An outsider’s guide to the Super Bowl: Who should you root for?

Andy Cuello, NFL

So your team didnt make the Super Bowl. It sucks. I know. But hey, there is still a reason to tune in. First off, it’s a great excuse to eat and drink too much (like we really need a reason), there are the Super Bowl commercials that companies drastically overpaid for (sure… like 5 will be good but the rest will be terrible), plus… we got Coldplay for the halftime show! (Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have ended with that last one…who gets excited about Coldplay anymore?)

But for the actual game, non-Broncos or Panthers fans still have a dog in this fight. In terms of not only rosters, but also coaching staffs and front offices, the NFL is a league with such massive amounts of turnover and attrition that there is a great chance your favorite team has either past, present, or potential future ties to either Denver or Carolina. So before you grab that 3rd helping of chicken wings or before ‘that guy’ at the party gets trashed and starts ranting about how their team should be in the Super Bowl ‘if only one or two things were different’, here is your handy guide as to why you should care about Denver and Carolina if you normally couldn’t care less about either team:

  • ginnMiami Dolphins: Seventh overall pick Tedd Ginn…OC and son of the Don, Mike Shula…and QB Coach/former Hurricane championship Quarterback Ken Dorsey: Between those three men, this Panther organization is full of #miamiboiz. And that stings.
  • Buffalo Bills: The Panthers identity this year is what I am sure Rex Ryan will point to in 2016 as what he wants the blueprint of his team to be: Ground and Pound with a Fierce D. Now the only question is, how close to Cam Newton can Tyrod Taylor make himself appear to be? LOLers…moving on.
  • New England Patriots: Hey butthurt chowda heads…how ah ya?! As I am sure you have ranted to your cousin Mahhk many times over the past weeks: this could be you. Matter of fact, with a made extra point, this probably would have been you instead of Denver. Question is how much longer can you live with Brady throwing to 5’6 white guys? Your lack of separation on the outside never catches up to you until you face a team like Denver in late January. Call Megatron right now.
  • New York Jets: Be honest, how hard are you rooting for Jehricho Cotchery to get a ring here? Speaking of Jets WRs, if you give fan favorite Eric Decker a truth serum, he’ll probably tell you he wishes he stayed in Denver. We all know it was his wife Jessie who wanted to grab some Broadway limelight.
  • Baltimore Ravens: Your 2014 OC Gary ‘Play Action’ Kubiak, as he was affectionately called by ‘Average’ Joe Flacco, is now coaching in a game that many never thought he could reach. An offensive coach by trade, has he truly spurred Denver’s attack? No, they suck. Going from Gary to Marc Trestman must have hurt.
  • Cleveland Browns: TJ Ward was a great soldier for you guys for a long time. He bolted for greener (pun intended) and more successful pastures. Root for him, don’t be a hater. You guys almost beat Denver earlier this year too! You’re not that far away I promise!
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: You, on the other hand, actually BEAT Denver this year in the snow. Probably the high point of your season. You also did it against their better QB (his name isn’t Manning). By the way, back when he was playing fewer snaps than the immortal Mike Wallace, you didn’t think Emmanuael Sanders was actually this good did you?
  • Cincinnati Bengals: Your QB was taken in the same year as Carolina’s, just 34 picks later. Though he doesn’t seem to be as far in his development as Cam, rest assured he has made significant progress. To be honest, with regards raw talent and 53-man-completedness, I think your roster is comparable to Denver’s (yes I just said that).
  • Gary-KubiakHouston Texans: Feel free to throw up now; you fired Gary Kubiak pretty much because Matt Schaub couldn’t stop throwing pick 6’s in September and October of 2013. Those two men I just mentioned are FAR and away the most successful coach and quarterback your moribund franchise has had in its short existence. Stay classy H-Town.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: You guys were the 1st team the Panthers played this year. You lost 20-9 in a game where it looked like Bortles would stagnate. Be happy that the Allens didn’t let him. You guys have lost to Peyton more than any other franchise in history. How good does it feel to see him like this?
  • Tennessee Titans: Cortland Finnegan was your best defensive player not named Haynesworth for a long time, famously scuffling with Andre Johnson on a balmy September ’09 afternoon. He’s now about to get a ring. You should root for him to get double-moved and burned by Sanders down the sideline. The dude is a punk.
  • Indianapolis Colts: Panthers GM Dave Gettleman’s refusal to draft offensive players with premium picks despite the painfully obvious need is very similar to your GM’s propensity to do the opposite; ignore your defensive needs. You spent a 1st last year on a kid who didn’t play. Why? You already had a better version of him (Hilton).
  • Oakland Raiders: Greg Knapp, your former OC from ’07-’12, and mastermind of those prolific Jamarcus Russell offenses is now the QB coach and “passing game coordinator” of these very Broncos. Funny thing is, Denver would probably be better off if Mr. Codine Syzurp was under center on Sunday.
  • San Diego Chargers: Very much like the Raiders, you also have a former coordinator on one of these teams, except he’s not a lowly Quarterbacks minion, but rather a master motivator in HC Ron Rivera who is  likely about to hoist the Lombardi. Perk up though, depending on Carr’s development and Peyton’s retirement, you will have the best QB in your division in 2016.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Your west coast/spread gun hybrid offense very much mimics that of Carolina, and you split with Denver this year, blowing them out once. Alex Smith’s statline from Week 10 may serve as a good proxy for what to expect from Cam.
