No sport more naturally goes with food than football. Just look at the extravagant tailgate parties outside of stadiums across the country each week. Look at the spreads set out at sports bars each week as the faithful storm in to watch their team on a multitude of big screen TV’s. Think about your own preparations each February as you sit down to enjoy the Super Bowl (game or commercials – nobody cares about the halftime show). It’s undeniable, Football & Food go hand in hand. So with that thought in mind, I thought I might combine the two like I did during the playoffs and give you my National Foodball League Prediction Blog (and yes I know I already missed the first game of the season).
THE AMERICAN FOODBALL CONFERENCE
New England Patriots – When I think of the patriots, I think of blue collar excellence. They are like a quality ingredient that lends itself well to simpler fare. They are a lot like a Lobster Roll – very good but slightly overrated in my mind.
New York Jets – The Jets have a coach that who’s prodigious mouth is matched only by his stomach. He talks a big game and for the most part his teams over the last 2 years have delivered. Losing twice in the Conference Championship game has to hurt and what helps a hurt more than Chicken Noodle Soup ? Only since we are in New York, let’s call for Matzoh Ball Soup instead.
Miami Dolphins – Despite the fact that Miami has the flashiness of South Beach (and the trashiness of the Kardashians), the Dolphins are a less than exciting team this year. They won’t be great and they won’t be terrible. What they serve up will be a fairly simple & straightforward – kind of like a Cuban Sandwich – pork, ham, cheese & a pickle. It delivers but it doesn’t excite.
Buffalo Bills – There hasn’t been anything spicy in Buffalo since the Juice ran behind the Electric Company so Buffalo Wings are simply out of the question when trying to find a food that fits this soon to be last place team. They may have a Harvard Grad at quarterback but even he isn’t going to be able to figure out how to win many games this year. As for a food, well when I think of Buffalo, I think of Beef on a Wecks. Pretty sad when your city is known mainly for a roll.
Baltimore Ravens – This is a team that has always been known for it’s crabby defense. Led by Ray Lewis they have always been a very hard hitting bunch and now, led by Joe Flacco & Ray Rice, they seem to have the offense to match. This could be a team to contend with come Playoff time so break out those hammers because when I think of the ravens, I think of a Crab Boil.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups didn’t do a lot in the offseason to improve themselves and despite that fact, I am sure they will continue to contend in the AFC. Last year’s playoffs also introduced me to the Steeltown tradition of Ham Barbecue Sandwiches. Finally something good to come out of Pittsburgh other than Flashdance.
Cleveland Browns – Sorry Brownie fans but whenever I think of the Browns, I think of John Elway and THE DRIVE. I also think of the Dawg Pound. Which makes me think of Dog Food and then I think of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack telling the waiter to tell the chef that he was serving high grade dog food. There isn’t a lot for Browns fans to be happy about this year other than they aren’t Bengals fans.
Cincinnati Bengals – Their quarterback, Carson Palmer, quit on the team this offseason and now his rookie replacement doesn’t even have Chad Ochocinco to throw to anymore. They say that Cincinnati is famous for it’s chili but I doubt I will ever try it much like I doubt I will watch the Bengals this year.
Houston Texans – Every year at the beginning of the season, the football media crowns the Texans as their Cinderella team for the playoffs and every year the Texans turn into a pumpkin. Now a year ago I had an amazing Pumpkin based Mole at a Mexican restaurant in Salt Lake City and since Houston is home to a great many Mexican favorites of mine (like Ninfa’s) I may have to say that the Texans remind me a little of that pumpkin mole.
Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are going to be in big trouble this year if Peyton Manning’s neck keeps him sidelined for too long. I’ve been writing playoff foodball blogs for 2 seasons now and I still can’t think of anything to represent Indiana beyond Sugar Cream Pie and I have never even tried it. I can imagine that you can only stomach a small slice at a time much like Colts fan may be able to only stomach a small slice of this football season at a time.
Tennessee Titans – The Titans are probably going to be somewhat of a mess this year. They have a new coach, a new old quarterback and star running back who held out all preseason and will probably be more susceptible to nagging injuries. Now most people think of music when they think of Nashville but not me. I think of Arnold’s Country Kitchen and their serious Meat & Three. So good it will make you forget the Titans lost again.
