So you are sitting at home, sadly putting away your team swag for the season. This year just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe you are a Commanders/Patriots/Broncos/Panthers/Cardinals/Bears/Falcons/Saints/Raiders/Colts/Titans fan, and you kinda knew from the beginning this wasn’t likely to be your year. Maybe you are a Giants/Chargers/Jaguars/Seahawks/Vikings/Bengals fan, and you feel foolish for allowing yourself to hope before the reality of your team struck you down. Maybe you are a Jets fan, and god hates you.

Whatever the case may be, here you sit, on your couch, with no team to root for. All you can do now is support other teams you don’t hate that much. Or…you can root for nothing. Embrace the void. May all the teams who out-achieved your own suffer in the hellfire of chaos. All you want is entertainment. All you want is bullshit. All you want is to see fans of the teams involved suffer mental breakdowns because they cannot handle what is happening. If that sounds like you, we can be friends, and I have a guide just for you.

Playoff chaos hits differently. The stakes are higher, and a bad day now translates to your season-ending. The opponent is a skilled foe, on or at least close to your level, and you cannot give an inch. There are no ties. No one is coming to save you. The refs let everyone play a little harder. Worst of all, your team faces a foe it cannot defeat through brute strength alone: narratives. Stats don’t matter here. Careers are made and fade in January. With everyone on the court, let’s see who has the biggest chance to give us the most enjoyable experience.


Pressure: Low
Potential Chaos: High
The Packers return to the playoffs with a new look. They may have switched from iPhone to Android, but the Pack is Back. Since they are just happy to be here the pressure is completely off. The Packers spent most of the season as a high-variance team. Jordan Love could look like a pro bowler one week and a Jets QB the next. The defense is extremely poorly coached and the obvious Achilles heel. The only way for the Packers to do anything is for good Love to show up. But if he does, we could be in for a ride. Playing with house money means the only thing you can do is completely ruin everyone else’s day.
-Narrative they must overcome: While that obnoxious tool Rodgers is gone, does anyone want to see the Packers succeed some more? Do we really want to see them go from one hall of famer to another, again? I sure don’t. I liked the playoffs better when the Packers weren’t in them. That said, I’m 100% rooting for them to beat the Cowboys.

Pressure: Low
Potential Chaos: Medium
The Rams are arguably the most forgettable playoff contender. They spent most of the first half of this year being generally mid. They didn’t stand out, outside Puka Nacua. But in the second half of the season the team seemed to find itself. Stafford looks like Matthew Stafford again after last year made us all leave him for dead. The team is the definition of under-the-radar, and that disrespect could be exactly what they need as fuel to rise up the ranks and force us to take notice.
-Narrative they must overcome: Same ol’ Sorry Ass Rams? The Rams have two wins against Kyle Shanahan, one was in week 18 this year when nothing mattered, and one was two years ago in the playoffs when it did. But despite that, the 49ers continue to own Sean McVay, and if the situation rises again, can they overcome? Can McVay flip the script and make Shanahan his bitch instead?

Pressure: Very High
Potential Chaos: High
The Eagles enter the playoffs like a marathon runner who has shit his pants and is crawling across the finish line to beat the cutoff time by minutes. They have a respectable record but spent the last month of the season being anything but respectable. A collapse for the ages is one game away from sending Philly fans back to eating shit in anger instead of celebration. If this team goes on a playoffs win streak, it’ll be a massive turnaround nobody is expecting, and drive everyone nuts.
-Narrative they must overcome: Is this team a fraud? Do they even deserve to be here? Is Nick Sirianni’s job on the line? A win probably saves the staff for one extra year. Right now if you asked Eagles fans many of them want the team to get obliterated by the Bucs so that they can clean house. Personally I think Sirianni is doing a great job.

Pressure: Medium
Potential Chaos: High
The Bucs enter the playoffs almost by default after winning the most pathetic division in the sport. Thankfully that means the pressure isn’t too harsh. However they’ve also drawn the Eagles in week 1, a team in complete disarray, and now they have to deal with the fact that many of us think they should win. What if they don’t? But Baker Mayfield has the superpower of spite. Cross him, insult him, insinuate he’s poop, and then he gets mad and actually plays good football. If only the Bucs could somehow control that.
-Narrative they must overcome: Is this team garbage now without Tom Brady? Baker Mayfield was hardly a stud this season. He had his moments but he also had some real duds. Todd Bowles is not an inspiring head coach. What happens for the future now if they immediately lose against a team that is currently licking it’s own taint?

Pressure: High
Potential Chaos: Medium
The Lions and Browns in the same playoffs, what a time to be alive. The Lions finally achieved their dreams and won the battle to be taken seriously. But now the real battle starts: can you do literally anything in the playoffs? The defense is inconsistent. The officiating is bad. The opponent is hot. How much is this season worth if you just immediately lose? The Lions are under a lot of pressure but winning a playoff game immediately puts them into fun mode. If they win that first one, it’s gravy, and shit can get weird.
-Narrative they must overcome: The refs hate them. And now Stafford comes back to Detroit. Can Jared Goff overcome the very team that spurned him or will Stafford finally win a playoff game in Detroit? Will the refs allow it to happen?

Pressure: Very High
Potential Chaos: Medium
The Cowboys are a good team. I hate it too. Micah Parsons is a machine. Dak is playing like a top 5 QB. CeeDee Lamb is blowing people away. The Cowboys appear to be clicking on all cylinders.
-Narrative they must overcome: Can they reach the NFC Championship game? Can they not lose to the 49ers while peeing their pants on the last play again? I hope not. This is a good team and I would love nothing more to watch Jerry Jones freak out and burn it down out of rage after Fat Mike blows it for the 3rd year in a row.

