The Jacksonville Jaguars erased a 27-0 deficit to win 31-30 over the Los Angeles Chargers during the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend on January 14. As the third-largest comeback in NFL playoff history was unfolding, NBC used Jacksonville band Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” as its bumper music to cut to commercial. Great moments aren’t great moments without the right soundtrack.
The Jags fell to the Kansas City Chiefs the following weekend, and the Chiefs are on to Super Bowl LVII — otherwise known as the Rihanna concert — to fight the Philadelphia Eagles for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, February 12. But remnants of the Jags’ Super Wild Card Weekend triumph have made it into the Super Bowl LVII discourse at Uproxx.
While most everybody is focusing on the football and breaking down the matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles, I’m busy imagining the perfect bumper song for each of the 32 NFL teams if any of them were playing in the big game. The deliberation process was simple. Identify one song that hits on each team’s definitive narrative from this season, with bonus points given if the artist is associated with the team’s region.
Jimmy Eat World — “The Middle”
After head coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired (and reportedly promptly bought a one-way ticket to Thailand), quarterback Kyler Murray tore his ACL, and future Hall Of Fame pass-rusher J.J. Watt retired, Cardinals fans are left praying that everything will somehow “be alright, alright” sooner than later.
JID featuring Johnta Austin — “Better Days”
It has been all downhill for the Falcons since infamously squandering their 28-3 lead and losing to the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The hope in Atlanta is that rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder can take a major leap and budding tight end Kyle Pitts can break through in 2023.
The Falcons are also slotted to select at No. 8 overall in April’s draft. The face of the franchise’s future has yet to be identified, but whoever it ends up being will be tasked with resurrecting the Falcons. Plus, it was only right to choose a JID track after the Rotimi “Rise Up” debacle started Atlanta’s season on a sour note.
Brent Faiyaz — “Price Of Fame”
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Ravens and star quarterback Lamar Jackson “could possibly be $100 million apart” in guaranteed money during contract negotiations this offseason. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Jackson declined the Ravens’ offer last offseason and played out the final year of his rookie deal.
The 2019 NFL MVP suffered a PCL injury in Week 13 and missed the remainder of Baltimore’s season, including a narrow loss to AFC North rival Cincinnati on Super Wild Card Weekend. The Ravens already knew Jackson’s price before this season began, but as it unfolded, they learned the cost of potentially losing him as their franchise quarterback. If Jackson is traded or walks, Baltimore’s window slams shut.
Elton John — “Rocket Man”
Bills centaur-like quarterback Josh Allen has a rocket arm, and his arm was Buffalo’s entire offensive identity in 2022 — for better or worse. The Bills’ inability to consistently sustain long drives and over-reliance on Allen’s eye-popping talent was ultimately their demise in the Divisional Round against Cincinnati, losing (in the snow, to be fair) 27-10.
J. Cole — “Love Yourz”
The Panthers had every excuse to pack it in when head coach Matt Rhule was fired in October after a 1-4 start. The Baker Mayfield experiment ended before it began, and franchise star Christian McCaffrey was shipped off to San Francisco. But they fought their butts off for Carolina, for each other and interim head coach Steve Wilks.
Juice WRLD — “Man Of The Year”
Stugotz of The Dan Le Batard Show contends that the Bears had the best losing season ever, and it’s a compelling argument. Second-year QB Justin Fields was the most dynamic athlete on the field most weeks — breaking several records and rushing for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns, including three 100-yard rushing games — but Chicago was still bad enough to go 3-14 and secure the No. 1 overall pick.
Justin Fields is the first QB in NFL history with
100 RUSH YDS
2 RUSH TD
2 PASS TD
in a regular season game. pic.twitter.com/z0mfvII75n
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 13, 2022
The Bears can feel confident that they’ve got their man in Fields and demand a king’s ransom from anyone interested in trading for the No. 1 overall pick, using that fortune to rebuild the rest of the roster.
Kid Cudi, Don Toliver, Steve Aoki and Dot Da Genius — “Burrow”
The song is literally named after Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who already owns a few franchise records after three seasons (and the first of which was cut short by a torn ACL). Burrow led Cincy to its first playoff win in 31 years en route to the Super Bowl last season and has solidified himself as the second coming of Joe Cool (or paving his own legend as Joe Brrr, Joe Shiesty, or Joey B).
