Sunday, January 10, 2016

NFL Playoffs - NFC

Well, I said yesterday that NFL playoff games are exciting and fun. This year's AFC wild card games were certainly exciting at times - opening kickoff TD return, last second game-winning field goal - and they were probably fun if you're a Chiefs or Steelers fan. Not so much on the other side, with one game being a blowout of the Texans, and the other an emotional meltdown that was lost in large part due to personal fouls on the Bengals.

Today, it's the NFC's turn. I'd be pretty surprised if a repeat of either the blowout or the loss-by-penalty was repeated, but you never know. Here's how I'm ranking the teams in my own personal cheering order:

6. Green Bay Packers - Division rivals of my Detroit Lions don't end up high on my list of favorites unless there's some really compelling reason, and all the Packers have going for them right now is that they play at Lambeau Field. Fun to watch football played out in the elements (from my nice warm couch), but that would end if they won the game anyway.

5. Minnesota Vikings - Pretty much repeat the above.

4. Washington Unapologetic Racial Slurs - Prior to this year, I'd have put the Washington team at the bottom simply because of their hard-headed owner refusing to consider changing the team's name, after public outcry over it being racially offensive. It doesn't bother me personally, but it's a problem for some people, and that's enough to at least consider making a change. Besides, how much money would the team make selling all the new gear? But anyway, this year the team put Michigan State grad Kirk Cousins at QB, and that's enough to move them up a bit for me. Besides the Michigan State connection, Cousins is also one of those guys that all the talking heads say shouldn't be a great quarterback, and that's enough to make me hope that he does well.

3. Carolina Panthers - There's a good chance that the Panthers will end up winning the whole thing this year, because they've been the best team in the NFL for most of the season. I don't have any particular dislike for them, and Cam Newton is one of the more dynamic players you'll see anywhere. I could do without all his dancing and posturing, but that's certainly not unique to Carolina.

2. Arizona Cardinals - Last year, Arizona looked really good until injuries bit them near the end of the season, and they weren't able to finish strong. This year, injuries are much less of a concern. I like head coach Bruce Arians' style, and they've got some great players who are always entertaining.

1. Seattle Seahawks - Part of the reason I put Seattle at the top is my ex-resident-of-the-Pacific-Northwest bias, and part of it is because of the crazy way they lost last year's Super Bowl. I'd love to see them get a third straight chance in the big game. It'll be more difficult this year, without home games and with Marshawn Lynch still recovering from surgery, but it's in the realm of possibility.

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