Pressure: High
Potential Chaos: Very Low
The 49ers are good. When fully healthy, they seemingly cannot be stopped. Easy favorites for the conference. If they win, that wouldn’t be very chaotic. If someone gets hurt however…we could get interesting.
-Narrative they must overcome: Is Brock Purdy good? He had MVP chatter until the Ravens game. But he looked bad when Trent Williams was out and if Purdy panics things get ugly. Purdy has proven himself a viable QB but last year’s injury and this year’s stacked team remains a wall around him, shielding him from criticism and also imprisoning him from truly proving the doubters wrong.


Pressure: Very Low
Potential Chaos: Very High
The Steelers defense is good enough to disrupt anyone but the loss of TJ Watt is immense. With the major injury and lack of QB the Steelers are not being taken seriously by anyone. That’s exactly why it’ll be hilarious if the Steelers win playoff games. Mason Rudolph, playoffs hero? Mike Tomlin, who has spent much of the past half-decade barely skimming the surface above a losing season, needs to actually start making progress again soon.
-Narrative they must overcome: Who the hell is the actual QB of the future here? Kenny Pickett isn’t working out. Mitch Trubisky sucked balls. Mason Rudolph is still terrible. What is this team’s identity on offense?

Pressure: High
Potential Chaos: High
The Dolphins are the other fraud of the playoffs. They beat exactly one team with a winning record all year, and that was at home, a luxury they no longer have unless they somehow play the Steelers in the AFCCG. That, by the way, would be INCREDIBLE chaos. But the warm weather Dolphins are now going into Kansas City on a frigid day to play the Chiefs. The deck is utterly stacked against them. A win and things get blown wide open.
-Narrative they must overcome: Can they beat a winning team? Are the Dolphins a team that can take a shot to the jaw and get back up? They haven’t been all year.

Pressure: Low
Potential Chaos: Very High
The Browns got over their playoff hump a few years ago but it’s still weird to see them here. They started 5 QBs this year. They lost Nick Chubb. It’s bizarre to even see this team doing this. Joe Flacco is old but he fits the Stefanski system perfectly and he’s playing like it. When you have the god of playoff chaos on your side, what do you have to lose? Also Myles Garrett eats people.
-Narrative they must overcome: Can you get people to root for you when you willingly overpaid a predator? Can they win it all in the one season they have before the horrible contract comes home to roost and destroys the roster?

Pressure: Very Low
Potential Chaos: High
CJ Stroud led the Texans to a playoff berth. Incredible, monumental turnaround. There may not be a single team in the playoffs with less pressure on them. Simply getting here was a win for all involved. Anything this team does is chaos gravy.
-Narrative they must overcome: Is this just luck that they squeaked in after Jacksonville imploded? Is this season a sign of things to come or a fluke before anyone gets film on them?

Pressure: Very High
Potential Chaos: Low
The Chiefs are disappointments this season. The defense has taken a step forward but it’s been tough to notice in the exceptional disappointment of the offense. They won’t run the ball (Andy hates running the ball), nobody outside Travis Kelce can catch or get open and Kelce finally looks a bit slow. We used to talk about how Mahomes could do it all, but he can’t make his receivers actually hold on or run the right routes. Or not line up offsides, apparently. It’s fun seeing the Chiefs face real adversity for the first time in a while.
-Narrative they must overcome: Is Taylor Swift a distraction? Yes, it’s stupid, but you know that shit is going to be the topic du jour whether we like it or not.

Pressure: Medium
Potential Chaos: High
The Bills, despite being the #2 seed, are arguably the most chaotic team entering the playoffs. They have some expectations again after coming together but Josh Allen is our YOLO king. A Leroy Jenkins with a cannon arm. This team is stupid and fun in the best way possible. Great teams are often very low chaos. Teams that have it figured out have expectations and rhythm. The Bills are no such team. The Bills are the Maverick to the Ravens Iceman. The Bills are the loose-cannon cop on the edge who gets things done despite being an alcoholic. The Bills are the Team Fortress 2 players who always play as the heavy exclusively with punching gloves. The Bills are your one country friend from childhood who is missing teeth because he got sick air oh his ATV in the walmart parking lot.
Narrative they must overcome: Can they shut up and act like an adult for 10 goddamn minutes

Pressure: High
Potential Chaos: Very Low
The Ravens are probably the most complete team in the league. There isn’t much else to say. For a lot of the top teams, a mark against them is that the most chaotic thing they can do is lose. The Ravens losing would easily be the biggest surprise at this stage.
Narrative they must overcome: Can Lamar win in the playoffs? It’s a stupid narrative. I hate this narrative. Lamar has spent his entire career overcoming bullshit narratives. He’s not worth a top 10 pick. He’s not a QB he’s a runningback. Blah Blah Blah. Now we are here, facing the world’s dumbest gatekeeping argument, the last line of defense for the hater.

Personally, btw, while I always root for chaos and entertainment, this is my order of preference:
-Getting punched in the solar plexus
-Getting hit by a bus
-Getting hit by a bullet train
-Having a piece of a Boeing Max 9 fall out of the sky onto me
-getting disintegrated by Martians
-getting nuked
-getting nuked but im not killed in the initial blast and rot from radiation sickness