The Steelers stumbling to the finish of the 2018 regular season and missing out on the playoffs was unfortunate. Around here we’re still working on picking up the pieces of shattered expectations to formulate our final thoughts on the season. Stay tuned for tons of additional content coming over the next few weeks, both looking back on the 2018 season and looking ahead to the 2019 Draft. But for now, there are still 12 teams playing football and one of them will ultimately hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Obviously, being fans of the game of football, most of us will continue to watch the NFL playoffs, even though the Steelers won’t be playing. We’ve identified three main criteria for helping to rank teams when trying to choose a non-Steelers team to root for. Here is your definitive guide for who Steelers fans should or should not root for to win the Super Bowl.
Baltimore, Cincinnati and New England go to the bottom of the list. Always. Dallas also gets included in this list.
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 playoff teams this year, New England and Dallas both have 5 Rings, followed by the Colts and Ravens with 2. The Rams, Seahawks, Eagles, Bears, Chiefs and Saints all have won 1 Super Bowl. The Chargers and Texans have never won a Lombardi Trophy.
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. Aaron Donald)? Is their coach a Harbaugh?
Now that we’ve established the criteria for ranking teams, here is our rooting guide for the 2018 playoffs.
What to Like: Justin Tucker missing extra points (even if it only happened once, it was still hilarious).
What Not To Like: Pretty much everything about them, they’re the Baltimore Ravens.
The Verdict: Never, under any circumstances, should you root for the Ravens. Period.
11. New England
What to Like: Age catching up with Tom Brady.
What Not To Like: The Patriots have been the most successful team in the AFC over the past two decades. They are one Super Bowl behind the Steelers in total and Brady-Belichick has surpassed Bradshaw-Noll with 5 Super Bowl Rings.
The Verdict: Rooting for the Patriots violates every single Steelers Fan Criteria. Don’t do it.
What to Like: The Cowboys playing the Seahawks means we’ll get lots of replays of the Tony Romo fumbled snap. Jason Garrette is the longest-tenured coach in the league who has never won a Super Bowl.
What Not To Like: The Cowboys, our old rivals, also have 5 Super Bowl Rings. Never forget how terrible Jerry Jones is.
The Verdict: You should root for Dallas to get obliterated by Seattle.
What to Like: Russell Wilson is fun to watch, but their offensive line is atrocious. Pretty much all of the Legion of Boom is gone, but the defense is still good. Bobby Wagner is a great inside linebacker.
What Not To Like: They still haven’t gotten over Super Bowl XL. The Seahawks didn’t run the ball on first and goal against New England, which gave the Patriots another Super Bowl title. Pete Carroll has already reached the Super Bowl twice.
The Verdict: Root for them if you must, but anyone who wears lime green jerseys is more suited for the Pac-12 than the NFL.
What to Like: The Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. That was cool.
What Not To Like: After making the Super Bowl last year, Doug Pederson could draw even with Mike Tomlin in Super Bowl Appearances (with 2).
The Verdict: These are Philadelphia fans. They’re the same people who are Flyers fans and still chant “Crosby Sucks.” You should not align yourself with them.
7. LA Chargers
What to Like: They have a pair of dynamic pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. First round pick Derwin James is a stud in the secondary.
What Not To Like: Phillip Rivers is a petulant jagoff. Rivers winning a Super Bowl would make him the 3rd QB from the 2004 Class to do so. Also, they’ve been able to get away with multiple false start penalties this season that have helped them score touchdowns.
The Verdict: The fact that the Chargers play the Ravens in the first round gets them near the middle of the rankings.
6. New Orleans
What to Like: Drew Brees had a great season and they have a dynamic young running back in Alvin Kamara. The Saints have made investments on defense and turned one of the worst units in the league into one of the best.
What Not To Like: Steelers fans had a bad taste in their mouth after the Saints got some help from the men in stripes (including a horrendous pass interference call) that ultimately doomed the Steelers season. Sean Payton and Drew Brees have only been to one Super Bowl, but could tie Mike Tomlin by reaching another.
The Verdict: A Saints Super Bowl victory would not be the worst thing in the world, and they had the best record in the league this year.
What to Like: Andrew Luck is likely the Comeback Player of the Year. Frank Reich was an afterthought head coaching hire after Josh McDaniels backtracked on accepting the job.
What Not To Like: They figured out how to get Mike Mitchell to play like an actual NFL player instead of running around like a chicken with his head cut off.
The Verdict: The Colts started 1-5 and turned things around to make the playoffs. Frank Reich is already an NFL playoff legend after being the QB of the Bills team that came back to beat Houston in 1993. Can he deliver a similar result against Houston in 2018?
4. Kansas City
What to Like: Patrick Mahomes is fun.
What Not To Like: The insane hype around Patrick Mahomes. Also, their defense is downright atrocious.
The Verdict: Andy Reid has never won a Super Bowl and is just 1-4 in the playoffs as Chiefs head coach. He is 1-4 in Championship Games and lost his only Super Bowl appearance (to New England in 2004). Will Mahomes lead Reid to the Promised Land or will he come up short in the playoffs once again?
What to Like: Everything about the way they play defense. They drafted Roquan Smith then went out and made a massive trade for Khalil Mack who instantly transformed their defense into a top-caliber unit.
What Not To Like: The Bears have some issues at Wide Receiver. They don’t have a consistent play-maker for Trubisky to throw to and their offense has been hit-or-miss all year.
The Verdict: The Bears play tough, hard-nosed defense. They rush the passer, they force turnovers. Even in the modern pass-happy NFL they have been able to shut down high-powered passing attacks. Their defense is fun but their offense leaves something to be desired. In a loaded NFC field they have a hard road ahead.
What to Like: JJ Watt is a good person. They have flown a bit under the radar this season. Deshaun Watson is a fun young QB and has an insanely talented receiver in DeAndre Hopkins.
What Not To Like: If you’re a Pitt fan, you probably don’t like Bill O’Brien because he coached at Penn State.
The Verdict: Of all the AFC teams, Houston would probably be the most preferable to see reach the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, that is unlikely as the Texans have never even reached an AFC Championship Game.
1. LA Rams
What to Like: Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the league and played locally at Penn Hills High School and Pitt.
What Not To Like: They have some unlikable players such as Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters. Since the Rams-Chiefs shootout game on Monday Night, the Rams have looked downright pedestrian.
The Verdict: Sean McVay, in his second year as Rams head coach, still has 26 players from Jeff Fisher’s final team. Mike Tomlin who some say “only won with Bill Cowher’s Players” had 22 of Cowher’s players on his 2008 team that won the Super Bowl.