11. Cincinnati Bengals: Most recent playoff win was in 1990. Why start now?
12. Minnesota Vikings: Last because, Peterson or not, I give ‘em the least chance to win this week.
OK, now let's rank the 12 teams not by Super Bowl chances but by Independent Rooting Interest (IRI), which I just made up. Who should you be hoping wins it all if you aren't a fan of any team in particular?
Answer: Which fans are most starving for a Super Bowl?
I added each franchise's number of seasons since its last Super Bowl win and last SB appearance. The combined number of years is our IRI index, and the higher the number, the greater the historic underdog. Here we go:
1. Vikings (88): No SB wins in 52 franchise years; last appearance 1976.
2. Bengals (69): No SB wins in 45 franchise years; last appearance 1988.
3. Falcons (61): No SB wins in 47 franchise years; last appearance 1998.
4. Seahawks (44): No SB wins in 37 franchise years; last appearance 2005.
5. Redskins (42): Last SB win and appearance, 1991.
6. 49ers (36): Last SB win and appearance, 1994.
7. Broncos (28): Last SB win and appearance, 1998.
8. Ravens (24): Last SB win and appearance, 2000.
9. Texans (22): No SB wins or appearances in 11 franchise years.
10. Patriots (9): Last SB win, 2004; last appearance, 2011.
11. Colts (9): Last SB win, 2006; last appearance, 2009.
12. Packers (4): Last SB win and appearance, 2010.
To summarize, put your money on the Broncos if you want to saddle up the Super Bowl favorite. But put on your purple for the Vikings if you'd like to adopt a somewhat more sentimental rooting interest.
By the way, the Dolphins would have an IRI index of 67 years — last SB win, 1973; last appearance, 1984 — and would have trailed only the Vikes and Bengals on our misery/waiting list. Had they made the playoffs, of course.
I'm sorry if the preceding paragraph made any Dolfans even sadder than they already naturally are this time of year.
Our King Sport 2012 season awards, briefly:
MVP — Peyton Manning, Broncos QB: A late charge by Vikes RB Adrian Peterson, but Manning's comeback year has Denver poised as Super Bowl front-runner.
Offensive Player of Year — Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB: Coming within 9 yards of the 28-year-old league rushing record is good enough for me.
Defensive Player of Year — J.J. Watt, Texans DE: This category is a virtual tie, though, with the Broncos' Von Miller.
Offensive rookie — Robert Griffin III, Redskins QB: I think the Colts' Andrew Luck will win, but I look at RG3's numbers and can't deny them. Or him.
Defensive rookie — Luke Kuechly, Panthers LB: A wide-open race, but Kuechly was the tackling machine he was advertised to be.
Coach of Year — Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, Colts: No sympathy vote. Pagano's fight with leukemia and Arians taking over shaped Indy's remarkable year.
Dolphins MVP — Ryan Tannehill, QB: Team's lone Pro Bowl pick, defensive end Cam Wake, would be a safe choice, but Tannehill's progress was the story of Miami's year.
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