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New to the NFL? The42's guide to picking a team this season

New to the sport and looking for a team to support

Who'll be your NFL team?
Who'll be your NFL team?
Image: Patric Schneider

IS THIS THE year you’re finally going to start watching American football, specifically the NFL?

Great, delighted to have you on board.

But you’re going to need a team, everybody needs a team.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this handy guide to which team you should support based on a number of factors and, hopefully, by the end you’ll have a new favourite team.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

How good or bad are they? They were really good for four years in the 90s, not so much these days but they’ve a new head coach this year — Rex Ryan — and some fans are excited about them again.

Are they too good though? No, there’s no fear of that.

Famous for? Getting to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 90s but losing each and every one of them.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 33/1

New York Jets

How good or bad are they? They’re not as good or as bad as the New York media paints them to be depending on what mood they’re in.

Are they too bad though? Well their starting quarterback will miss the start of the season after having his jaw brokne by a team-mate for not handing over $600 he owed in air fares. Does that strike you as the type of team you can get behind?

Famous for? Being one of two New York monikered teams not to actually play in New York.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 66/1

New England Patriots

How good or bad are they? About as good as they come having won four Super Bowls in 14 years under the head coach/quarterback combo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Are they too good though? Maybe, you’re not going to have Brady around for much longer though and things are going to be pretty tough in Boston once that kid retires.

Famous for? Winning Super Bowls, cheating (deflategate, spying on other teams) and beating the Oakland Raiders with the made-up Tuck Rule.

Source: czabedotcom/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 8/1

Miami Dolphins

How good or bad are they? Almost certainly a team on the up, they’re definitely the biggest challengers to the Patriots for the AFC East title this year.

Are they too good though? No. Dan Marino — one of the best QBs to ever play the game — was with them for 17 years and he couldn’t win a Super Bowl so there’s not much hope for Ryan Tannehill.

Famous for? Being the focal point for the first Ace Ventura movie.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 30/1

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

How good or bad are they? They’ve won the Super Bowl as recently as 2012 and have made the playoffs 10 times in 15 years.

Are they too good though? Maybe a little if you don’t like glory-hunting because there are many tipping them to go close again this year.

Famous for? A good team to get behind if you were a fan of The Wire.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 20/1

Pittsburgh Steelers

How good or bad are they? Twice winners of the Super Bowl in the last ten years, they are another team that always seem to be there or there abouts come the business end of the season.

Are they too good though? They’ll likely make the playoffs this year but there’s not a huge number of people tipping them to win the Super Bowl so it’s a good season to get behind them.

Famous for? A lot of Irish people support them because their owner — Dan Rooney — is a former US Ambassador to Ireland.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 25/1

Cleveland Browns

How good or bad are they? Not very good at all, at all.

Are they too bad though? No sports team from Cleveland has ever won a major sporting title, the Browns are just the epitome of sadness and heartbreak.

Famous for? Being the only team in the National Football League without a logo on their helmet.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 66/1

Cincinnati Bengals

How good or bad are they? Really, really good at getting to the playoffs but terrible once they get there despite having one of the best defences (on paper at least) in football.

Are they too good though? They’ll certainly give you a good run for your money but you’ll only have a passing interest in what’s going on in the NFL once January comes.

Famous for? Andy Dalton is one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history — the other being YA Tittle — to lose their first four playoff games.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 33/1

AFC South

Tennessee Titans

How good or bad are they? They had the second overall pick in this year’s draft as the second worst team in the NFL last year.

Are they too bad though? Most people suspect they’ll have the first overall pick in next year’s draft so it’s pretty bad.

Famous for? Coming up one-yard short of winning Super Bowl XXXIV and the Music City Miracle

Source: Graham Smeaton/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 150/1

Jacksonville Jaguars

How good or bad are they? They once spelled their own name wrong. Never forget the short lived Jacksonville Jaguras.

Are they too bad though? Somebody has to come last in this division but luckily for the Jags the Titans are there too.

