and New England at the bottom of the heap. This shouldn't be much of an issue as most Steelers fans inherently root against these teams anyway.
After eliminating the rival teams, the next category to consider is Super Bowl Championships. As Steelers fans, we love holding the "Sixburgh" or "First to Six" or "How Many Yinz Got?" over fans of all 31 other teams. Therefore, we don't want to see anyone else get to 6 or even get within striking distance of 6 Rings. Looking at the 12 playoff teams this year, San Francisco leads the pack with 5 rings, followed by Green Bay with 4, New England and Washington with 3, Denver and the Colts with 2 and the Ravens with 1.
The final category to consider, if you're still torn, is general jagoffery. Does the team have a player that it's really easy to hate (ie Peyton Manning)? Does the team have someone it's really easy to cheer for (ie Adrian Peterson)? Is their coach a Harbaugh?
Using these metrics, here is a look at the Wild Card Weekend games.
Cincinnati at Houston
The Bengals are a rival team from the AFC North, so that automatically knocks them down a peg. Neither team has any Super Bowl wins. The Bengals however, are the Bengals, and JJ Watt is a great player to watch who should win Defensive Player of the Year. Steelers fans should root for Houston.
Minnesota at Green Bay
None of the NFC teams can be considered "rivals", so this matchup is a little more of a toss-up. Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson are both exciting players to watch and Clay Matthews and Jared Allen are two of the best in the business at rushing the passer. On the whole, Super Bowl titles carries a lot of weight here, with the Packers closing in on the Steelers mark. Steelers fans should root for Minnesota, though I won't blame you if you root for Green Bay, they're a classy organization.
Indianapolis at Baltimore
This should be the most obvious of the bunch. In an awesome storyline, the Colts that once fled Baltimore under cover of darkness to move to Indy now have to return to Baltimore while coached by the Ravens former defensive coordinator. Go Colts.
Seattle at Washington
This is probably the most exciting playoff matchup with two rookie quarterbacks squaring off in the last game of the weekend. RGIII and Russell Wilson have both been fantastic this season. Given the Redskins recent struggles, many forget about their 3 Super Bowl rings. The Redskins also have the most jagoff-filled front office in the league with Daniel Snyder paying out huge salaries to free agents trying to turn them into the Yankees of the NFL. Pete Carroll is a jagoff too, but you have to love the way the Seahawks play defense. This is a close one, but I'm giving the edge to the Seahawks for rooting purposes.