Sure, it’s nice to have a three-headed receiving monster in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, but the Bengals’ heartbeat is unquestionably Burrow for the foreseeable future. The Ohio native quickly won over the heart of Kid Cudi, too, becoming friends with one of his childhood idols.
Kid Cudi texted Joe Burrow to let him know a song on his new album was named after him. Burrow smiled pretty big when telling us that.
— Marisa Contipelli (@BengalsMarisa) September 27, 2022
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) September 13, 2022
Ok. So after the Bengals win against the Chiefs, I hit Joe and congratulated him and asked if I could have his jersey. He said yes and sent it right away rockin this bitch to the game and then framing it. I am so geeked right now. #ohiolove @JoeyB @Bengals pic.twitter.com/mHWHfVRkR6
— The Chosen One (@KiDCuDi) February 4, 2022
Tracy Chapman — “Fast Car”
You have to give the Browns credit for constantly reinventing what it means to be a sad franchise. Tracy Chapman’s Grammy-winning track “Fast Car” is enduringly sad. Perfect match.
It seemed that maybe the Browns were turning a new page when their 2018 No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield led them to the playoffs in the 2020 season for the first time since the 2002 season. Cleveland decided to give a fully guaranteed $230 million contract (as reported by ESPN) to Deshaun Watson last March, and Mayfield was sent to Carolina in July. Oh, by the way, Watson was in the middle of facing at least 24 civil suits for sexual misconduct and received an 11-game suspension from the NFL. Cleveland’s reward for getting into the Deshaun Watson business was a forgettable 7-10 season.
Post Malone — “Wow.”
Set aside the fact that Post name-checks Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott — “Always goin’ for it, never punt fourth down / Last call, Hail Mary / Prescott touchdown,” which is ironic because head coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t exactly made his name on fourth-down decision-making. Unsatisfied Cowboys fans were left slack-jawed as yet another season ended with a memeable thud, and the only word left to say is, “Wow.”
The Fray — “Over My Head”
Anybody who watched any of Denver’s games this season should agree that first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who didn’t make it to the end of the year, and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, who cost the Broncos nearly a quarter of one billion dollars in the offseason, were in gravely over their heads.
It was an unmitigated disaster, and we should have known how it would end when Hackett opted for a 64-yard field goal in the opening loss to Seattle, Wilson’s former team. Newly hired head coach Sean Payton has his work cut out for him.
Eminem — “My Name Is”
Head coach Dan Campbell promised that the long-dejected Lions would “bite a kneecap off” when opponents dared knock them down during his introductory press conference in January 2021. Detroit went 3-13-1 last season, but the Lions introduced themselves into the national conversation this season. At 9-8, it was their first winning season since 2017.
Green Bay Packers
Bon Iver — “22 (Over Soon)”
We’re in for another installment of off-season drama around whether Aaron Rodgers will retire, return to the Packers, or leave the Packers. Last year’s saga ended with Rodgers signing a very lucrative extension with the Packers, but Rodgers’ retirement seems even more plausible now that Green Bay missed the playoffs at 8-9. (They sorely missed Davante Adams, and Rodgers suffered thumb and rib injuries.)
The Packers rattled off three-straight wins to go from 5-8 to 8-8 with a chance to clinch a postseason berth if they’d beaten Detroit in the regular-season finale, but the Lions won 20-16, and Rodgers looked completely dejected afterward.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 7, 2023
Beyoncé — “Break My Soul”
The Texans finished as the second-worst team in the NFL at 3-13-1. That came after posting dismal 4-13 and 4-12 records in 2021 and 2020, respectfully. But this season’s 3-13-1 record didn’t tell the whole story. The Texans had heart.
Houston gave the then-undefeated Eagles a scare in Week 9 and took the Chiefs to overtime in Week 15. The biggest indicator of their refusal to be totally broken came in their last game. The Texans would have locked up the No. 1 overall pick with a loss. They decided to fight to the end against Indianapolis, winning 32-31 on a 28-yard touchdown pass on 4th & 20 and a two-point conversion.
Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko — “Stay”
Rihanna is not from Indianapolis, or anywhere in the United States, but I granted myself one honorary Rihanna placement on this list because she is 1) Rihanna and 2) the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer.
