Who to Root For: Championship Edition

Street Talk Who to Root For: Championship Edition

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As great as Wild Card Weekend was, the Divisional round games last weekend shone just as bright. Here’s a quick recap for those that have been living under a rock:

– The Panthers OWNED Seattle… for like 30 minutes. Then the Seahawks OWNED Carolina… for like 29 minutes. Then Cam snatched a 12th man flag. Then some chick acted like it was stomping on the American flag.

– The Chiefs were down 14 with roughly 6 minutes to go. So Andy Reid & on-his-way-out-the-door-Doug Pederson called a masterful TD drive… that could’ve been measured with a sundial. And they lost. Because of that. Thanks Andy.

– Apparently the receivers in Denver want Osweiler back in. That’s the only explanation for the umpteen drops in such a big game. But once again, Manning FTW because the stage isn’t big enough for a choke (yet).

– The Packers defense committed a SIN by letting Fitz hangout midfield in OT without a single Packer within 20 yards. The good news? Aaron Rodgers can teach them to repent with his flawless Hail Mary’s.

And just like that? We’re down to 4. So who comes away victorious this weekend? Who is sent packing? Who shines bright in the spotlight and who cracks under pressure?

To answer all of these questions… I have no clue.

But I DO know who I am rooting for this weekend, and who all of Ravens Nation should be pulling for, so let’s check out the matchups and see how they need to shakeout for a happy city of Baltimore!

DISCLAIMER: Once again, don’t take this to Vegas, don’t call your bookie, don’t even place a gentleman’s bet with a co-worker based on my calls here. Honestly, you’d have a better chance of turning a useless psychopath like Valentine into a successful executive… and if you don’t get that reference, you’ve never watched Trading Spaces with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, and your judgement should already be in question more than mine… so you should go find it On Demand. Like right away. Then come back and tell me how right I was! I mean the part with Aykroyd shoving a salmon filet down his santa suit… classic Aykroyd… I mean, he was better in Ghostbusters, and Murphy was better in Beverly Hills Cop but still, top notch cinema right there. Oh and Jamie Lee Curtis was there too! So to summarize- don’t bet on my word UNLESS IT’S ABOUT TRADING SPACES BEING AWESOME.

 New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

Sunday 1/31 @ 3:05pm

Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas slams the ball to the ground after scoring a touchdown (left). Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski flies in the air toward the endzone, looking for the goal line on his way to a touchdown (right).

For some people this is an easy decision: When you factor in DelfateGate, SpyGate, the Tuck Rule, obnoxious Belichick, Ugg boots, Brady’s incessant cries for flags, Billy Cundiff’s shanked field goal attempt, Lee Evans’ drop in the endzone, Facebook posts from Wes Welker’s wife, obnoxious Pats fans from Bah-stahn, Peter Griffin being a Pats fan, the rest of the bandwagon fanbase and their sense of ‘the league is trying to sabotage us because we’re the best? IT’S A NO BRAINER.

But some people are more reserved. Some people don’t want to see a team run by John ‘I Refuse to play for Baltimore‘ Elway go to the Super Bowl. Others feel slighted by Gary Kubiak’s departure and want to see him fall short of grace. Then there’s those who loathe Manning (I assume because he owned the Ravens when in Indy) and want to see him go back to being a duck-throwing machine and cost his team the game.

Then there’s those who say “I want to see them both lose” knowing all along that the statement in itself is not only irrational, but extremely overplayed and tiresome and warrants a newspaper-to-a-dog-nose type response.

And while there are truly legit reasons to want both teams to lose (not at the same time, knucklehead), the Baltimore fan approach is very simple: who stands the best chance to lose in the Super Bowl?

On one hand, you have a Patriots team with a bunch of rings* and a healthy roster. BUT they are not as solid defensively as the Broncos, and their offensive talent outside of Brady and Gronk isn’t exactly stellar. The Pats also lost 4 of their last 6 regular season games, so it’s not like they come into the playoffs on fire…

On the other hand, you have a Denver team that barely squeezed by the Steelers. The same Steelers who started a gimpy Big Ben, missed the services of stud receiver Antonio Brown and started Fitz Touissant in the backfield. The same Steelers whose porous secondary actually kept Manning & Co. in check most of the game. Yea that team almost took out Denver. Yikes…

Taking the pros and cons into consideration? I’d say the Broncos look like the easier pickins for the NFC, so with that?

WHO TO ROOT FOR:

Broncos QB Peyton Manning raises both arms in the air while making checks at the line of scrimmage.

 

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Sunday 1/31 @ 6:40pm

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald gets up after scoring a touchdown, surrounded by his linemen (left). Panthers QB Cam Newton pointing up and to the right, celebrating a win with a bunch of his Carolina teammates (right).

While the AFCC features 2 teams most Baltimore fans want to see lose, the NFCC features 2 teams that Baltimore fans likely remain neutral about. I think the common thought in this area is simply ‘I don’t care who goes to the Super Bowl from the NFC, as long as they beat the Pats or Broncos.

And I agree 100%!

So let’s look at the Cards first, shall we?

As mentioned last week, the Ravens got hosed in their matchup against the Cards this season. While we can blame officiating for the bulk of those issues, it still stings seeing a Cardinals team that the Ravens very well could have beat (in Arizona!) moving on the Conference Championship game. There’s also something to be said about former-Steelers OC Bruce Arians leading a team to the Super Bowl and having to hear the little Steelers trolls trying to take credit for his success, as if that success has anything to do with his stint in Pittsburgh. Mind you that stint ended with the team forcing him out and claiming retirement.

Actually, wouldn’t it be sweet to see the coach the Steelers booted out of town in embarassing fashion come back and lead his new team to a Lombardi?

Then we have the Panthers, led by the enigmatic Cam Newton. I for one, am a big Cam fan. I enjoy his antics, his enthusiams and obviously, his talent. Sure he had some issues in college and attitude problems in his early years in the league. But this Cam is not that Cam. This is Cam v2.0. This Cam is a BOSS who takes that offense by the horns and despite having less wide receiver talent than the Ravens, turned it into a top-tier offense.

Looking at the defensive side for the Panthers, isn’t this what we love to see as Ravens fans? Carolina is rocking that hard nosed, stout defense (other than the 2nd half last week) that is relentless when it comes to getting into the backfield and disrupting the passing game. It’s what we miss here in Baltimore, and what we crave for in years to come.

Regardless which team you chose to root for here, my little cousin Will is a Panthers fan, so I got his back 100%. And he’s not a bandwagon Panthers fan either- dude was born in NC and reps his birthplace, and for that I give him some serious props!

So yea… go team Michael Oher I suppose…

WHO TO ROOT FOR:

Panthers QB Cam Newton raises one finger in the air, signaling to the crowd as he walks out of the tunnel.

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Adam Bonaccorsi

About Adam Bonaccorsi

Known by his fellow 227ers at M&T Bank Stadium as “Are You Kidding Me?” Adam is a vocal and opinionated Baltimore sports fans, who appreciates thinking outside of the box and offering far-fetched perspectives that tend to leave readers left wondering ‘what if?’ or sometimes 'seriously bro?' and occasionally, 'I'll have what he's drinking!' Or just 4-letter expletive-laden responses. Those are the best. More from Adam Bonaccorsi

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