Famous for? Being the defacto London franchise by signing up to play one home game a years for four seasons there between 2013 and 2016.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 100/1

Indianapolis Colts

How good or bad are they? Potentially very, very good.

Are they too good though? 2015 appears like it could be a breakthrough year for Andrew Luck the Colts quarterback so you might be getting on the bandwagon at just the right time.

Famous for? They used to be the Baltimore Colts but upped sticks to Indy in the early 80s which made their marching band redundant. On the plus side, we got a great 30 for 30 documentary out of it.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 9/1

Houston Texans

How good or bad are they? Brilliant on defence, but they can’t seem to put it together on the attacking side of the ball.

Are they too good though? Brian Hoyer — whose head the default Twitter avatar is modelled on — has been named their starting quarterback. So no.

Famous for? Currently starring in our favourite series of NFL behind-the-scenes show Hard Knocks to date.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 40/1

AFC West

Denver Broncos

How good or bad are they? The Broncos are going for a fifth division title in a row this season.

Are they too good though? We’re nearing the end of the Peyton Manning era in Denver and it’s expected to be a long, slow recovery once he hangs up his throwing arm.

Famous for? Being the team Hank Scorpio gave Homer way back when the Simpsons were good (and Denver were bad).

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 11/1

San Diego Chargers

How good or bad are they? The soon to be LA Chargers are always near the top echelon but it’s a long time since they could be considered contenders.

Are they too bad though? Not at all, in fact, with a weakening Denver, they could challenge for divisional honours this season.

Famous for? Being the home of Anchorman. Their name, of course, translates as A Whale’s Vagina Chargers.

Source: Gráinne McDermott/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 25/1

Oakland Raiders

How good or bad are they? They’ve only reached the playoffs three times since 1994.

Are they too bad though? They’re not as awful this year as they have been of late and the addition of some exciting young talent means they could be contenders in another few years.

Famous for? Fans who dress like they’re going to a Halloween disco.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 150/1

Kansas City Chiefs

How good or bad are they? Another team that’s brilliant on defence but who failed to throw one touchdown pass to a wide receiver last season.

Are they too good though? Another team heading in the right direction. If you like winning seasons but without the risk of winning it all, the Chiefs are the team for you.

Famous for? Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest and loudest places to go in the NFL.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 33/1

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

How good or bad are they? They reached the playoffs last year behind the best offensive line in the NFL.

Are they too good though? They’ve lost their stud running back in DeMarco Murray to a divisional rival and his replacements don’t look all that promising. They still have one of the best wide receivers — Dez Bryant — in the game.

Famous for? They’re known as America’s team despite the Denver Broncos actually being the most supported team in the States.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 20/1

Washington

How good or bad are they? A contender for one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL… which is really saying something.

Are they too bad though? If you’re looking for a new team to support, they could well be good in a decade but, right now, they stink.

Famous for? A racially insensitive nickname that almost everybody wants changed.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 100/1

Philadelphia Eagles

How good or bad are they? They’ve added DeMarco Murray to an already potent offence and are real contenders in the NFC this year.

Are they too good though? You wouldn’t get too much grief for becoming an Eagles fan this season because, while they’ll make the playoffs, they’re unlikely to win it all.

Famous for? Chip Kelly and his attempts at re-defining the way football is played in the NFL by bringing his up-tempo college offence into the league.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 18/1

New York Giants

How good or bad are they? They’ve won two Super Bowls under the current quarterback/head coach pairing so they know how to get the job done.

Are they too good though? They weren’t even too good the years they won Super Bowls but they’ve some interesting weapons on offence that they’ll rely on this year.

Famous for? ’The Catch’ that helped win Super Bowl XLII.

Source: Cosmo Panzetta/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 40/1

NFC North

Chicago Bears

How good or bad are they? There’s a hell of a lot more chance of the Cubs ending their baseball hoodoo this year than the Bears winning the Super Bowl.

Are they too bad though? As bad teams go, they’re not a million miles away from being good again so now might be a good time to get on the bandwagon.