Jacksonville Jaguars – It’s going to be ugly in Jacksonville this year. The coach canned the longtime starting quarterback days before the season and one of the players wants to publicly punch him in the face. As for Jacksonville inspired foods, I have been there but wouldn’t know what it was famous for since we always ate at fairly generic style restaurants so I went to Yahoo Answers and they said Jacksonville was famous for Slaw Dogs. Well at least Jags fans have that going for them.
Denver Broncos – Who am I kidding ? I am a die hard bleed orange & blue Broncos fan who foolishly believes my team will go undefeated every year when I know that this year’s team has as much chance of them winning as you would have getting me to put on a silver & black raiders jersey while gorging on Rocky Mountain Oysters. At least John Elway is back, too bad he isn’t still playing quarterback.
San Diego Chargers – Like Fish Tacos, the Chargers always sound great but then there is usually something missing that doesn’t pull the team or the meal together. It’s either an injury to a key player or use of an inferior cut of fish (I’m sorry but tilapia does not belong in a Fish Taco). This year however, I think the chargers may have the ingredients to go all the way to the Super Bowl which reminds me, my wife is at the store so I should get her to pick up some Mahi Mahi for some fish tacos this weekend.
Kansas City Chiefs – As a Broncos fan, I can honestly say that there is nothing I like about Kansas City though I will admit that the BBQ isn’t half bad. In fact back in 1980 when I interned on Wall Street I used to eat lunch a couple of times a week at the Kansas City Meat Exchange. It was good, cheap & consistent. Two out three of those qualities apply to the Chiefs too. They are good and cheap (by NFL standards) but they are inconsistent.
Oakland Raiders – There is no team in football that I hate more than the Raiders. Of course when I think of Oakland itself, I think of jack London Square and some of the great little seafood places all over the East Bay. I wish I could enjoy them more but they all lose a star in my eyes because they are all in the silver & black shadow of Al Davis.
THE NATIONAL FOODBALL CONFERENCE
Philadelphia Eagles – The Iggles fans think they have the best team in football and they think they have the best cheesesteaks. I beg to differ on both points. The best cheesesteaks can be found at Hoagie haven in Princeton, NJ (#17 – Pizza Cheesesteak) and the best football team can be found at the end of the blog.
Dallas Cowboys – Everything is bigger in Texas – their stadium, their ranches, their food, their hair, their egos and their football failures. When I think of the Cowboys I think of Tony Romo fumbling holds for the kicker or throwing an interception and when I think of their food I think of BIG STEAKS. I also think about the fact that the next season of Bravo’s TOP CHEF is going to take place in Texas so look out for an armadillo quickfire and a chili cookoff.
New York Giants – Yawn. Eli Manning is terrible. The tailgating at Giants Stadium is generic at best. The most memorable item I saw when walking through the parking lot last year at game was the drunk passed out under a car. Even the food inside the stadium left a lot to be desired. So when I think of the Giants, I think of a lukewarm overpriced hot dog that fans rave about but everyone else knows is nothing special.
Washington Redskins – They have a ridiculously rich owner that has no idea what he is doing. Like a wannabe gourmet chef, he keeps adding more & more ingredients in hopes that it will eventually be good but always winds up as a disappointing mess. Much like a lot of the restaurants I used to go to in the DC area. Everything is there and the plan sounds good but the execution is just WAY off.
Green Bay Packers – Last night the Packers looked like they hadn’t missed a beat from their Super Bowl triumph last February. The Cheeseheads were celebrating every Lambeau Leap with gusto. It put me in mind of a good rich Beer Cheese Soup. Keep this on a simmer on the backburner just like the Packers and they will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Detroit Lions – Over the past few years the Lions have been known mainly for their futility and rightfully so. This year however could be different. They have a young defense that is starting to get noticed and some real weapons on offense. But they are still the Lions and that won’t change. I tried to sit here and think of a food that reminded me of Detroit and all I could think of was Michigan Cherries, so I looked up the quintessential Detroit food and google told me is was Coney Dogs ? Really ? They had to borrow their most famous food from one of the outer boroughs of New York ?
