We’ve all seen the knockoffs of the Terrible Towel flying in opposing stadiums during this NFL postseason in which the originator of the rally towel is spectating from the sideline. It was a season of missed opportunities for the Steelers, and as such, most of us fans are still sitting back and nurturing a sense of loss as to what might have been.
However, before we move to the offseason, where the focus shifts to free agency, the NFL Draft, and training camp, there’s still football to be played.
That begs the question: if you’re a member of Steelers Nation who’s still watching the games being played, who should you root for to win Super Bowl LIII?
Let’s take a look at the games that have yet to be played and which teams are the easiest to stomach hoisting a Lombardi Trophy at the end.
NFC Championship Game
From as long ago as November, the New Orleans Saints have been looking like an unstoppable force: their path to the Super Bowl has seemed assured. If this is the case, they will undoubtedly be made about as popular in Atlanta (home of the big game) as the Steelers would be if the Super Bowl was being played at the FirstEnergy stadium in Cleveland! (That’s because of the inter-division rivalry between the Falcons and the Saints in the NFC South!)
However, Southern Hospitality should be on the mind of Steelers fans, as rooting for Pittsburgh is now thrown out the window. Steelers fan can now attempt to be impartial observers. Those who enjoy a little sports betting will see that the Saints are favored to win. (But there is really very little in the odds between all four of the remaining teams.)
Home field advantage is a big deal at this stage of the season and that is likely to have as big an impact on Rams quarterback Jared Goff as anyone. Goff has had a variable season, and while he was looking as good as any quarterback on the planet in the earlier rounds, he’s clearly been struggling over the past six games. In fact, he had a higher TD-to-INT ratio than Ben Roethlisberger, who led the league in picks!
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay has been seeking to mask Goff’s struggles by calling as many run plays as he can. Against this season’s second-best run defense in the NFL and with the deafening sound of Saints fans on all sides, there will be nowhere to hide.
That leads me to believe that the Saints are favored to win, but should Steelers fans pull for the team from the Big Easy?
One factor I use to determine who I root for is rivalries: there’s no beef between the Steelers and Saints as far as I’m aware. Sure, the two went head-to-head a month ago in a fantastic game, but just because New Orleans (controversially I may add) won the game, that doesn’t mean I want them to fall on their face this Sunday. In fact, I usually pull for the teams that beat my team; in a way it validates that the Steelers weren’t all that bad and lost to the better team.
The Saints also wear “black and gold”, have a long-time head coach and quarterback, plus a few other similarities that make it a little easier for me to pull for them versus the Rams.
For me, the Rams represent the NFL’s push to force the Los Angeles TV market down our throats. We get it, it’s the second-largest TV market. But are their fans really that invested in the teams which just moved there? The Rams represent some tradition when it comes to both the NFL and its presence in LA, but just one look at last week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys (where a lot of the oppositions’ s fanbase showed up) tells me that aside from Hollywood celebrities looking for facetime, not too many people are Rams fans unless they have been for 40-50 years, or they jumped on the winning bandwagon.
I’m also not a big fan of showboats such as Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. I did Todd Gurley’s toughness and the unstoppable Aaron Donald, but when comparing them to Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and company, the choice for me is easy.
It’s Saints all the way.
That and I really despise the throwback Rams blue uniforms, where the helmets don’t match the jersey!
AFC Championship Game
This is a bitter pill to swallow for Steelers fans, as watching any AFC title game without Pittsburgh in it would be!
On one side you have an upstart Kansas City team who has played the Steelers multiple times throughout the last few seasons with back-and-forth results.
On the other, you have a New England Patriots team who plays in a chump division and simply sleepwalks their way into the postseason each year.
Yeah, I said it… I’m tired of seeing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And yes, I’m a hater. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re a Steelers fans who is tired of them too. Pittsburgh finally got their comeuppance this season with a win over the Patriots but nothing would be more satisfying than seeing this “dynasty” finally crumble and get out of everyone else’s way.
Many people were already picking the Patriots and Chiefs to play in this game from about midway through the season, with the Steelers figured into that following a six-game win streak. When Pittsburgh’s winning ways fell off a cliff, it was fairly clear these two teams would be the top two seeds in the AFC. The question was whether or not the game would be played at Arrowhead Stadium or not.
That’s fairly important, as noted above home field advantage is an advantage at this stage of the game. That may be the deciding factor in which team has the edge: New England has failed to win an AFC title game on the road since defeating, you guessed it, the Steelers at Heinz Field many moons ago.
That should tick Steelers fans off enough to pull for the Chiefs, but I have a few more reasons to sway those of you who “respect the Patriots”. There’s an intriguing battle between the quarterbacks who are separated by a 20-year age gap.
The Patriots racked up more than 500 yards against the Chiefs when they met in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to prevail. Andy Reid has proved time and again that he is the one head coach who has the measure of Bill Belichick, and given the arctic conditions that are forecast for Kansas City at the weekend, the Chiefs could have the edge.
And don’t we finally want to see Andy Reid win one?
Well… that’s where things could go south, literally. However, if you’re a Steelers fan I can guarantee it will be a lot easier to watch one final week of football without the Patriots, rather than with them!
Super Bowl LIII
The bookmakers agree that Saints vs. Chiefs is the most likely Super Bowl scenario, and if that transpires, the Saints will be warm favorites to go all the way. This is a team that knows how to win against adversity as events from 2010 attest, whereas the Chiefs have not made it as far as the Super Bowl since the 1960s.
On the other side, this could be the feel-good story for Sean Payton and Drew Brees, but no doubt others are salivating at the idea of another big-time rematch between the Rams and Chiefs too!
In the event that the Patriots emerge victorious this weekend, however, it could be another story. We may not like to think about it, but don’t be surprised if Tom Brady adds yet another Super Bowl ring to his collection… and that should irritate Steelers fans even more as the Patriots would match the Steelers record of six Super Bowl championships.