Fooch's Note: This is our game thread, but check out Florida Danny's statistical preview of the Ravens-Steelers, kicking off at 1:30pm.
Last weekend I put together a list of the twelve playoff teams and the order in which I would root for them. My rooting list took a bit hit. Now that the 2011 playoffs have moved from the wild card round into the divisional round, I thought I'd update that list as we get ready to enjoy the afternoon/evening playoff schedule. For now, here was my top twelve, with the eliminated teams crossed out:
1. Philadelphia Eagles 2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. New England Patriots
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. New Orleans Saints
9. Chicago Bears
10. New York Jets
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Seattle Seahawks
Today's playoff action features the remaining top two on my list as the Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers at 5:00 pm pacific on FOX. The early afternoon game at 1:30pm features the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Based on a few developments in my rooting choices, I've decided to re-order my list with some adjustments. Most important is removing the three-way tie for last. Ties are lame..
This new list will be ranked by how I'm rooting for teams this weekend, instead of my rankings for the Super Bowl. The playoffs are a week-to-week kind of deal and with the 49ers busy figuring out their new coaching staff, my rooting interests will continue changing from week to week. Head past the jump to check out my new rankings.
1. Green Bay Packers - The Packers have dealt the 49ers a good deal of heartbreak, but I'm willing to look past that in part because I blame he who shall not be named for a good chunk of that. More importantly, Aaron Rodgers is eminently more likable. Last week I had the Falcons ahead of the Packers, but I think I'm rooting for the Packers a bit more at this point.
2. Baltimore Ravens - I'm a Joe Flacco fan, enjoy the Ravens, and have no trouble rooting for the brother of Jim Harbaugh. However, this might be as much an anti-Steelers selection as it is a pro-Ravens choice. My feelings on Ben Roethlisberger are sufficiently known at this point. Few things this weekend would delight me more than seeing the Ravens walk into Heinz Field and upset the Steelers.
3. New England Patriots - I mentioned last week that my dad is from Boston so the Patriots aren't exactly in my doghouse. However, for this week it's all about beating the Jets. There has been a considerable amount of smack talk and I'd be amused to see Rex Ryan and the Sanchize lose tomorrow. Of course, as you'll see in my Jets listing, there is some wavering....
4. Atlanta Falcons - I suppose it could be a bit of a coin flip at this point between the Packers and Falcons because Matt Ryan can be an entertaining quarterback. At the same time there's something sort of boring about the Falcons. I'm not sure what it is exactly.
5. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler gets a lot of crap and some of it is probably deserved. Nonetheless, I can't stand Rick Reilly, which might be reason enough to root for Cutler and the Bears. They're battling the number six team on this list so one of the bottom half will be gone no matter what.
6. Seattle Seahawks - I had them as the bottom of my three-way tie for tenth last week, but I've nudged them up a bit. I still find them obnoxious, but I love the chaos that could result from the 7-9 Seahawks potentially hosting the 10-6 Packers in the NFC championship game. The NFC West gets crapped on all the time but they seem to generally do a solid job with their playoff teams. How about the Seahawks go to the NFC title game and get crushed at home by Green Bay? Anybody, anybody?
7. New York Jets - I find myself in a dilemma. Rex Ryan can be so obnoxious and Jets fans can be just ridiculous, which makes it easy to root against them. And yet, I find myself amused at times by the Jets, and Rex Ryan in particular, much like a solid WWF (I refuse to call it WWE) villain can get under your skin. You dislike him but there are times when you find yourself snickering at his antics. Rex Ryan has moved from pointless and obnoxious to well-played villain in my mind. I'd prefer the Patriots win, but a little part of me is intrigued by six words: Rex Ryan Super Bowl Media Day.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers - This is what I said last week about the Steelers, and it still applies: "The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger, which is reason enough to stick them at the bottom. And actually, I've never told anybody this, but I have an irrational disdain for Hines Ward. I don't know why, but that smile on his face after a big play annoys me for some reason."