The Colts are the lucky winners of Rihanna’s honorable mention because they were on the unlucky end of Andrew Luck’s abrupt 2019 retirement at just 29 years old. All of the sudden, Indy went from being on track as perennial contenders with a generational quarterback to becoming an ostensible retirement home for Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan. Oh, and firing Frank Reich midseason and replacing him with Jeff Saturday, who had approximately zero coaching experience. TLDR: The Colts desperately wish for a time machine to go back and somehow convince Luck to stay.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus — “Salvation”
The Jags went 1-15 and chose quarterback Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall in the 2021 draft. Jacksonville hired Urban Meyer as its head coach for the 2021 season, but his historically bad tenure only lasted until that December, and the team finished last season 3-14 — bad enough to own the No. 1 overall pick for the second-straight year.
And then they hired former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson last February. He gradually unlocked Lawrence’s potential and turned a 3-7 season into a 9-8 finish and an AFC South title. While the Jags were ousted by the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, all of Duval has to feel hopeful that Lawrence and Pederson are their saviors.
Kansas City Chiefs
Tech N9ne featuring Logic and Joyner Lucas — “Sriracha”
Tech N9ne is inextricably linked to the Kansas City Chiefs. I don’t make the rules, but as a Kansas Citian, I will abide by them. There was widespread suspicion that the Chiefs would lose their bite after trading all-time talent Tyreek Hill to Miami last March.
Well, Patrick Mahomes is the Chiefs’ sriracha. Travis Kelce was still Travis Kelce. Andy Reid was still Andy Reid. And what do you know? Defensive tackle Chris Jones had the season of his life, too. The Chiefs’ hot streak is still running red. Since Mahomes became the starting quarterback five years ago, Kansas City has hosted five-straight AFC Championship Games and are headed to a third Super Bowl in four years. Should the Chiefs top the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, people will start flirting with the D-word (“dynasty”).
Las Vegas Raiders
The Killers — “Rut”
The Raiders hoped a change of scenery would do the trick, moving from Oakland to Las Vegas ahead of the 2020 season. Last season, head coach Jon Gruden resigned mid-season after old homophobic, racist emails surfaced. Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was released following charges of DUI resulting in death (as reported by The New York Times at the time). Still, the Raiders made the playoffs, and many believed their 2021 momentum would carry over — especially after landing All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to pair with quarterback Derek Carr and running back Josh Jacobs.
Instead, the Raiders stumbled to 6-11 this year. They squandered a 17-point lead on three occasions. Carr was benched for the final two games and is expected to leave the team this offseason. If 2023 doesn’t bring their first playoff win since the 2002 AFC Championship Game (as noted by StatMuse), then head coach Josh McDaniels might not last either.
Los Angeles Chargers
Billie Eilish — “When The Party’s Over”
Every NFL season seems to end with the Chargers holding a deflated balloon. You’ve heard the term: “Chargering.” It’s its own verb for a reason. More than any other NFL franchise, the Chargers have historically uncovered new tortorous, previously inconceivable ways to lose. The apex was the aforementioned blown 27-0 lead in Jacksonville on Super Wild Card Weekend. Chargers fans are left with no choice but to lie to themselves that they like it like this. Justin Herbert deserves better.
Los Angeles Rams
Kendrick Lamar — “HUMBLE.”
No team in the NFL was humbled more this season than the Los Angeles Rams. LA won Super Bowl LVI in February to cap off the 2021 season, and the rest of 2022 was defined by injury and disappointment. The Rams’ 5-12 record is the worst Super Bowl defense in league history (as noted by ESPN Stats & Info).
Ariana Grande — “Get Well Soon”
Ariana Grande’s hometown Boca Raton, Florida obviously isn’t Miami, but Grande could have mailed a “Get Well Soon” card to Miami at any point throughout the Dolphins’ season, and it would have applied to somebody on the team. None more than quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered at least two concussions.
Lizzo — “Truth Hurts”
Lizzo claimed to have a “new man on the Minnesota Vikings” in this song, but that’s not why I chose it. The Vikings went 11-0 in one-possession games during the regular season (as noted by PFF), including the biggest comeback in NFL history and a thrilling 61-yard game-winning field goal on Christmas Eve.
And then 13-4 Minnesota lost 31-24 to the New York Giants on Super Wild Card Weekend, exposing fatal flaws they’d been able to camouflage all season. Justin Jefferson is the truth at wide receiver, but the Vikings have harder truths to contend with if they want to get over the hump.
New England Patriots
JoJo — “Leave (Get Out)”
The Patriots are still reeling from breaking up with Tom Brady in March 2020. Bill Belichick is still there, and so long as that’s the case, New England will always be in the conversation. But according to The Boston Herald, quarterback Mac Jones would love to tell Joe Judge to get out.
