We’ve told you how to get away with any selection you desire with a heritage pick.
We’ve told you the teams to avoid either due to their health, of yours.
Now, finally, we have the teams that represent great selections as the programme to brand into your heart (and in some cases we’ve heard of, butt cheeks):
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- Green Bay Packers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Indianapolis Colts
- Houston Texans
This list represents teams that up until recently might have been featured in part two’s ‘Buyer Beware’ piece – strong programmes who have perhaps fallen on hard times, or whose stars have lost some of their shine.
When the Packers smashed their way to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, Cheeseheads began popping up faster than whack-a-moles. It looked like the start of a dynasty when they went 15-1 the following season, only to plop outta playoffs in their first postseason game. Since then they’ve remained a strong team, but perhaps thanks to A-Rod and Clay Matthews III’s commercials, a fairly likeable one. Grab them while they ‘good’ not great, and be ready for when they make another deep playoff run.
Through the noughties the Pittsburgh Steelers were second only to the Patriots in the smug rankings, and the number of eyes that would roll when someone walked into the room wearing their jersey. However, recent seasons have seen them struggle to live up to expectations and they’ve had one playoff win in the past five seasons, which has allowed opinions on them to mellow. One of the most successful and consistent franchises in the league’s history, pick em up before they snag a seventh Super Bowl.
The Ravens are often considered the more palatable version of the Steelers. The rivalry between these two programmes has been one for the ages, and in the hotly contested AFC North it’s a fairly good shout that whoever emerges into playoffs has a shot at the Super Bowl. They haven’t re-found their mojo since their 2012 Super Bowl win and their 20th Anniversary season looks to be off to a poor start, but the Ravens won’t be down long, and it’s a great way to getting away with wearing purple.
Since the departure of Manning and the arrival of Andrew Luck, according to the pundits the Colts have been destined for great things. However, season after season they continue to fall short. Luck isn’t a young, inexperienced player any more, but nor is he the reason Indy have struggled. Even so, expectations have lowered, so now you can raise a blue banner without looking like you’re jumping on the Luck Bandwagon.
And finally the Texans. Few programmes are more centralised around a single star than the Texans. JJ Watt is like a demi-god, both on the football field and off it, and his likeability and outstanding performances come game-time have resulted in huge popularity for a franchise that only has two playoff wins in its history. Well, Watt’s done for the season, which hasn’t stopped the Texans getting off to a 4-2 start, and means you can snag one of their sexy red white and blues without looking like a Watt fan boy!
Grab ’em while they’re hot!
- Minnesota Vikings
- Buffalo Bills
- Oakland Riaders
- Tenneessee Titans
- Atlanta Falcons
Where the fudge did that come from? The Vikings are the hottest team in the league right now (impressive when they’re based in the frozen north) and this is despite losing their starting QB in the preseason and their future first-ballot Hall of Fame Running Back in Week Two. Get in early before everyone else starts hopping in the Longboat.
Owners of the longest playoff drought in the NFL, you’ve gotta feel for Buffalo fans. They haven’t seen the postseason so far this millennium, and a postseason win in over 20 years. That said, you’ve gotta believe it’s only a matter of time, and they’re currently sat on a four-win win-streak with their offence firing on all cylinders! Their ground game, between Shady McCoy and Tyrod Taylor, is beasty, and only going to get more relevant as the winter weather sets in.
Far too many years of rebuilding for the Raider Nation, but Derek Carr finally appears to be the hero Gotham needed. They’re really beginning to click on offence over the past two years, even if it’s not been reflected in the Win-Loss ratio. At least so far this year however they seem to be putting more of the pieces together – able to win the shootouts they were falling short of last year. They still need a serious upgrade on their D, but you can wear silver and black with pride once again – alongside all the other 1980s and Gruden-era Raiders fans who are starting to come out of the woodwork again.
Tennessee, with DeMarco Murray? It could be the second coming of CJ2k. They’re a long way off being Super Bowl bound, but they’ve already matched last year’s win total and have a lot of young players on the roster with potential to develop, including QB Marcus Mariota who should start seeing the game slow down for him in the next couple of seasons and cut down on the turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are one of the conundrums of the current NFL. What’s the difference between the team that went 13-3 in 2012, but hasn’t peeped above .500 on the season since? Who knows? Certainly all the pieces are in place there offensively, and it does feel like after a shaky start to the year the Falcons have come out flying high on offence. They found the formula to beat Denver, and last week’s loss against the Seahawks? C’mon. It’s the Seahawks. Matty Ice is looking cool again. Get on board!
- Cincinnatti Bengals
- Kansas City Chiefs
- San Diego Chargers
- Arizona Cardinals
In the wrong year people might have cringed at any of the selections above, but the reality is they’re simply too inconsistent from season to season.
The Bengals can’t figure out how to win in January, one and done in the playoffs for the past five years.
The Chiefs under Andy Reid are a good team, but they need just that extra spark from a true playmaker to push them into contention.
San Diego used to be Mr Consistent in the AFC West, but something’s clearly missing in recent years. They’ve not gone above 9-7 since 2009, and last year was a blow out. It doesn’t help that the rest of their conference has suddenly found form. It might have been tempting to pop the Chargers in the ‘Buyer Beware’ section, but they’ve still got some good weapons available to them to turn things around over the next few seasons to make taking the Chargers now seem like a wise choice.
Cardinals have gotten hot the past few years with Carson Palmer under centre and a standout defence. However, they win quietly, never come across as smug, and this humble nature makes them a great pick up. Add to this that things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the Cardinals – currently sat at 3-3 after finishing last season 13-3 – and you’ve got a real bargain selection of an NFL team!
Take A Freebie
- Los Angeles Rams
The former Cleveland Rams who became the Los Angeles Rams who became the St. Louis Rams are now, once again, the Los Angeles Rams. That move means you can start supporting them free of charge as they’re starting fresh. Nobody will question your motives, but they might question your choice. If you’re looking to start a new page in life, start with the Rams.
The Savvy Investment
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Sure, they’re not great now… but it’s looking more and more like we’ll have a team to call our own and it’d probably be the Jaguars. Their recent Wembley fixture felt like the first genuine home game for a visiting team and if you jump on board with the Jags now you can tell everybody sat around you that you supported them before it was cool. You can be one of a select portion of the #BritballNation that sees a full 8-game regular season with their programme of choice.
And hells, one day they might even make it back t the postseason! Roar the with
London Jaguars Jacksonville Jag-Wars!
So, we’ve covered every pick and given you just about enough rope to hang yourself. Remember, parity is king in the NFL (erm, unless you pick the Browns) so beware of massive swings in your team’s fortunes over the coming years. Sure, you might make the conference championship one season, but you could be picking in the top three of the draft at the end of the next!
Stay loyal, don’t jump onto any bandwagons, no matter how tempting it may seem.
We’ll find out if you do…