The Irish aren’t short of sports to cheer on. Gaelic football, Rugby, Soccer, and Hurling have been popular for generations, and they will continue to be exactly that.
However, in recent years, a newer obsession has made its way to the Emerald Isle.
No, Conor McGregor, we’re not talking to you. Although you have made MMA more popular than ever despite your recent decline. No, we are of course referring to American Football.
If you weren’t aware, the NFL returns to our screens on September 10th as the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs raise the curtain against an underdog Detroit Lions side that isn’t afraid of upsetting the apple cart. Patrick Mahomes’ side secured a second Lombardi in five seasons last term when they came from behind to pip the Philadelphia Eagles to the trophy at Super Bowl LVII inside Phoenix’s State Farm Stadium. They are the favourites for glory once again next term however, they will have plenty of competitors vying for their crown.
Their main threat also plies its trade in the AFC conference. Ever since making quarterback Joe Burrow the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals have been gunning for a maiden Lombardi, and the 2023 season will be no different. They have reached the AFC Championship game in each of the last two seasons, trading wins with the aforementioned Chiefs, with the Ohio-based side winning the first and the reigning champions winning the second earlier this year.
As a European NFL fan, you could do much worse than selecting the Bengals as your team for the upcoming campaign. However, if you are still undecided, here are three teams whose colours you should consider wearing every weekend between September and February.
Let’s face it, the Irish love supporting the favourites. Just take a look at soccer for example. You’re much more likely to find a supporter of Liverpool or Manchester United on the streets of Dublin than you are Shamrock Rovers. If that sounds like you, then the Kansas City Chiefs are the team for you.
Andy Reid’s men have reached at least the AFC Championship game in each of the last five seasons. They have converted three of those appearances into trips to the Super Bowl and twice converted said trip into a Lombardi Trophy triumph. If you are into fast-paced high-scoring games, the Missouri-based outfit might be your team of choice.
Led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs play an offensive style of football that’s hard to beat. Since The former Texas Tech standout took over, the team has gone from strength to strength and is approaching dynasty-like status. As we have mentioned, they are the favourites for glory once more this season, and it will take a herculean effort to stop them from becoming the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
If you are looking for a team with a storied history and a passionate fanbase, you might want to cheer for the Green Bay Packers. The Wisconsin side is one of the NFL’s oldest and most iconic franchises, and their devoted fanbase stretches across generations. Their playing style favors cold-weather games, where they use their running game and defense to their advantage.
This year, they will need all the help they can get. They missed out on the playoffs on the final day of last season following a humbling defeat on home turf at the hands of the rival Detroit Lions. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this season will be their first in 15 years without iconic quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been traded to the New York Jets.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a team with a comeback story, consider becoming a Buffalo Bills fan. The Highmark Stadium outfit has a large, enthusiastic fanbase, and while they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the early 90s, they’ve shown signs of improvement in recent years thanks to the drafting of talented quarterback Josh Allen.
The Bills play a hard-nosed style of football, which has led them to become a perennial playoff team. They remain the only team in NFL history to reach four consecutive Super Bowls however, they inexplicably lost all four and remain without a Lombardi Trophy in their baren looking trophy cabinet. If you love to root for the underdog, the Bills are the perfect fit.
As a European NFL fan, there are many great teams to support in the NFL. The New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New Orleans Saints, are just a few other suggestions should the ones we have highlighted not take your fancy. Each team we have mentioned however has its unique history, traditions, and fan culture, which make them exciting to support.