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NFL Divisional Round: MAC-Based Rooting Interests

The Green Bay Packers are your team, if your heart belongs to the Mid-American Conference. Also: whoa, when did James Starks become a feature back?
The Green Bay Packers are your team, if your heart belongs to the Mid-American Conference. Also: whoa, when did James Starks become a feature back?

Perhaps during halftimes of all the basketball games this weekend, you might've peeked in to see how the NFL playoffs were faring. And then you promptly switched right back to the overtime madness. That's what I like about you. Commitment.

And that's why, with no basketball games tonight (I do hear yet ANOTHER BOWL GAME is on tonight. Ugh, when will they end?), it's a good time to pause and look at the eight remaining pro football teams and try to develop a rooting interest in one. Whether your favorite team is already eliminated, or if said team was just in a fantasy league, here's what you gotta do if you're a MAC fan: root for Green Bay. It sounds absurd, but they're loaded with the right kind of players.

Out of the AFC, you'll have to be a fan o' Pittsburgh. It may go against every belief in your body, but odds are one of your favorite athletes from college yesteryear is already donning black and yellow. So this may not be a new ritual for you. After the jump, we list every MAC alumnus on a playoff roster.

RB James Starks (Buffalo)
WR Greg Jennings (WMU)
TE Tom Crabtree (Miami)
G T.J. Lang (EMU)
DE Cullen Jenkins (CMU)
LB Diyral Briggs (BGSU)
LB Frank Zombo (CMU)
CB Josh Gordy (CMU)
RB Michael Turner (NIU)

A cheer for Green Bay is a cheer for MAC football. With eight players on their 53-man roster, they're basically 15 percent of the team, which is definitely more than their fair share. As for Atlanta, well, they only have the one, but Turner is, howdoyousay, gifted. Still ... one isn't enough. Root for the Packers.

RB Chester Taylor (Toledo)
RB Garrett Wolfe (NIU)
P Brad Maynard (Ball State)
TE Jameson Konz (Kent State) [Injured Reserve]

Kind of a lame-o game, especially since the Bears are, and should always be known for, ditching Dan LeFevour and Freddie Barnes in lieu of Todd freaking Collins and some shlub at wideout. Two running backs will do, and you can't go wrong with a punter. And I applaud Seattle for selecing Konz, Kent State's H-Back, with their seventh round pick, but when one goes down, you replace him with another viable free agent that plays in the hustle belt. It's just what you do. Sorry if you enjoy madness in your NFL, but this 8-9 team's dream has to stop right now, because it's a flawed dream. Bears all the way in this one.

WR Julian Edelman (Kent State)
WR Taylor Price (OHIO)
DT Landon Cohen (OHIO)
OT Nick Kaczur (Toledo) [Injured Reserve]
DB Thad Turner (OHIO) [Practice Squad]
LB Jason Taylor (Akron)

Yeah, I know it's a little uncouth to be a fair-weathered Patriots fan. But look at all that MAC power. A couple of wideouts on one side, and a crushing tackle on the other. Pity that two others are inactive, but injuries/not-being-good-enough is part of the game. If the Jets think that having Jason Taylor is going to be adequate for an upset in Foxborough, they're sorely mistaken. P-A-T-S, Pats Pats Pats. (That's their saying, right?)

RB/KR Jalen Parmele (Toledo)
G/T Andre Ramsey (Ball State) (Practice Squad)
QB Charlie Batch (EMU)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (Miami)
QB Byron Leftwich (Marshall)
WR/KR Antonio Brown (CMU)
LB James Harrison (Kent State)
K Shaun Suisham (BGSU)

Sorry, no. Kind regards to the Ravens for taking a flier on Parm 'n Hammer and seeing him transform into a nice kick returner, but when Pittsburgh has THREE MAC QUARTERBACKS, there is no further discussion required. Having Brown return kicks and developing Harrison into a feared veteran linebacker only sweetens the spoils. Signing Suisham midseason and replacing him with Jeff Reed was simply masterful.

In short, if you needed a reason to latch onto the Steelers-Bears-Patriots-Packers superfecta without looking like a douchebag sports fan ... there's your reasoning. You're in it for the MAC alum.