The NFL Playoffs can be a lonely time for Detroit Lions fans. By the time we get to the divisional round, the only direct interests a Lions fan can have is to root against their fellow in-division rivals.
But that’s no fun. It’s more satisfying to find a team you actually like and make them your interim team throughout January. Love is stronger than hate, so I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of teams left in the playoffs worthy of your adoration. Sure, there may be two NFC North teams still in the playoffs, but instead of simply rooting against them, let’s find some teams entertaining enough to root for this weekend.
Here are all eight remaining playoff teams ranked in terms of likeability.
The Baltimore Ravens aren’t new to the competitor game, but this version of the Ravens is nothing like we’ve seen before. Lamar Jackson is the league’s MVP and is a pleasure to watch every week. Best yet, the Ravens are a team that’s innovative enough to embrace Jackson’s skillset to create the kind of offense we don’t typically see in the NFL.
And for you defense lovers, the Ravens still hold that tough-nosed identity that have made them contenders for years: third in points allowed, fourth in DVOA.
The 49ers have everything. An innovative offense, a suffocating defense and a cast of characters that make them easy to root for. Whether you think he’s hero or a villain, Richard Sherman always entertains, and he’s somehow playing some of the best ball of his career at 31 years old. Throw in George Kittle, who is both a phenomenal talent and a pretty awesome dude, and you’ve got a team that’s easy to get behind.
Patrick Mahomes. Enough said.
There’s honestly not much else I love about the Chiefs, but I still kind of view them as underdogs, even with the 2018 NFL MVP. They’re still just 2-11 in their last 13 playoff games, so it’s always nice to see some new teams find postseason success.
If you’re looking for an underdog with a good story, the Texans may be your team. They’ve never made it to a conference championship, and they’re inching towards being 10-point underdogs to the Chiefs this week.
Plus, you’ve got Deshaun Watson, who showed last week the moment is not too big for the 24-year-old quarterback.
I’ve got nothing against the Titans. Again, we’re talking about an underdog team with little playoff success (only three playoff games in past 12 years). But... they’re just kind of boring. They only managed to get two players into the Pro Bowl: their running back and their punter.
I guess if you love mauling teams that just physically dominate the line of scrimmage, the Titans are your team, but it’s not for me.
I was going to put the Vikings ahead of the Seahawks simply because I’m tired of Seattle, but they get a one-spot bump for adding Marshawn Lynch. Lynch hasn’t been very good since his late-season return, but the man is so much fun to watch, whether he’s on the field, on the sidelines or playing video games with Conan O’Brien.
Otherwise, I’m tired of the Seahawks’ insane luck. I’m tired of Pete Carroll. And as much as I love Quandre Diggs and wish the best for him, it’s definitely going to hurt watching him succeed.
Russell Wilson is fun, though.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Of all the NFC North teams, the Vikings are by far the least offensive. Their fans are nice—almost to a fault—and outside of Anthony Barr, their roster doesn’t seem to really have a true villain. Plus it was nice to see Kirk Cousins put the “can’t win big games” narrative behind him, in the hopes that one day Matthew Stafford can do the same.
Still, I am compelled to put them at the bottom of this list due to divisional rules.
Aaron Rodgers is smug. The Packers have won enough championships to appease fans for decades. I hate their spoiled fans and their stupid worthless stock. I’d put them ninth if I could.
Actually, I make the rules here. They’re 32nd.
32. Green Bay Packers