In my post last year, I detailed three criteria for helping to rank teams when trying to choose a non-Steelers team to root for. With only 8 teams remaining in the field, here is your definitive guide for who Steelers fans should or should not root for to ultimately hoist the Lombardi.
Baltimore, Cincinnati and New England go to the bottom of the list. Always. I didn't include Cleveland or Oakland in this list because the thought of them making the playoffs would cause this post to lose all legitimacy.
2. Super Bowl Rings
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 8 remaining playoff teams this year, Dallas leads the pack with 5 rings, followed by Green Bay and with 4, New England with 3, Denver, Baltimore and Indianapolis with 2, and Seattle with 1.
3. General Jagoffery
Does the team have a player that it's really easy to hate (i.e. Tom Brady)? Does the team have someone it's really easy to cheer for (i.e. Adrian Peterson)? Is their coach a Harbaugh?
Recommended Blogs/Twitter: I Hate JJ Redick, Purple Reign Show, @iHateJJRedick @BMoreBirdsNest @lindsayyok
What To Like: Elite jokes
What Not To Like: They're Baltimore, so pretty much everything. Not just about the Ravens organization that endorsed Ray Rice but the entire city of Baltimore. Everything sucks.
The Verdict: Never under any circumstances should you root for the Ravens. Period.
What To Like: DeMarco Murray, I guess. Sean Lee was the only good thing about the Cowboys and he's out for the year. Tony Romo playoff meltdowns, too.
What Not To Like: Dallas getting a gift to make it through the first round. The Cowboys are tied with the Steelers for most Super Bowl appearances (8) and have 5 rings. A Super Bowl victory would put them into a tie with the Steelers.
The Verdict: Our rivalry with the Cowboys may have grown thinner over time since we only play them once every four years, but we can never forget the Super Bowls of the 70s or Larry Brown in 1995. Much like the 49ers of 2013, the only acceptable time to root for them is if they are playing the Ravens.
6. New England
Recommended Blogs/Twitter: FoxboroBlog
What To Like: The Patriots and Ravens both getting the mumps.
What Not To Like: Having to root for the Patriots to beat the Ravens. Ugh. What makes matters worse is this is the 4th time in the last 6 years we've had to watch these two play in the playoffs.
The Verdict: Rooting for the Patriots violates all 3 of the Steelers Fan Criteria. A Super Bowl victory would give Brady/Belichick 4 rings which would tie them with Bradshaw/Noll.
What To Like: Peyton Manning is the smartest player in football. Never forget that he bought 30 pizza stores in Denver right before Colorado legalized pot. The Denver Broncos have lost more Super Bowls (5) than any other organization.
What Not To Like: Emmanuel Sanders playing like a legitimate #2 receiver. I don't think he's dropped a pass all year. Where were these clutch catches when he was with the Steelers?
The Verdict: Unfortunately, Denver is the second best option in the AFC and you'll have to root for the winner of Denver-Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game.
4. Green Bay
Recommended Blogs/Twitter: @PackersTherapy
What To Like: Aaron Rodgers. Jordy Nelson down the right sideline. John Kuhn in short yardage.
What Not To Like: Green Bay beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XL and have 4 Super Bowl rings. A 5th would put them within striking distance of the Steelers.
The Verdict: Green Bay is a middle-of-the-road choice depending on how torn up you are about Super Bowl XL. That was four years ago, so if you've moved past the fact that Ben threw 2 interceptions and Rashard Mendenhall couldn't hold onto the ball in a key situation, then it's okay to root for Green Bay.
What To Like: Andrew Luck memes, they are hilarious. Andrew Luck in general is pretty good, even if his receivers let him down a lot and he has no running game. TY Hilton is like Drew Brees - great indoors, not so great outside.
What Not To Like: TY Hilton outdoors. The Colts running game. The Colts pass rush, which had only 29 sacks this season.
The Verdict: Of the 4 AFC teams remaining, the Colts are clearly the preferable choice. The Colts blogosphere has some really good writers, definitely worth checking out.
What To Like: Carolina's front 7 is incredibly fun to watch. Luke Kuechly is one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Head Coach Ron Rivera's house caught fire this week and thankfully everyone is safe.
What Not To Like: The Panthers 7-8-1 regular season record. They got by in the Wild Card Round thanks to facing an offensively inept Arizona team, but it's hard to see them getting past Seattle this weekend.
The Verdict: Mostly because of their 0 Super Bowl rings, Carolina appears very high on this list. Also, this 3 Act Play on the History of Teal Uniforms is worth your time.
What To Like: The way the Seahawks play defense. The way the Seahawks run the ball. Seahawks twitter (you should follow everyone I listed, just for the fun of it). Marshawn Lynch postgame interviews.
What Not To Like: Seattle's wide receivers. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Who are these people?" The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl Champs so that might make them a bit insufferable.
The Verdict: They might be the defending champs but there's not a whole lot to dislike about the Seahawks. They run the ball, they play defense. Sure Richard Sherman is outspoken and Marshawn Lynch doesn't speak, but this is a team that Steelers fans can comfortably get behind to hoist their second straight Lombardi.