Chicago Bears – You can bury the Bears chances this year at the bottom of a big gooey Deep Dish Pizza Pie. I’m not a fan of either one myself. I can’t stand their crybaby quarterback (he got sent packing in Denver) and I much prefer thin crust pizza. The Second City will be lucky to stay within sight of second place.
Minnesota Vikings – I’m not sold on Donovan McNabb staying healthy. I’m not sold on Adrian Peterson staying healthy. I’m not sold on Norwegian Lutefisk either. I know they love to deep fry just about anything & everything at the Minnesota State Fair but not even deep frying this season will be make the results palatable for Vikings fans.
New Orleans Saints – It looked like the Saints secondary had spent a little too much time munching on beignets during the lockout. They need the ladies taking orders at Mothers on Poydras to get them to step a little livelier. Despite that, the Saints still kept the game good & spicy up until the very last play. So when I think of the Saints, I like to think of my Alligator Chili or my Crawfish Pie.
Atlanta Falcons – When I think of the Falcons, I think of all that good barbecue and soul food I have had whenever I get down to Atlanta on business. The Falcons are looking just as good as that food this year. They may not win the division but they may win the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Much like their neighbors to the south, there isn’t a lot to get excited about if you are a Bucs fan this year. Third place is likely and second place is way out of reach. Kind of like a Grouper Sandwich, it’s good but it’s not going to win any prizes down at the County Fair.
Carolina Panthers – They got the first pick in the NFL Draft last year because they were the worst team in the league. They may get the first pick in the NFL Draft again this year. I don’t think you will get a lot of argument out of the fans in North Carolina about that but you will get them to argue about barbecue. Vinegar based or Tomato Based ? I guess it depends on which side of the state you live in.
St. Louis Rams – Somebody has to win this division as evidenced by the Seahawks claiming the division crown with their lousy record so why not the Rams this year ? They actually have a good young quarterback but not much else. As for food in St. Louis, they also lay claim to BBQ and the one story I will always remember is when my boss went to St. Louis and he asked his rental bus driver for the best BBQ in town and he sent him to a place where he HAD to get the Pig Snout. Suffice to say, my boss is a braver man than I.
Arizona Cardinals – This team should probably win the division but I just don’t see them holding it together. It’s hard to get a handle on how they will actually be with a new quarterback and a so-so running game. It’s kind of like figuring out a state or city food for Arizona. Most of the cuisine seems to be heavily Mexican influenced with some elements borrowed from both Texas & New Mexico. The only other foods I can think of from my drive through the state would be cactus & roadrunners. Nobody wants to eat cactus and even Wile E. Coyote can’t catch a roadrunner.
San Francisco 49ers – A city with culinary lineage like San Francisco deserves a football team like the ones they had during the Joe Montana era. Those teams were like fine Napa Valley Chardonnay. The team they have now is more like a bottle of ripple. My advice to Niners fans this year is keep the good stuff in the wine cellar – the ripple might actually help you watch the games.
Seattle Seahawks – When I think of the Seahawks, I think of Seachickens. When I think of Seachickens, I think of Chicken of Sea. When I think of Chicken of the Sea, I think of Tuna Fish. When I think of Tuna Fish, I don’t think of Seattle. When I think of good quarterbacks, I don’t think of Seattle. When I think of Seattle quarterbacks, I think of Tavaris Jackson and I feel real bad for Seachicken fans. That earthquake inducing touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch in the playoff victory over the Saints is going to seem like a long time ago in a few short weeks. My suggestion, get a Venti Latte, sit back and watch the Boise State games on Saturday instead if you can.
Jets over Houston
Baltimore over Pittsburgh
New Orleans over Detroit
Atlanta over St. Louis
New England over Jets
San Diego over Baltimore
Atlanta over Green Bay
New Orleans over Philadelphia
Conference Championship Round
San Diego over New England
Atlanta over New Orleans
Atlanta over San Diego
So that’s how I see it for this coming season in the National Foodball League. I am sure that any number of my 2 or 3 readers might see the football or the food results differently and I hope you will comment and let me know where I went wrong on both. I will be checking in from games & tailgates (college & pro) whenever and wherever I can during this Foodball season. I encourage all of you to do the same. Let’s see what you bring to the games.
Come back next time when we discuss how wrong I was and how I obviously have no taste.