So your team is out of the NFC playoffs. Whether they never made it or were already knocked out in the first round, the question remains: what do you do now?

You could take up rooting for a basketball or hockey team that’s closely linked to your preferred football team (if you don’t already have one.) Maybe you can start watching that international football game known as soccer. Or maybe you could just have a break from sports in general and take up knitting.

But for some of us, these aren’t options. We want to watch football, and have a reason to watch it when our teams fail us. Sure, bracket challenges for jelly beans always keep games interesting, but there are other options. Here are the do’s and don’t’s of selecting some other football team to root for.

Minnesota Viking fans stare at the field after the Vikings lose

Photo Credit: Darren Hauck/Getty Images

NFC North

Fans of any NFC North team not in the playoffs can cross off the Green Bay Packers from their list of teams to root for without feeling incredibly dirty. Fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions hate all things green and gold, a deep-seated hatred cemented early in life. The NFC North has some of the NFL’s oldest rivalries, and the Bears-Packers rivalry, which began in 1921, may just be the oldest. Even when “The Great Divisional Muddling” split the Central conferences into North and South, these teams stayed together to fight it out on the field at least twice a year.

So who can you root for in the playoffs? The Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens are some decent choices, since they’re safely in the AFC Conference. The Denver Broncos have some potential as well, since they beat the Green Bay Packers for the Lombardi trophy in 1998. Bears fans are probably conflicted about rooting for the Broncos because of mixed feelings about Jay Cutler, who was sent from Denver from Chicago for Kyle Orton and a pile of draft picks.

Who can’t you root for? Detroit Lions fans sure can’t root for the Dallas Cowboys. Not that they would have wanted to anyway, but the flag debacle in last week’s wild card round will not go away, at least until the Lions end their 24-year playoff victory drought. The Seattle Seahawks pose problems in the division too, mostly because of historical defensive pride by Vikings and Bears fans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan looks unhappy during a game against the Carolina Panthers

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran / Staff

NFC South

I’m not sure if anyone connected to the NFC South wants to see a football for the next few months after such a horrendous divisional showing. Chances are that if you’re not Carolina Panthers fan, you’re better off rooting for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, or the Memphis Grizzlies, or even the New Orleans Pelicans or Orlando Magic. The regional NHL teams are doing pretty well, too. Just saying.

But if you need to watch football — and we understand if you do — you have options. Saints fans can probably get away with rooting for the Indianapolis Colts. Sure, your team beat the Colts in a Super Bowl, so no sour grapes there. The same can be said for the Denver Broncos since they’re led by Peyton Manning, the quarterback for that same Colts team. The Atlanta Falcons fans, however, should look elsewhere; their beloved dirty birds lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos in 1999. Rooting for the New England Patriots wouldn’t be so bad, since they stopped the Panthers from winning their first championship in 2004.

Of course, there is no logical reason to root for the Carolina Panthers if you’re a fan of the Falcons, Saints or Buccaneers fan. But hardcore rivalries with this crop of playoff teams are few and far between. If all allegiances fail, go with your gut.

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A fan cheers for the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the game

Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

NFC East

Fans of the Giants, Eagles and Redskins have an easy choice of allegiance for the playoffs: whatever team is playing the Dallas Cowboys. The rivalries between NFC East teams go so deep that fans would probably root for Charlie Manson if it meant that the Cowboys would lose.

So who can you root for? New York Giants fans may enjoy rooting for the Seattle Seahawks because they dislike the 49ers so much, and nothing would annoy 49ers fans more than the Seahawks winning another championship.

At the same time, Giants fans probably won’t be rooting for the Baltimore Ravens in any sort of way after being housed by them in 2001. And fans of the Philadelphia Eagles could possibly ally themselves with the Cowboys if it meant that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots wouldn’t rack up another Lombardi trophy.

St. Louis Rams fan wears a hat with horns

Photo Credit: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

NFC West

It’s safe to say that any NFC West fan outside of the Northwest is not rooting for the Seattle Seahawks. This is especially true for fans of the San Francisco 49ers, who would probably root for any team that the Seahawks played. Unless it was a game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys for the NFC Championship. At that point, a 49ers fan would probably throw their television out a window.

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals could probably do without rooting for the Panthers after getting ousted from the playoffs this year. And I’m sure 49ers fans still hold a grudge against the Ravens for winning the Harbowl.

So who can you root for? Maybe the Indianapolis Colts, since Andrew Luck is such a nice guy. I mean, how can not like a guy who congratulates opponents for nice plays? Fans of the St. Rams can probably root for anybody else, since that’s what most people in St. Louis are doing anyway: rooting for a different team. Either that or they’re waiting for that bus to to MLB spring training.

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Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.


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