Finding A Team In Another NFL Postseason Without The Browns

The most popular sport in America begins its postseason this afternoon, and for the 12th time since their reincarnation 13 years ago, the Cleveland Browns are nowhere to be found. The Browns are once again spending “Week 18” at home on the couch, their fans already worked up about draft picks and the starting quarterback position next season. At least we know our coach is coming back, which has been about a 50/50 occurrence this time of the year since the Browns returned (a good time to mention Romeo Crennel is expected to get the job in Kansas City).

It’s often the case that Cleveland fans are forced to take in a sport’s postseason without one of their beloved teams involved – especially in the NFL. But this season is made all the more difficult and bitter by the fact that all three of the Browns’ division rivals are still playing for a Super Bowl, beginning today with the Cincinnati Bengals. It begs the question, what are you watching for and who are you rooting for?

When it becomes clear that my team will play no part in a particular sport’s postseason, I always need to find one team I wouldn’t mind see winning the title – or at least, in a more cynical vein, one team I absolutely do not want to enjoy success. For Cleveland fans, it’s usually easy to pick out those teams you’re rooting against – Cowboys, Heat, any team from New York, Lakers, etc. – and commence trolling. When the schadenfreude equation is removed, most ambivalent fans root for good games. But is there anyone in this year’s NFL playoffs you will definitely be rooting for?

It helps to start in the AFC, where it’s a little easier to eliminate some options because you’re so used to rooting against these teams during the regular season. The Pittsburgh Steelers…no. The Baltimore Ravens…no. The Cincinnati Bengals…maybe you married into a family from Southern or Central Ohio that roots for the Bengals so you’ll oblige, but otherwise, they’re a clear number three.

That leaves the Patriots, Texans, and Broncos. You can spend your time rooting for teams led by Tim Tebow and T.J. Yates if you’d like, but it will be just as futile as rooting for the Browns. Can you really root for the Patriots? They are one of those front-running teams I mentioned above, and all their fans are also Red Sox fans who should never be happy about anything in any other arm of life. The AFC is hopeless.

Which brings us to the NFC and your personal opinions. The Giants…no New York teams allowed, even if king troll himself Rob Parker says they deserve to win this weekend because Atlanta has bad fans. I’m partial to the Falcons, for the very arbitrary reason that their quarterback went to my alma mater. The Packers will find quarter in my house, as any small market team from the Midwest with generally likable characters and fans is welcome – even if they’re not “underdogs.”

I find Jim Harbaugh irksome, which is enough here when you’re picking nits. The 49ers can step down, although here’s hoping for good things for Donte Whitner. While we all enjoy commiserating on Rust Wire together, the camaraderie with Detroit begins and ends there – too many wounds on other fields of battle. As for the Saints – amazing city, wonderful food, good people, likable team – I wish them well, they’re just not first in line. They’ve had their fun recently, and here’s hoping Elyria’s Mad Hatter can add to it on Monday night.

I guess that leaves me with the Falcons, followed by the Packers but I imagine I’ll be moved to root against rather than for teams in most games. I love the postseason in almost every sport, even if my teams aren’t involved. The NFL playoff weekends add a level of excitement to an otherwise dreadful time of year. I wish the Browns were involved, but I’ll watch almost every game from beginning to end.  Here’s hoping there won’t be any decision this week next year.

Those are just my arbitrary opinions. What are yours?

  • Tom T

    As Browns fans we should root against the Falcons, given that we own their first round pick (and their fourth, for what it’s worth). If the Falcons lose this weekend, that pick is somewhere between 21-24, which sounds a lot better than 32 (if the Falcons win the Super Bowl). It would be nice for a change to just root for the Browns instead of always worrying about draft order…

  • Chris

    THE FALCONS?? And ruin our draft position?

  • Brendan

    Yep, the Falcons…sick of talking about the draft already. I’ve gone back and forth all year about it.

