1. Your home team. In my case, the 49ers. Which means I started assembling this list in Week 4.
2. A team you have a personal connection to. Does a high school classmate play quarterback for the New England Patriots? (In my case, yes) Is your step-cousin the long-snapper for the Bears? Is your aunt a massage therapist for the Jets? If so, make sure she puts you in her will, because that woman's about to be RICH!
3. The team your dad roots for (if different than #1). Despite spending his entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area, my dad is a huge Miami Dolphins fan. Why? He graduated high school in 1972; the Dolphins went undefeated in '72. You do the frontrunning-math. That said, if the Dolphins ever made the Super Bowl again (ha! sorry, Dad), I'd root for them.
4. The team with the most prominent alumni from your college. I went to USC. I like to see former Trojans do well in the NFL. Therefore, I must root for the Pittsburgh Steelers (Troy Polamalu) first and the Green Bay Packers (Clay Matthews) second. UNLESS one of the following qualifiers applies:
QUALIFIER #1: Don't root for a team that threatens YOUR team's legacy. Sorry, Pittsburgh (and my beloved Troy), but your "Stairway to Seven" season puts my 49ers in danger of falling TWO Super Bowl victories behind you guys for the all-time franchise lead. Plus, you have Ben Rothlisberger. No deal, Howie!
QUALIFIER #2: Jay Cutler is your quarterback. That guy sucks.
So, applying the above formula, I'll be rooting for the Green Bay Packers. Somebody break the news to Troy.
(I'm sure he's devastated).