Something seems wrong in the AFC.
Everybody is talking about Tom Brady and his young-gun offense that put up over 5,000 passing yards, including the record-setting Rob Gronkowski, who put up 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, shattering all numbers previously held by tight ends. Brady is a three-time Super Bowl champion who has, in some people's opinions, been too far removed from a championship game.
The Houston Texans are the ultimate Cinderella story, a team that lost Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub, as well as All-Pro defensive end and former first overall draft choice Mario Williams in the middle of the season. The Texans are marching on in the playoffs with a third-string quarterback after dominating the Cincinnati Bengals.
Then, there's the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore can be described as a team with a stifling, but not world-class defense. Their offense is run by a small running back who is among the best in the league, but often flies under the national radar and a game-managing quarterback who has the personality of a window sill.
We've already seen Ray Lewis win his Super Bowl in the 2000-01 season. The middle linebacker is one of the best of all time, but Lewis winning a championship is not something we haven't seen before. Among the rest of the players on the team besides safety Ed Reed, there isn't a big interest in seeing these guys get their due by winning the Lombardi Trophy.
Nobody wants the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, the casual fan would be happy with the near-perfect and possible repeat champion Green Bay Packers.
We all want to see Drew Brees, who passed Dan Marino's single-season passing mark, go on and win his second Super Bowl. Brees is a tremendously popular personality who is deemed one of the "good guys" of the league. Brees leads an explosive offense that would have fans salivating for a New England-New Orleans championship.
The San Francisco 49ers have shut down everyone who has come against them to earn a first-round bye and home field advantage as the second seed in the NFC. There are plenty of 1980s and 1990s holdover fans who want to see nothing more than their 49ers go for their sixth Super Bowl.
The New York Giants are right there with everyone else mentioned. The Giants have a huge fanbase, a team with a culture of winning and, more recently, they have been the monster-slayers of the NFL. This is the biggest upset threat in the playoffs, bar none.
Who does that leave out? Again, nobody wants to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
Unless you are a lifelong Ravens fan, which means you're 15 years old, or a dissident of the post-glory Washington Redskins era who's jumped ship and attached yourself to the Baltimore underbelly, you have no interest in seeing Baltimore go all the way.
Not only does the fan not want to see the black and purple in the Super Bowl, you can expect NFL big wigs and sponsorship to be extremely disappointed if they make it all the way. Let us review:
New Orleans Saints—feel-good story, likeable personalities, recent champion, Drew Brees is in MVP talks.
New England—superstar quarterback, most recent NFL dynasty.
Houston—underdog of the millennium, potential story for how to defy all odds and succeed.
Denver—Tebow Mania, underdog of near Houston proportions.
San Francisco—lengthy playoff drought, former dynasty, Joe Montana would be proud.
New York—giant killers, can overcome any odds, large fanbase.
Then there's Baltimore, the team that nobody really wants in the Super Bowl.
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