  • Subadai

    This is an interesting post. Great idea. I never really thought about how we decide who to root for when the Browns (like always) don’t make the playoffs.

    This year I’m not rooting for a team to win it all. I’m rooting for a certain matchup in the SB. I want to see NE vs NE/GB. There will be a bajillion points in that game. I have an ulterior motive here. If we get a superbowl that ends w/ a 72 to 68 score then the NFL will HAVE to do something to fix the ridiculous offensive bias in the rules and officiating, won’t they? I hope so.

    BTW. I always knew that Redsox fans wouldn’t be able to handle success. I sure hope us Browns fans don’t become douchy like them if (when?) we win a superbowl.

  • Subadai


    NE vs NO/GB is what I meant to say.

  • Zips4Life

    Have to go for the Packers. They knocked off the Steelers last year, so that’s enough reason to root for them this postseason.

  • Omar’s Magic Glove

    I’m pulling for the New Orleans Saints to win it all. NO has all of the offense to match up with the big scoring offenses and I think the defense has good enough DB’s and linemen to matchup and contain against the other potent scoring teams in the NFL.

    In the AFC I’m pulling for the Cincinatti Dalton’s and the Denver Tebow’s because I figure, eh why not. I like Ohio success and Steeler misery whenever possible.

  • Alec115

    Considering I’m Cincinnati-bound for college, I love the city and will be pulling for the Bengals in the postseason. As long as they’re not playing the Browns, I have nothing against Paul Browns’ “other” team. As long as Baltimore and Pittsburgh get beaten, I’ll be happy.

  • PNR

    The Pack. Defending champs, yes, but excellent no-drama team with great fans from a cold midwestern town.

  • ClemJax

    Being married to a Louisiana native, the Saints are first in line in our house. The Packers are a reasonable second if NO gets knocked out early.

    On the AFC side, while I find no purchase with team (still hate them from the 80s) and the player (you have no idea how huge the hero worship is here in north Florida), I pretty much want to see Denver do something in the postseason if for no other reason than to see multiple media/blogger/random fans’ heads collectively explode.

  • jimkanicki

    last year i really liked the lions and felt good for our long-suffering cousins in detroit. but that team turned me off this year.
    so i got nothing.

  • Baclap

    I will be pulling for Eli and the Giants. Typically I hate everything New York but Eli is my guy. I love their underdog position and I was pulling for them hard in both games against the Cowboys this year. It was going to be Tennessee but since they didn’t make it I’m going with the NYG.

  • James

    Go Falcons! I don’t care about the draft pick. I actually like the Falcons. And if not them then the Saints

  • Matt

    What prevents me from rooting for the Bengals is that I don’t want them to win a SB before the Browns do.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    The number one goal is to avoid a Baltimore v Steelers AFC championship. Knowing one of them is going to the SB is just the worst feeling in the world. Beyond that, you cant root for the Falcons because of the pick. I dont know how you could say it doesnt matter. Its akin to saying you want to trade the 22nd pick for the 32nd pick straight up.

    On the positive side of this, Im backing NO and and NE. NO to win it all (GB would be acceptable as well) and NE b/c they have the best chance to knock off the Steelers and Ravens. In an IDEAL world, it would be NO v HOU in the SB.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    one additional thought: The day we are in the SB, what unbiased NFL fan is NOT going to be rooting for us??? My God, we will be a huge fan favorite (unless we act like the classless Lions and Suh people all season).

  • Kildawg

    @Foghorn Leghorn: I say when SEA made it to the SB (led by some guy named Mike Holmgren mind you), I rooted for them but many including refs wore urine pants. (SEA still doesnt have a SB win). In general: Least we dont have to worry bout the Bungles winning anything (Go Houston!) Take Tebow over hated team that looks like they peed their pants. As for NFC, take GB or NO and hope NYG gets home upset over ATL (prefer other draft pick in early-mid 20s compared to a number starting with 3).