  • New York Giants: Peyton can tie your quarterback’s career ring total with a win over Carolina. But you don’t see that happening. You were also John Fox’s last non-head coaching job when he left in 2002 to go onto coach both these teams. Stop overpaying for Denver’s defensive players btw, Ayers and DRC haven’t exactly lit the world on fire in the Meadowlands.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Just imagine what Chip could have done with a Cam-like talent? Instead he was saddled with the first overall pick from the previous year, Sam Bradford. Panther WR Philly Brown…is actually from Philly. That’s cool right? Sean McDermott wasn’t good in Philly but he’s whipped up a great defense this year.
  • wade-phillipsDallas Cowboys: For you guys, this game is 100% about Broncos DC Wade Phillips and star rusher DeMarcus Ware, two of the few remaining relics of that (historically forgotten) 2007 Cowboys team that went 13-3. Little did you guys know it at the time, but that team right there would be Romo’s best shot.
  • Washington Redskins: Ya like that?! You guys should be glad that you don’t have to make a $25-35 MM decision on your 2012 quarterback on an INSANELY small sample size of play like the Broncos will in March. Brock Osweiler will get paid somewhere, he’s too intriguing and raw not to, yet he’s a complete unknown. You guys at least (somewhat) know what you have in Cousins.
  • Green Bay Packers: This is still a ways away, but take notes Cheeseheads, because this Broncos team led by a ferocious defense and an aging QB who is living off his past reputation is what I think your squad will look like circa 2020. If anything, Rodgers’ game will age worse than Peyton’s because he is (at least somewhat) reliant on his legs. Luckily for you, Thompson has drafted Defense real well in the past 5 years.
  • Chicago Bears: Your current head coach has actually taken both of these squads to Super Bowls, losing both of them. Your current quarterback, who will inevitably get said coach fired , also used to be a member of the Broncos organization. You should be rooting for Peanut to get his jewelry, albeit on the IR.
  • Detroit Lions: For a very long time, people were talking about Ron Rivera in the way they talk about Jim Caldwell right now (conservative, not passionate). What’s weird is that it’s not like Caldwell doesn’t have a resume, he went to the Super Bowl in 2009 with one of the QBs who will be playing Sunday. Then three years later, he WINS a Super Bowl as an OC with a much lesser QB. I truly think you guys were better than you 7-9 record. Keep calm and carry on.
  • Minnesota Vikings: Your boy Jared Allen is not only playing Sunday, but about to get some jewelry. Just like I said to Cowboys fans, don’t be bitter, be happy. Also, if I were you, I would incorporate more spread concepts for Teddy like Shula does with Cam. Get him in the shotgun, roll him out, use his athleticism, because this I-Form stuff just waiting for Peterson to break one is not sustainable.
  • Atlanta Falcons: CONGRATULATIONS! After Sunday, you will go down in history as the only team to beat Carolina in 2015. I think that loss, if anything, was a blessing in disguise because it may have humbled Carolina a tad. For the love of God please protect Ryan better in 2016 because this Panthers D isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • New Orleans Saints: You were in this very game 6 years ago…against this same quarterback. How time flies: He’s gone downhill from there, and you certainly did too. Roman Harper played a huge role in that Saints-Colts game, and lo and behold here he is again knocking people around in the secondary, giving people CTE for the Panthers. Must be nice.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: By my estimation, you guys have the best chance in the NFC South to dethrone the Panthers in the next three years, and it’s because of Jameis ‘Crab Legs’ Winston. Many of the off-field questions surrounding Cam in 2011 were the same ones Jameis dealt with in 2015. I think he’s a keeper guys, and unlike Carolina, you actually gave him young weapons to grow with.
  • vernon-davisSan Francisco 49ers: Vernon Davis is going to his second super bowl in 4 years. Too bad he’s going to be riding the bench the whole time. Physically speaking, Cam is in many ways what Kaep always should have been. If anything, I would argue Kaep got off to a better start in his career. Little did we know at the time that he was nothing more than a single-read-scamperfoot. QB progression in the NFL is a dynamic, not a static notion; guys don’t always make the leap.
  • Los Angeles Rams: If you guys get RGIII next year (you should try) then model your offense loosely on what you’re seeing in Carolina’s west coast-spread hybrid attack (obviously take out the power runs, just a safety tip). Your defensive front 7 is absolutely on par with the Panther’s, and it’s younger. Problem is, if you don’t find any non-Gurley ways to move the ball, you’ll just turn into Minnesota, and nobody’s gonna want that in L.A.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Grrr there goes that darn Newton again! Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, very much like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning a decade ago, could not be more different, yet they will see a lot of each other the next 8-10 years. You guys were not far at all from being where Carolina is now, I’ll see you in September at the Clink.
  • Arizona Cardinals: I hope you guys have recovered from that beatdown Carolina gave you…It’s ok they do that to everyone. Unfortunately, I think 2015 was your shot. Palmer isn’t doing that again at this age but hey…it could happen…I guess…but probably not.


Andy Cuello

Andy Cuello, a native of quaint and industrious Larchmont New York, enjoys watching sports, and ordering fried food on Seamless. As a lifelong/tortured Dolphins/Mets/Nets fan, on quiet Murray Hill nights if you listen closely enough, you can hear him ranting about how QBs should not be measured by wins, how Baseball needs a salary cap, and how Tony Romo is a top 10 quarterback of all time. He also enjoys hoppy IPAs, small puppies, and watching his alma mater Boston College foolishly refuse to join the 21st century and eschew academic requirements for football players. Follow him on Twitter @AndySee11



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