Yeah, the Cleveland Browns had another horrible year, but the NFL Playoffs have arrived. Unlike the idiotic and money-grubbing college system, the championship of professional football is decided on the field.
Here's hoping it isn't the Pittsburgh Steelers (again).
So, if you are burned out on pro football after watching 16 Browns games … suck it up. This is the NFL freakin' Playoffs and it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Twelve teams remain. One will be the champion. And God willing that champion will not be wearing black and gold.
I offer a handy viewing and rooting guide for all Browns fans for the upcoming NFL Playoffs.
No. 1: New England Patriots
No. 2: Baltimore Ravens
No. 3: Houston Texans
No. 4: Denver Broncos
No. 5: Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6: Cincinnati Bengals
No. 1: Green Bay Packers
No. 2: San Francisco 49ers
No. 3: New Orleans Saints
No. 4: New York Giants
No. 5: Atlanta Falcons
No. 6: Detroit Lions
Of the 12 teams that remain, there has got to be a team Browns fans can get behind. Well, let's go through these teams and figure out which team to root for over the next few weeks by ruling out teams we cannot and should not root for.
Dire QB Situation = No Chance
The Texans enter the playoffs with T.J. Yates under center. Sure, he won a few games during the regular season and he may have just enough to get past the Bengals, but can this guy really take Houston to the promise land? Uh, no. He was a third-string quarterback to start the season for a reason. Thanks for playing Houston, now return home to the offseason, which, I hope, is filled with eating delicious Kolaches everyday. If you have ever been to Houston, I suggest making a stop in the morning at an area Kolache Factory to sample these heavenly creations. This is not a paid endorsement. It's just a combination of meat and cheese inside a roll, which are AMAZING. My mouth is watering.
Need to Lose for Selfish Reasons
So the Falcons went ahead and screw things up for the Browns. Cleveland holds Atlanta's first-round pick this April. Early on this season, it seemed a possibility the Browns would have two top-18 picks after Atlanta started 2-3. Alas, the Falcons did not waste that talent and won eight of their final 11 games to make the playoffs.
Still, the sooner Atlanta loses the higher the Browns' pick will be. So, we can extend what was an enjoyable regular season exercise and continue to root for whoever is playing Atlanta.
Wait, Weren't They Just 0-16?
In 2008 the Lions finished 0-16. Now they are in the playoffs and posses one of the most exciting offenses in the league. Meanwhile during that span, the Browns hovered around four to five wins a season. This year, the Browns' offense averaged less than two touchdowns a game. The Lions are a nice story, but because I'm bitter, I hope the Lions lose.
We'll Never Forget What You Did No. 7
John Elway is once again a big part of this franchise. Although he won't be leading the team to 98-yard touchdown drives this month, he is the executive vice president of football operations in Denver. In other words, he is making decisions for this team in a front office role. Since he is still associated with the Broncos, I will continue to root against you, Mr. Elway, for as long as I live. Once again, thanks to you and the prevent defense for ruining my childhood. Jerk.
Don't You Have Enough Titles?
New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers
These teams have won too many damn Super Bowls. I loathe you.
AFC North is Tough Enough
Of course. It is the Browns' division where THREE teams make the playoffs. You know how hard it is to get both wild card teams from the same division? Well, it is and it happened in the same division that the Browns play in. Not coincidently, the Browns were 0-6 against these teams this season. Since 1999, a win inside this division has been a rare occurrence for the Browns.
And, really, would I expect you to root for those three teams to EVER win a game, let alone win a game in the playoffs?
And We're Left With
New Orleans Saints
Yes, the Saints just won the Super Bowl a few years ago, but if there was any team and a group of fans to get behind that are similar to the Browns fans, it's the Saints.
For years that fan base endured crappy football, but supported its team. Before Hurricane Katrina, they were in danger of losing their team. Since, it has been nothing but touchdown passes and victories for the Saints.
If you have ever been down to New Orleans and met the residents, you'll understand that it is a resilient group of people who are proud of their city. Most of all they love their football team. The first time I visited New Orleans, I instantly saw the connection between New Orleans and Cleveland residents.
I haven't found it difficult to support this team. It was great to see this town celebrate with its winning football team and I can only imagine – one day – it will be similar, if not more intense, in Cleveland.
Get behind the Saints. And why not? It is good Karma. After so many seasons of losing football in Cleveland, I'm willing to try anything.