The NFL playoffs have started and my team is sitting at home watching it on TV just like me. What is a fan to do? For whom should I devote my emotional energy this January? I could let the odds makers decide for me and root for whichever teams I put money on each week. Unfortunately, I don't bet anymore because I find that no matter how much I know about a particular sport, I tend to lose far too often in sports betting. So in order to have any interest in the playoffs, I am forced to pick another team - one for which I have no natural affinity. Rooting for another team is like kissing your sister. It's unpleasant, but sometimes you gotta do it.
First, I can narrow it down by the teams not to root for.
1) Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. As a Cleveland fan, I could never, ever, ever, bring myself to root for these hated rivals. Not even a viable choice. I'd rather eat glass. Sharp glass.
2) New York Giants. It's everyone's responsibility to root against New York teams if you aren't from New York. And if the Giants somehow end up playing the Steelers or the Ravens, I might just implode with disgust. In fact, I'd up watching only the Super Bowl commercials, changing the channel during the game to the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl (it'd almost be like seeing the Browns in the Super Bowl).
3) Philadelphia Eagles. Sorry Philly fan, you got the Phillies. I can't allow you to have two championship teams at once. Otherwise you automatically become a town of assholes.
4) Miami Dolphins. Glad they went out quickly because I couldn't take the two weeks between the AFC championship and the Super Bowl listening to the media discuss how Bill Parcells is such a genius. Or look at him walk around in that unintentionally skin-tight track suit he wears.
5) San Diego Chargers. 8-8 record. There is something to be said for rooting for the underdog, but San Diego is not an underdog, despite its record. San Diego is an underachiever. It is an underachieving group of talented players who don't play to their ability because they are coached by a man, Norv Turner, who seemingly turns anything he touches as head coach from gold to rust. Yes, somehow they've done well in December and January. But I just can believe in a team coached by Norv.
6) Atlanta Falcons. I wouldn't be able to take it if rookie QB Matt Ryan wins a Super Bowl his first year, while we wasted Quinn away on the bench his rookie season.
That leaves me to choose between Tennessee, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Carolina, and Arizona. I can cross off Indianapolis and Minnesota since they are already out. I'm left choosing between three teams: Tennessee, Carolina, and Arizona.
A couple methods of choosing a team come to mind to help me select my playoff team from this Browns' season of disappointment.
1) The team with the beloved fantasy player whom you relied on week in and week out.
I can't stand to think about fantasy football anymore. Every year it seems that I am in a couple leagues and always manage to finish one place out of the money. I refuse to complain about it anymore because that would make me too much like pre-World Series Red Sox fan. I just mention it as my reason not to choose option number 1.
2) The team with the most players from your college, or at least one very important player from your college.
I can think of four players from my undergraduate institution currently listed on the roster for the Arizona Cardinals. I'll leave it to my readers to figure out which school that is.
Option number 2 it is. I am officially a Cardinals fan for the next month.