New Orleans Saints
Lil Wayne — “I Miss My Dawgs”
The Saints really miss the steadying presences of Drew Brees and Sean Payton. (And Michael Thomas, even though he’s still on the team, considering he missed all of last season and only played three games this season.) They still have great players, such as Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Cameron Jordan. But the team sputtered to a 7-10 record this season with a 35-year-old Andy Dalton under center for most of it after Jameis Winston fractured his back. Not exactly ideal.
New York Giants
Lady Gaga — “The Edge Of Glory”
The G-Men are vindicated in hiring Brian Daboll after his first season as the head coach. Daboll maximized quarterback Daniel Jones’ skill set and guided an injury-riddled team to their first postseason appearance since 2016.
The Giants beat Minnesota on Super Wild Card Weekend, claiming their first playoff win since New York’s 2011-12 Super Bowl run. And with Daboll at the helm, it feels like the Giants are closer to truly turning the page on the Eli Manning era and reintroducing the franchise to relevancy.
New York Jets
Mary J. Blige — “No More Drama”
If only! I traditionally have counted on the Jets to generate some messy drama, and they did not disappoint this season. Well, technically, they did disappoint: losing all of their last six games to go from 7-4 and in the playoff mix to prolong the NFL’s longest active playoff drought.
Lil Uzi Vert — “Just Wanna Rock”
Meek Mill was front and center during the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series run last fall, but the Eagles are all about Uzi. The Philly native led the Eagles onto the field for the NFC Championship Game, and then running back Miles Sanders (and center Jason Kelce) celebrated his touchdown run by hitting Uzi’s signature dance.
— New Heights (@newheightshow) February 2, 2023
Mac Miller — “Self Care”
All you need to know is that head coach Mike Tomlin has never finished a season with a losing record since taking over in Pittsburgh in 2007. Outsiders have been anticipating the dropoff, especially this season — the first after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement — but Tomlin always gets the best out of the Steelers. The late Mac Miller said it best, “Tell them they can take that bullsh*t elsewhere / Self care, I’m treatin’ me right, yeah / Hell yeah, we gonna be alright.”
San Francisco 49ers
Saweetie — “Fast (Motion)”
The Niners burned through four quarterbacks this season — Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy, and Josh Johnson — which was too much to overcome in a blowout 31-7 loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
But San Francisco was a juggernaut outside of the quarterback position, boasting the league’s best defense and A-list skill players on offense. Before their season ended in Philly, the 49ers had gone 12-1 (including 12-straight wins) since acquiring All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey in October. The Niners came at opponents fast, but the reality of quarterback uncertainty came at them faster.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — “Thrift Shop”
Disclaimer: This is not meant as an insult. Really, it’s the utmost compliment to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Nobody expected anything from Seattle’s season after trading Russell Wilson to Denver. As Geno Smith said, “They wrote me off. I ain’t write back, though.”
— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2022
Smith went from career backup quarterback for the New York Jets, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers, and Seahawks to starting all 17 games for Seattle and leading the league in completion percentage (69.8). Smith had 34 career touchdowns since 2013 entering this season and threw for 30 touchdowns and a career-best 4,282 yards this season alone — while taking Seattle to the playoffs. So, yeah, you could say the Seahawks got a bargain.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Beck — “Old Man”
This is sort of cheating, but it’s also plainly accurate. Beck’s cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man” was actually used by NBC to promote a Sunday Night Football matchup between Tampa Bay and Kansas City in September. As it were, this was the last season in 45-year-old Tom Brady’s G.O.A.T. career, as he announced his retirement (“for good“) last week.
Taylor Swift — “False God”
Titans fans must be starting to feel like they’re worshipping a false god after three-straight fruitless playoff trips from 2019-21 and barely missing the postseason this year.
Tennessee traded its No. 1 wide receiver AJ Brown around last year’s NFL draft, which was certainly a decision. Despite Derrick Henry clocking his fourth 1,000-yard rushing season, the Titans’ offense wasn’t scaring anyone without Brown.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending ankle injury, thrusting rookie Malik Willis into the fire before he was ready, which led to Joshua Dobbs starting Tennessee’s must-win regular-season finale against Jacksonville. (They lost.) But here’s the thing with the Titans: Head coach Mike Vrabel can make a believer out of anyone, even if he’s working with nothing.
Ari Lennox — “Blocking You”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.