Saturday, January 3, 2015

Deserve's Got Everything to Do With It: 2015 NFL Edition


"I don't deserve this... to die like this!" -- Gene Hackman as Little Bill
"Deserve's got nothin' to do with it!" -- Clint Eastwood as William Munny
-- Unforgiven

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So who deserves to win Super Bowl XLIX? Here, I rank the 2014-15 NFL Playoff teams, not in likelihood of winning, but, in my opinion, in ascending order of worthiness:

12. Dallas Cowboys. They're the Dallas Cowboys. They deserve to go 0-16 every year, on principle. Next.

11. New England Patriots. Despite what I think of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the rest, owner Bob Kraft has always been a class act. And I like Boston as a city. But the team? Still typical cheating New England sports team. Scum. Next.

10. Arizona Cardinals. Haven't won a title in 67 years, including their 27 seasons in the Phoenix area. But, you know what? If they win, it would probably make Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a bunch of other bigots happy, so to hell with them. Next.

9. Carolina Panthers. Haven't won a title in their 20-season history. Indeed, Charlotte has never won a World Championship in any sport -- the Carolina Hurricanes, 2006 Stanley Cup winners, play in Raleigh. The Panthers have been to 1 Super Bowl, and lost that to the Cheatriots. So there is some deserve here. And for Cam Newton to win a Super Bowl after literally breaking his back would be a great story. On the other hand, this team made the Playoffs with a losing record (7-8-1), and it plays in serious Tea Party country, so, forget it. Next.

8. Cincinnati Bengals. They have never won a title in 47 seasons. They haven't even been to the Super Bowl in 26 years. The city hasn't won a title in 24 years. But southern Ohio and northern Kentucky are too conservative for my tastes.

7. Denver Broncos. They will be incredibly motivated after last year's Super Bowl humiliation. Denver is a great city. The team hasn't won a title in 16 years. And maybe, just maybe, Peyton Manning's disaster last year was sufficient comeuppance for associating with that son of a bitch "Papa" John Schnatter. On the other hand, he still does. And the Broncos have horrible uniforms.

6. Indianapolis Colts. There's a lot to like about the organization. Andrew Luck looks ready to lead a solid Playoff run. But this franchise won a title just 8 years ago, and... Indiana? Come on.

5. Seattle Seahawks. A solid all-around team in a good city, and will be very motivated to become the first back-to-back champions in 10 years. But since they just won last year, I can't say they're the most deserving team. Also, their uniforms are even worse than the Broncos'.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers. I admire the Steelers as an organization. I like Pittsburgh as a city. And Troy Polamalu is one of the great men among NFL players. But it's hard to root for Ben Roethlisberger, and, besides, their last title was only 6 years ago.

3. Baltimore Ravens. As much as I liked Ray Rice (a Rutgers man) before he produced the reason he had to be cut, he had to be cut. But that's actually a mark in the Ravens' favor: They did the right thing. And I like Baltimore as a city, and Maryland as a State. But they won the title just 2 years ago, so it's too soon for another one.

2. Green Bay Packers. One of the best-run organizations in all of sports, with one of the best fan bases. But not only do they have more titles than any team in the League (13), but they last won a title only 4 years ago. I won't get upset if they win again, but 4 years is too soon.

1. Detroit Lions. This team hasn't won an NFL Championship since 1957. That's "Super Bowl -IX." Along with the Cardinals, the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles, they're one of 4 teams that was in existence before the Super Bowl whose last title was not a Super Bowl but an NFL Championship Game. They rebounded from their 0-16 season to have since made the Playoffs twice. That shows character. And, for reasons far beyond football, the people of Detroit have suffered enough. It's time.

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