  • forrealmccoy

    I don’t know about you all but I have as deep a hatred for the Bungles as I do for Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I don’t know if its the uniforms or that dreadful city or that awful chant (who dey (dat)?) whatever. I am writing this after they lost and I am very satisfied at the moment. Here’s to a Pittsburgh loss this week and a Ravens loss next week then all will be good in my sports world again. Go cavs!!!

  • Tom

    The Texans or the Broncos. When these situations come about (every single year because I’m a Cleveland fan) I choose whatever would be the funniest outcome. Either of those teams winning would be hilarious and stupid. But hey, even teams I cheer for because they AREN’T the team I don’t want to win arbitrarily lose. Cleveland curse touches all!

  • Porkchop xpress

    I was thinking about rooting for the Broncos, and then I started reading all of the “what a great story the underdog Broncos would be”. I noticed that Tebow is being painted as the ultimate underdog that has no chance, and thats when it hit me. Only in this bizzaro universe that is the NFL can a 6’4 inch 240 lb. supremely gifted athlete, who comes from a stable family that provided him with every opportunity to succeed, be considered an underdog.

  • Mike From Akron Ohio

    While My Brownies will have to wait till next year… I think this season might get interesting. Im thinking the AFC Championship Game alone will Be Pats vs. Either Steelers or Ravens. and the NFC Championship game will be Packers and Saints!

  • oribiasi

    @ Porkchop xpress: Don’t forget the God-angle, if for no other reason than this: No one else will forget it. Apparently being religious, coming from a nice, stable family and generally being a good guy marks you as an underdog now, too.

    “O brave new world! / That has such people in it!”

  • Scott

    PCX/oribiasi – I can contend with any argument that the Broncos themselves are underdogs, mostly because they are (a longshot to even make the big game let alone win it). But Tebow, a man with the background you’ve laid out plus one who has won at every single level could not be further from such.

    I can’t root for ATL due to the draft pick. It’s really a dead-heat tie between Green Bay and New Orleans at this stage.

  • Shamrock

    I echo GB or NO. Watching that Saints offense last night was amazing. I’d like to see Rogers VS Brees, on same field.

  • Ryan C

    Can’t root for the Broncos, Elway runs that team.

  • Big Z

    @ Ryan

    Yeah, but I can’t deal with any more national TV coverage of the Steelers. At least the Browns knocked them out of the Superbowl this year.

    Go Giants!

    I hope RG3 is already looking for real-estate near Berea.

  • Porkchop xpress

    @ Scott I totally agree the team is a huge dog, and if weren’t for being the Broncos I’d root for them, mostly because Von Miller is fun to watch play ball.

    Tebow as an underdog reminds me of when Jordan played baseball. He was a longshot yes, but can’t be an underdog, because of his huge talent and resources. Tebow is a Fullback/Linebacker/Tightend who nobody had the brass enough to put in his proper position. Like Jordan its a long shot that somebody lacking the skills to play QB could do so, but it certainly doesn’t make him a an underdog.

  • Tom

    In order of increasing desire to win:

    Steelers — Is it wrong to root for career-ending injuries for serial rapists?
    Ravens — Black and purple camo looks terrible
    Falcons — I’m sorry, but they have our draft pick(s). Rooting for them is literally rooting against us.
    Patriots — The only good thing about Boston is the Cincinnati-brewed Sam Adam’s
    Denver — No Elway would I root for them
    Cincinnati — Moot point, yes, but they’re my second favorite team in the AFC North
    ‘Niners — I tend to root against title heavy teams (5 SB wins), but it would be nice for someone to dilute the Steelers’ record
    Packers — Good, but it’s always interesting when the best team doesn’t win…
    Giants — I still have good will toward them for toppling the Pats a couple years back
    Saints — Who doesn’t want to see an offensive Super Bowl?
    Lions — Again, a moot choice, but you’ve always got to root for a comeback.
    Texans — I always root for the new kid to the dance.