Famous for? Older fans will remember William ‘The Fridge’ Perry from when RTÉ used to show NFL highlights.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 66/1

Minnesota Vikings

How good or bad are they? Many are tipping the Vikings to make a playoff run this year but they play in, arguably, the toughest division in football.

Are they too good though? Not at all but they are a decent team now with a chance to be very good over the next few seasons.

Famous for? Their inflatable stadium roof collapsing forcing them out of Minnesota:

Source: EarthCam/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 50/1

Green Bay Packers

How good or bad are they? Very, very good.

Are they too good though? Before wide receiver Jordy Nelson learned he was going to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, yes, but they’re still one of the favourites.

Famous for? The ‘Lambeau Leap’ which sees Packers’ players celebrate touchdowns by jumping into the crowd.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 6/1

Detroit Lions

How good or bad are they? An unknown quantity given they lost one of the NFL’s best defensive players this off-season.

Are they too good though? They could potentially win the division or could miss out on the playoffs altogether, it’s very difficult to tell at this stage.

Famous for? Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson, probably the best wide receiver in the league.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 33/1

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

How good or bad are they? The Falcons have blown hot and cold in recent years but should be a better team with former Seattle defensive co-ordinator Dan Quinn in charge.

Are they too good though? Another team that will be good this year but could be really good in a few years time.

Famous for? Nothing that stands out… Justin Beiber is a fan if that does’t put you off?

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 33/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How good or bad are they? The Bucs were the worst team in football last year but could still become contenders in the most open division in the league.

Are they too bad though? A team definitely coming out of a trough. They believe number one overall pick Jameis Winston at quarterback can be their saviour.

Famous for? Their home stadium which fires cannons from a pirate ship every time they score a touchdown.

Source: SUPERSLICEONE/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 66/1

New Orleans Saints

How good or bad are they? A relatively recent Super Bowl winner which is more than can be said for the other teams in this division.

Are they too good though? Not quite. They’ve an exceptional quarterback but they just don’t seem to be able to pull all the pieces together they need to make a Super Bowl run.

Famous for? Bountygate when members of the team and coaching staff were suspended for deliberately setting out to hurt opposition players.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 22/1

Carolina Panthers

How good or bad are they? The Panthers won this division last year.

Are they too good though? Well, they won the division but they lost more games (8) than they won (7). They also tied one. That’s not great.

Famous for? Their ridiculously handsome quarterback Cam Newton and their brilliantly monikered head coach Riverboat Ron Rivera.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 50/1

NFC West

St. Louis Rams

How good or bad are they? The Rams finished bottom of the division last year and there’s not much to indicate they’re a playoff threat this year.

Are they too bad though? One of these years the Rams will come good again, you could find worse teams to support.

Famous for? Kurt Warner coming from stacking shelves in a supermarket for $5.50 an hour to winning a Super Bowl five years later.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 50/1

Seattle Seahawks

How good or bad are they? They came within a stupid play call of winning the Super Bowl last season.

Are they too good though? Possibly. A number of their high-profile players a due pay-rises soon and they can’t keep them all so 2015 may be the last season for a few years they are challenging for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Famous for? Their ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary that’s considered the best in football.

Source: Baba Omowale/YouTube

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 9/2 (fav)

San Francisco 49ers

How good or bad are they? They looked really bad at times last year and yet still finished with eight wins and eight losses.

Are they too bad though? A new head coach should improve things and — if you’re tempted to take a trip to see your new team — it’s not a bad spot to visit.

Famous for? Lots and lots of brilliant players (Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young) and coaches (Bill Walsh) over the years.

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 50/1

Arizona Cardinals

How good or bad are they? The Cards qualified for the playoffs last year but were downed by having to play their 15th choice quarterback when they got there.

Are they too good though? They’re certainly not a sexy team to support, the Spurs — mid-table mediocrity — of the NFL.

Famous for? Being the last team in this preview?

Odds of winning the Super Bowl? 25/1

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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